Bullfighting in the south of France
Allow me to share an experience with you. I live in a city called Nîmes, my home in the south of France. After a few weeks here soaking up the sights and sounds of the city, I was very excited to hear that there would be a series of bullfights. I had always thought of bullfighting as an activity performed by the Spanish, a sport of matadors, traditional band music and flashy costumes. However, in celebration of its Feria des Vendanges festival, the city would display seven corridas, or bullfights, in its very own Roman amphitheatre Les Arènes (Above). This was something I had to see!
When I arrived, I took my seat right at the very top of the amphitheatre. The seats became cheaper the further away from the action you were. A front-row seat to just one bullfight would cost you 105€ whereas a seat right at the top costs only 15€! Let me tell you that, at the front of the amphitheatre, you miss half of the action. From the back, I was able to take in not only the gruesome bullfights (seven bulls were killed in total) but also the enormous capacity crowd of 25,000 people, the panoramic views and the approaching thunderstorm (Left). All of these elements together combined to make an unforgettable experience: a mix of intense drama from man’s dance with death in the bullfight with the foreboding backdrop of flashes of lightning.
I am aware that, for many, bullfighting is a cruel, torturous sport, making fun of a dying animal. You must also understand that the sport itself is dying. More and more people are taking a stand against this antiquated, barbaric form of entertainment. But that’s exactly what it is. Bullfighting is a window into the world of our ancestors. Having the opportunity to be in a packed amphitheatre, watching the same spectacles as our Roman predecessors (albeit with the addition of jeans and t-shirts), is an invaluable cultural experience. It is an art form, playing out man’s battle with, and ultimately conquering of, death before our eyes. Whatever your opinion, a bullfight is an unforgettable experience and, if you haven’t seen one, I would highly recommend that you do before man’s dance with death takes its final bow.