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August: the summer is in full swing and in the south of France it's the season for the ferias. Influenced by their Spanish neighbours, the citizens of towns such as Beziers, Bayonne and Dax take to the streets awash with colour for spectacular bullfighting festivals. In all three locations, thrilled aficianados descend upon the sun-splashed roads in their hundreds to cheer on the accomplished bullfighters demonstrating their art. This summer Britons travelling to France need not hop across the border to experience this fiery Spanish sport; in fact since April 22 2011 bull games and fights have been considered a veritable element of French culture, being registered on the French list of non-material institutions.
Bayonne bullfights are held from 3-5 August 2012 as part of the area's general feria celebrations, which are some of the largest festivals in France. Locals and travellers to the area can marvel at some of the world's most skilled bulldodgers waving their red flag to taunt the beasts. The festival, themed around the reds and whites of Pamplona (or blue and white for some purists loyal to Bayonne's town colours), sets the air alive with the aura of Mediterranean and Hispanic partying.
The feria in Dax, a commune in Aquitaine not far from Bayonne, takes place from 10-15 August 2012. Celebrated for being family-friendly, British families holidaying in the area can enjoy this festival's overwhelming sense of friendliness and togetherness. Thanks to the festival's scale, the French flock from across the nation and more than 800,000 participants parade the streets dressed in bullfighter's red and white. It is a site for any visitor; put together by volunteers working all year round to adorn the area with elaborate posters and decorations, the market town is transformed into a bullring where corridas, or bullfights, and other competitions offer entertainment for all ages. La pièce de résistance is the closing ceremony, whereby breath-taking fireworks are launched from the banks of the river Ardour.
Béziers' feria runs from 11-15 August 2012, hosting various attractions at 11:00 each morning and corridas from 18:00 every evening. The shows promise to astound fans and leave crowds agasp as Béziers has the oldest and grandest bullfighting arena in south-western France. Visitors cannot help but be sucked in by the electric atmosphere. The skies are speckled with glitzy fireworks and roads sing out with the sounds of street entertainment. Incidentally Béziers, the wine capital of the French south, hosts a wine festival during the same period so holiday-goers' glasses need never be empty. It is worth remembering that you can only attend the evening corridas upon purchase of a ticket, which can be reserved through the Arènes de Béziers website.Aquitaine
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