Thursday, May 24, 2012

Transhumance: Sheepish in St. Remy

Monday May 28th is the annual Fête de la Transhumance in St. Remy, where local shepherds herd their flocks (roughly 3500 sheep and goats) three times around the village's circular "main drag" before taking them up to graze the green pastures of the Alpilles for the summer months. Transhumance is considered one of the 100 Prettiest Festivals in France and if you haven't seen it, it's great good fun. (My friend Philippe calls it ''sheep cooking in the streets.'') It starts officially around 10:30 am but arrive earlier to find parking because the streets are closed off. There's also an all-day flea market on the Place Republique, starting at 9 am. Up at the Plateau de la Crau at noon, there will be sheep-herding demonstrations and food served.  For more info about the Transhumance in St. Remy, call 04 90 92 05 22 or click here. As part of the Transhumance festival, the Cine Palace in St. Remy will be screening the documentary Sweetgrass, which you can read all about here. The film is in its original English-language version, with French subtitles. On Sunday May 27, the showtime is 8:45 pm,  with an art exhibit beforehand and a discussion on Provencal history and traditions afterwards. Admission is free but you must reserve by calling 04 90 47 99 54. On Monday May 28, the film will be shown at 6:30 pm and normal ticket prices apply. 

Thanks once again to Guy Butters for the great Transhumance photos. You can visit Guy's website here and see more of his wonderful photography here and here. You can also follow him on Twitter.


  1. I loved seeing your pictures. Life is still very rural down here which I love. I saw an old boy walking back into a village, in his blue overalls, wheeling a wooden wheelbarrow full of grasses. Presumably for his animals. The site could have been 200 years ago. Hope all is well with you, Celia

  2. We knew we would miss Transhumance by a couple of weeks when we were in St. Remy, so we sought out the festival several weeks early in the near-by village of Senas. Of course it wasn't nearly as big or as many sheep, but it was well worth the drive and an event we will never forget. It was hard to believe, but one farmer and one dog controlled the entire flock of sheep in Senas.

    Now that I see how crowded the streets were in St. Remy, maybe we were better off going to the smaller festival. Thanks so much for sharing Julie.

  3. Julie,

    Thanks for writing about this event. It's so unusual. Looks a little bit like a stage set and the two men in the bottom photo look like actors.

    It's definitely not a bah-ah-ah-ring weekend in Provence! ;)


  4. I have been to St. Remy many times but have never seen this beautiful event. I did get to see the running of the bulls in Sept. though!

  5. Bonjour,
    J'ai déjà vu la transhumance à St Rémy , et je trouve que c'est un moment magique.
    Bonne fin d'après midi;

  6. Every post you write gives me Provence lust all over again. A Festival of Sheep sounds so charming...maybe next year will bring us back in the Spring!

  7. Julie
    I love st Remy. Seeing yet another festival brings back great memories. How is Phillips? Give him a hug for us and you too.
    Alison in Chicago where it is90 in the shAde on may 24th!

  8. I don't think they are really happy to have these numbers on their back...

  9. What an incredible event, and to have missed by mere days in St. Remy!

    The very best part about St. Remy, of course, is that YOU live there! I loved meeting you Julie and felt like we were old friends from the first sip of our morning cafe!

    Enjoy this Monday and stay clear for a little while afterwards :)

    xo bis


  10. PS Julie what is the derivation/meaning of the word "transhumance"? xo K

  11. Hi Kit
    The term derives from the Latin trans 'across' and humus 'ground.'
    You can read all you need to know (and more!) here:
    Thanks for askin'!



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