Thursday, May 2, 2013

Details at La Fete des Gardians



How I am entranced by the swish of silk and shine of satins at the Fête des Gardians, held each year on the First of May in Arles. The women sway like tender reeds under the weight of their finery while the men clench their jaws as they guide their horses through the maddening crowds. We all gather and pull to catch glimpses of a past and present mingling, sighing wishes just for a little bit of better, a mist of more mystery. Our everyday garb says much of the times we are in--of uncertainty, of fatigue. So how wonderful to get lost in this particular dream. 

While in years past (here and here), I have been swept up by the spectacle, I shifted focus, letting myself indulge happily in the beauty of the details, both masculine and feminine. 

Can you hear the rustle and the horses neigh?

The drums beat out a Provençal tune of old.


Curious as to the what and the why's?

From my first post on this splendid fête:

"While throughout France it is often when labourers hold protest marches to demand better conditions, here in Arles it is the Fête des Gardians. Extending south of town down to the sea, the Camargue is a large marsh land where bulls and horses roam free. They are watched over and cared for by les gardians, our answer to cowboys. Or actually, maybe the cowboys copied their French counter parts, for their Confrérie or Brotherhood, was formed in 1512 (and is the oldest of its kind) and has gathered every May Day for nearly the past five hundred years. A mass is held in the Major Church just behind the Roman Arena, at the end of which horses and riders are blessed in the name of St. George, their patron saint. For the occasion, everyone is decked out in their finest traditional Provençal costume, which was strictly codified by the Marquis de Baroncelli in 1817 and has been proudly adhered to ever since. Everything has its place--the way a woman's hair is rolled, the pinned folds of the scarf on her shoulders, the placement of her jewellery, her shoes."

























44 comments:

Maywyn Studio said...

Thank you for posting your beautiful photographs.
They bring the brain to a good thought place. I hope one day you and yours dress in costume.

Gina said...

The fabrices, the laces, the leather, the smallest details, all so beautifully photographed. What a treat! Thank you. ox, Gina

Suze said...

I don't think I've ever actually seen electric blue until this moment. That first blue dress will be burned on my brain for the rest of the day. Heather, you have an extraordinary gift for transmitting energy through images. Singular, friend.

Michel said...

It is going to take us a long time I fear to be able to be in Provence at least once when each of the different festivals take place like the Fête des Gardians in Arles and the upcoming Transhumance in St. Remy and on and on. We return at the end of the month and we will be looking for festivals to attend. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures.

Romy said...

How utterly luminescent & tactile....how did you resist touching the folds if those glorious dresses? We have been five days in Uzes and are being slowly seduced by your part of the world....hopefully we can get a handle on what's on & where so we can smother ourselves in the history & culture & day to day life in another southern place! Rx

Laoch of Chicago said...

Good post: it's nice sometimes to delve deeply in the details, to get lost in the trees and stop looking for the forest.

Marsha Splenderosa said...

I love the detail shots, and can almost feel the fabrics. Seeing the ladies ride side-saddle must have been splendid. Close-up and personal, this is way one should experience these things. Beautiful beautiful post, Heather. See you in Camelot.

Aussie in France said...

What an interesting post and I love all the details. I'd like to quote a paragraph in my Wednesday's blogger round-up if I may.

Loree said...

What exquisite details. It makes me feel like I was there. I tagged you in the Liebster award. Participation is, of course, optional.

Gina Liuzza said...

Mille mercis for this beautiful post! Oh to be an Arlesienne on the 1st of May!

Glamour Drops said...

It's so charming that this custom has been continued...and with such passion and attention to detail too...but riding in side saddle is SO hard....they have my utter respect.

La Contessa said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE where the camera focused!Was that a chain of sorts to hold the long dress up?!FABULOUS!

teamgloria said...

SWOONING over the taffeta!

(particularly that frambroise)

divine post.

felt like we were there - listening to the drums - rustling in taffeta au frambroise.

