Nîmes’ great passion is bullfighting, and its ferias are attended by both aficionados and fighters at the highest level. The wildest and most famous is the Feria de Pentecôte, which lasts five days over the Whitsun weekend. A couple of million people crowd into the town (hotel rooms need to be booked a year in advance), and seemingly every city native opens a bodega at the bottom of the garden for dispensing booze. There are corridas, which end with the killing of the bull, courses where cocards are snatched from the bull’s head, and semi-amateur courses libres when a small posse of bulls is run through the streets. Two other ferias take place: one at carnival time in February; the other, the Feria des Vendanges, in the third week of September at grape-harvest time. Recently, events have been marked by small but vocal protests and in 2006 several organizers of the local tauromachie world were injured by letter bombs. The tourist office can supply full details and advise about accommodation if you want to visit at feria time.

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