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Surfing, rugby, landaise race... these traditions that stand the test of time

The Landes department is a territory rich in traditions, which reflects the history, the customs and the soul of the Gascon culture. These traditions are anchored in the daily life of the Landais and are an integral part of their cultural identity. Here are four of them, among the most emblematic of the Landes.

Rugby, a sporting tradition rooted in the Landes

A symbol of fraternity and vitality, rugby is a very popular sport in the Landes department, and in the South West in general. The oval ball made its appearance in France in the early 1870s, thanks to the British. Rugby became the king sport in the Landes. Numerous teams have participated in national and international competitions, with a rich record of success. In particular, the Stade Montois Rugby of Mont-de-Marsan and the Union Sportive Dax Rugby Landes created in 1904. Each match of the "coqs landais" is followed by thousands of passionate supporters.

The Silver Coast, cradle of surfing in Europe

Surfing appeared in France in the 1950s, when American surfers came to the Biarritz area on vacation. Surfing quickly gained popularity in the Landes and the Basque Country, and was later widely adopted by many young people in the South West. Many French professional surfers started on the beaches of the Landes. The Côte d'Argent regularly hosts international surfing competitions, such as the Quiksilver Pro France and the Roxy Pro France. Among the most famous spots in the Landes, we think of Hossegor, Seignosse and Capbreton. Numerous surf schools offer courses for beginners and advanced courses for those who wish to improve their techniques on the Landes waves.

The Landes cow races, an ancestral custom

In the Landes, the Landes cow race is an ancestral tradition, which is mentioned in a document from the 13th century. Today, it is the event not to be missed during the village festivals. Nearly 400 Landes races take place during the summer in the arenas of Dax, Mont-de-Marsan, Hagetmau, Mimizan, Vieux-Boucau, Soustons, Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse or Capbreton.

Unlike bullfighting, during which a bullfighter confronts a bull in an arena before putting it to death, the Landes race does not involve fighting or violence towards animals. Rather, it is a sport of tradition and physical challenge that is practiced in a spirit of fair play and respect for the rules. The music of the bandas, harmonies and brass bands are also part of the show.

The gemmage, once upon a time, the resin harvest in the Landes forest

The Landes forest is the largest artificial forest in Europe. It covers most of the department and occupies 2/3 of the Landes coast. Remarkable landscape, the Landes de Gascogne forest has a strong cultural and patrimonial heritage, such as gemmage, the harvesting of pine resin, used in particular for the manufacture of turpentine.

This traditional Landes activity dates back to Gallo-Roman times and consists of making a small incision in the trunk of the pine tree so that it secretes resin. The gemmage is generally performed on 30 years old trees, when their growth slows down and their wood starts to become dense. Gemmage contributed to the prosperity of the territory from the middle of the 18th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The trade of gemmeur, or resin harvester, the one who collects the resin, has not totally disappeared. Today, a handful of die-hards keep the local tradition alive with demonstrations of traditional gemmage in different villages of the Landes.

mercredi 11/01/2023 - 11:01:00
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