A Provençal Tradition
The Transhumance is simply the migrating of livestock led by a shepherd to either the green mountains in the summer or the plains in the winter. Sheep, goats, and donkeys are the main beasts that are herded from one pasture to another and often in great numbers. If you are unaware of a Transhumance passing through your town- you’ll be in for quite the surprise! (and traffic jam)
This migration is celebrated in many Provencal towns. It’s a nod to the traditions of the bergers (shepherds) whom still follow this lifestyle. One cannot help but smile at the counter-intuitive sight of the livestock (mostly sheep) hurrying along city streets.
The Transhumance, as with many events in France, is also celebrated through wine and gastronomy. The migration is often held on the same day as gastronomic markets including local producers as well as producers that come especially from all regions of France. You’ll often witness traditional dances and costumes. Because the shepherds are proud of their ‘métier’ or profession, in some towns, they demonstrate the skills of their sheepdogs.
It’s a great day for people (and animal!) watching in any town that happens to be situated in the middle of a transhumance route.
The next Transhumance in Sénas is April 30, 2017.
See also St Remy’s Transhumance; more focus on antiques.