So Many Cultural Events, So Little Time

Natalie Rice
July 9, 2018
Cocarde d'Or

Never in a million years did I think there would be so much to do in a small town in the South of France. I’ve been (very happily) busy every single minute since I got here. Between my classes (History of Art and History of Photography), all the cultural events in Arles, IES Abroad Excursions, and the AMAZING meals my host parents have been cooking, I have so little time to myself and I am so, so happily enjoying life here.

Last weekend was the Fete du Costumes. There were so many people who paraded around town wearing cultural clothing from the area. It was amazing to see how much these people still appreciate and celebrate their culture and history. It’s great to see how dedicated they are to letting their children and tourists see the way generations before them used to dress (big dresses and lots of layers in 85-95 degree heat takes a LOT of dedication).

Last week on Monday, July 2nd, I went to the 86th annual Cocarde d’Or in Arles at the Arenes d’Arles. First, women and men from the Fete du Costumes came out and performed a dance for around 20 minutes that told the history of the area. Then was the actual bull fighting. Which is kind of a misleading name since bull fighting - despite still being legal in some parts of France and Spain due to its cultural and historical significance - was not what happened that night. It was around 35 men put in the center of the ring and they had to try to touch the head of the bull as many times as possible. There were 6 bulls, put in there one at a time, and each one grew increasingly bigger. Every time one of the men touched the head of the bull, they earned some money from their sponsors. I believe they said one man had earned over a million Euros! Wild!! But it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see - in an arena that’s almost 2000 years old!!

The rest of last week was my favorite thing: The opening week of Les Rencontres de la Photographie! This is the biggest photographic celebration in the WORLD! The whole town was swamped with dozens of famous photographers (including my Photography professor here! Who was featured at the festival for winning an Award for her exhibit - “Intimate Revolutions”). All over there was the most amazing exhibits showing things from adorable dogs dressed as humans (William Wegman’s “Etre Humain”) to exhibits featuring only Chinese Photographers (“Une Attention Particuliere” and “Nuit Blanche”) to an exhibit documenting RFK’s last train ride (“The Train, Le Dernier Voyage de Robert F. Kennedy” by Fusco, Terpstra, and Parreno). The celebration lasts till late August or September, but the opening week had special events and book signings and so much energy and excitement! I was able to view 11 exhibits in the first week. I'm hoping to be able to see the last 25 before I leave!

I will continue to stay busy and content, I am sure. My French is improving every day and I am learning so much culturally, historically, and otherwise. I am SO not ready to go back home yet (good thing I have about 20 days left!).

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Natalie Rice

<p>In 7th grade, I memorized the name of every single nation of the world and in my life, I travel to as many of them as possible. I like to read, write, run, and play French horn in my free time.</p>

2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
Home University:
Catholic University of America
Lakeview, PA
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