*sighs*

and not in economy au Delta Airlines.

_tg xx

Naperville Now said...

stunning shots -- yes, the swish of silk, most definitely.

Jayne Ryan said...

Gorgeous Post - am really enjoying your blog - very personal, very touching!

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

what a tactile post - I love all the different textures. even though I am not at all handy I did learn how to tat. And so i can appreciate just how difficult some of that tatting was on some of the outfits. Polyester just doesn't evoke the same emotions does it...

Judith Ross said...

Wow, just wow. These weren't easy to catch and you had to point that camera at people, which isn't exactly easy either. And you caught so much movement!

Right back at you with a "thank you for taking us along for the ride..."

Judith Ross said...

Did you change your sign-in options for the comments?

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

You did such a fabulous job on these photos!!! Love them all. Hugs, Jackie xoxo

Wyn Vogel said...

Such wonderful photography to share with us!! Cheers!!

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you, Suze. And the blue really was electric--can you imagine wearing such colors? I can't!!

Lost in Provence said...

Oh my, we would not be allowed as we are not from Arles, I believe. There are many, many strict rules linked with all of this...

Lost in Provence said...

There was so much that I wasn't quick enough to capture, Gina. It really is a treat.

Lost in Provence said...

Michel, I have to say that I am not a fan of the Transhumance--those sheep are smelly! But it would be lovely if you manage to get here earlier one year.

Lost in Provence said...

How I love Uzes, Romy!!! It is the calmer side of Provence. SO elegant...enjoy!

Lost in Provence said...

So perfectly put, as always! That brought a massive smile to my face.

Lost in Provence said...

I knew you of all people would have appreciated this one, Marsha!

Lost in Provence said...

Oh, of course--if you would be so kind as to give a link back I would be most grateful. :)

Lost in Provence said...

You did?! Loree, thank you. I will pop over later today...

Lost in Provence said...

Aren't they all so beautiful, Gina? I love it!

Lost in Provence said...

Virginia, that is NOTHING! In the afternoon, the Gardians and the ladies put on a show in the Arena and you should SEE the women--they are truly impressive...

Lost in Provence said...

Isn't it?!? And it had rained all morning so those ladies were the only ones without big water stains on their silks...

Lost in Provence said...

Heehee. Happy to have whisked you away for a moment or two. Oh how economy is brutal after the gift of business...

Lost in Provence said...

Merci, NN.

Lost in Provence said...

Am so glad that you are appreciating it Jane--what a lovely thing to say. :)

Lost in Provence said...

Isn't it true? And you get a kudos from me that you can tat!!

Lost in Provence said...

I did. No more Anonymous comments and it has changed my life. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. The spam was out of control!!

And thank you--yes, there were so many people, moving so fast and moving in and out of shadows into bright sun!! Arrrggh. I missed a lot but luckily was shooting like mad to get what I did!

Lost in Provence said...

Thanks so much for your support as always Jackie. Are you home yet???

Ann Mah said...

Oh, these photos are DREAMY... I can practically hear the skirts swish. I've always dreamed of living 100 years ago and dressing like this (aside from the subjugated role of women, of course :)

Lost in Provence said...

No surprise you like the palette here, Wyn. :)

Lost in Provence said...

Oops. Yep, that part kinda changes the dreaminess of it all, doesn't it?

Aussie in France said...

Thank you. Most definitely. I'll send it as soon as it'z published.

Aussie in France said...

Here is the link and thank you again http://www.aussieinfrance.com/2013/05/top-5-beautiful-parks-in-paris-details-at-the-fete-des-gardians-an-archipelago-of-floating-gardens-on-the-banks-of-the-seine/

Virginian on the go said...

We were at this festival in 2009, and it is one of my favorite days spent in France. Your photos are amazing, and I especially love the shot of the men and boys playing both the drum and the pipe at the same time.

It's wonderful that the people around Arles work to preserve their heritage.