Throughout the year, many Camargue races bring together thousands of people. La Cocarde d'Or, the most prestigious one, is the queen event that all raseteurs dream of winning.
From the beginning of April to the end of October, the races take place in the arenas of Arles and small villages around the city.
Every year, on the first Monday in July, the Cocarde d'Or ("Golden Roundel") takes place in the amphitheater of Arles.
This is the «flagship» race of the bull season and it brings together the elite of the Camargue race on the track !
Meanwhile, the final of the Trophée des As is organized in early October, one year in the arena of Arles, the other one in Nîmes.
A little history of the race :
The race was originally a «bullfighting game»: animals of all kinds and farm valets mingle to fight and play with the bull. The oldest testimony on the origin of the Camargue race dates back to 1402 in Arles: a race was given in honour of Louis II, count of Provence. A little later, towards the end of the 19th century, we move to a less cruel bullfighting game where the man alone plays with the bull: we fix the attributes on the horns of the bull (flowers, scarves, tricolor cocks in the colors of the manade) that have to be withdrawn by young amateurs.
In the 1890s, bull ranchers became aware of the importance of the «Camargue» bull as a breed. Its morphology and its combativeness makes him more efficient for race than farm work or meat production.
Thus, since the beginning of the century, bulls of high quality compete with men who champions of "raset". We call them "raseteurs". At that time, new rules appears : we fix a roundel on the bull's horns and each time a raseteur removes one, he gets money. We call it "a free race". After that, regulation concerning cocks and hooks is passed. Only real raseteurs dressed in white are now accepted in the arena. Races and rules are nowadays managed by the Fédération Française de la Course Camarguaise.
Passion, intelligence and speed are the qualities of the Camargue bull...
... qualities that he expresses in the Camargue or free race. The free race is an integral part of Camargue traditions, it raises passions and moves the crowds.
Indeed contrary to the bullfight it is the bull that is put in the spotlight and not the man, even if among the raseteurs there are some very famous. These bulls are real heroes, who sometimes make real careers.
Each one has a name and it is this name that is inscribed on the posters of Camargue races, unlike bullfights, where only the names of the matadors are inscribed. Some even have their statue erected in villages like Goya, others like Rami, have their tomb in the farmhouse where they lived all their lives.
Approximately 18,000 to 20,000 bulls are reared in more than 150 manades, of which at least half are over 100. The production of Camargue breed ("raço di biou") is primarily intended for bullfighting shows (Camargue race, abrivado, bandido).