The elegant Provence town of St-Remy-de-Provence will be transformed on 16th May by a tidal wave of sheep (not forgetting goats and donkeys) sweeping through the streets accompanied by their shepherds, sheepdogs and a cacophony of bells! For this is the Fete de la Transhumance – an enduring tradition marking the day that the sheep leave the drying lowlands and head for pastures new in the high Alps.
During winter in Provence, flocks of sheep and goat are moved around the fertile lowlands – often keeping the grass at bay in vineyards and orchards, but as the ground begins to dry they are moved back up to the mountains. The journey used to take 10 days on foot, but is more likely to be done by truck today.
To join in you’ll need to park outside of the old town of St-Remy-de-Provence by about 10am and find your spot along the side of the road. Festivities carry on for the whole day with sheepdog trials, cheese market and bric-a-brac stalls. To really feel part of the action, join the lunch held on the Plateau de la Crau – buy tickets in advance from the Mairie (Town Hall).
Timings for Fete de la Transhumance, St-Remy-de-Provence
9am to 7pm: bric-a-brac fair, cheese fair, painting competition on the theme of the Transhumance
11am: the passage of the sheep
12pm: lunch on plateau de la Crau, sheepdog demonstration