Every autumn, thousands of sheep leave behind the upland pastures where they spent a peaceful summer to find shelter in the low-lands.
And every year, this procession gives rise to the traditional Fête de la Transhumance in the village of Roubion, a perched village located on the descent from the Col de la Couillole.
Last Sunday, just a few hours after torrential rains transformed most of the French Riviera into a terrifying flood zone, the sun was back and people turned out in large number to cheer on the farmers, their dogs and their adorable woolly quadrupeds as they passed through the 12th century old village on their way to the Var.
The festivities started at 8:30 am with the baking of bread, some traditional dancing and a craft market. Then it was time for everybody to gather on the main square to welcome the colourful and noisy procession (the sheep wore tags and the few goats that accompanied them tinkling collars) in a friendly atmosphere.
A bit behind schedule, the animals finally arrived around 11:45 am to the applause of the waiting crowd. If today most flocks are moved by large double-decker trucks, this annual celebration offers a unique opportunity to witness the sheep being herded down the small roads and to walk with them from the village to the station of Roubion Les Buisses, just a couple of kilometers away, to the sound of traditional Provençal music.
The hike is easy and takes about half an hour but for those who cannot walk, free shuttles are also available.
Once in the station, the sheep continued grazing on the lush green pasture but the festivities did not end for the bipeds. Many stalls offered delicious food (cheese, sausages, ham, socca…), home-made jams and local wines, while a small farm provided for some great entertainment.
Roubion has been hosting this annual transhumance fête since 2003 and this year’s celebration once again offered a breath of fresh air – a nice parenthesis in a somewhat difficult weekend on the Côte d’Azur.
All photos © Florence Dubosc