How to get there : The closest railway station is Avignon (20 kilometers). From there you can get a taxi, or bus 57 from Avignon bus station (30 minutes).
When: end of May (arount the 20th)
Saint-Rémy is a quiet touristic town of Provence. Like in all Provence’s towns, you can find cute fountains, narrow streets and arched passageways, ochre walls and blue shutters…
However, once a year Saint-Rémy the quiet city turns into a vibrant place because of the “Transhumance”
The transhumance is an important part of French cultural heritage. It’s the fact to move livestock from lower attitudes in winter (plains) to mountain pastures in summer.
This seasonal migration occurs in southern France, mostly in Alps and Pyrenees. The purpose is to avoid the summer heat in the plains and to benefit from the freshly sprouted mountain grass.
The starting day of Transhumance has become a tourist attraction, and his often celebrated by a feast. Saint-Rémy’s transhumance is one of the most famous in France: it brings all together the shepherds of the region and their flocks.
Thousands of sheep, lambs and goats are crossing the streets of the town at the same time. The shepherds all wear traditional costumes of Provence.
The sheep all belong to different owners. In order to be distinguished, the sheep are all marked with different painted symbols: each symbol is specific to one owner. There are used mostly for wool, making cheese or meat.
Nowadays most of the transhumance is made through trucks. But there are still some shepherds that go all way long to Alps by walking. It takes them approximately a week.
In autumn, before the first snowfall, the flocks return to lowland pastures where rains have renewed the pastures. The migrations keep going on for centuries, and we hope that they will never stop!
Author, photos: Vincent Sacau