By Brandon Hill, International Travel Consultant and Concierge
I grew up on the ranch in northeast Oklahoma where western heritage and the cowboy culture still thrive. We regularly attended local rodeos and thought of bullfights as something that happened well south of us, in Mexico.
Fast forward to this past January. While busy planning our culinary and cultural tour of Gascony, I’m envisioning gorgeous farms and vineyards, fine wines and dining in a pastoral setting like those captured on canvas in the Louvre. Imagine my surprise to suddenly discover that bullfighting is prevalent in southern France! Seriously?
In La Course Landaise, the bull “fighting” is ritualized combat, in the form of teasing, leaping and dodging of the bulls by young sportsmen, known as toreros or écarteurs. The only weaponry used is the écarteur’s athletic ability to either dodge or jump over the charging animals. Agile, daring and dangerous, some of their artistically acrobatic moves would rival those of Cirque du Soleil's most gifted performers.
While well-respected, the écarteurs don’t make enough money to make a living at it, so the sport remains an enduring amateur sport that is the center of yearly village celebrations throughout the region. Teams of young men and a few women, often dressed in elaborately embroidered costumes, venture into the ring to compete for the crowd’s favor.
The Hill Guys®: Matt and Brandon Hill