Bear festival,

a purely Catalonian tradition

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In the Pyrenean valley of Haut Vallespir, each year in February, a very ancient carnival is celebrated in three Catalonian villages... Come and discover this tradition so deeply rooted in the life of the people of Pyrénées-Orientales!

The fête de l’Ours, an ancestral legend

The festivities originate in a legend about a ferocious bear who, in search of a mate, snatched a young girl from the area.

It is said that the villagers organised a massive bear hunt to save the teenager, eventually caught the bear and chained it up at the village square.

They punished him by shaving him with an axe and the bear turned into a human being...

The Fête de l’Ours is a unique opportunity to observe, in the heart of French Catalonia, a festive, transgressive event that celebrates a victory of man over beast.

Fête de l'Ours, Arles sur Tech
Fête de l'Ours, St Laurent de Cerdans
Fête de l'Ours, Prats de Mollo

Three villages, three Fêtes de l’Ours

In the month of February, the Fête de l’Ours takes place in three villages of Catalonia, which enjoy a carnival and a village fête combined.  

Arles-sur-Tech, Prats-de-Mollo-La-Preste and Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans, three villages, three festivals and three different atmospheres that are not to be missed.

Fête de l'Ours, Prats de Mollo

La fête de l’Ours, an everlasting tradition

The Fête de l’Ours really is a concentration of Pyrenean traditions and a chance to discover or rediscover the customs of the region, such as the sardanas, a traditional music and dance assortment.

To experience this happy atmosphere, immerse yourself in the supercharged ambience that reins during the Fête de l’Ours and enjoy the warmth and togetherness of this great annual gathering.

A good opportunity to get together for a pleasant experience in Pyrénées-Orientales!

 

Fête de l'Ours, Arles sur Tech

Arles-sur-Tech

Discover the traditions of Arles-sur-Tech where the day begins with a hearty meal at the village square, before the hunters go off in search of the bear to keep the pretty young girl out of danger.

The various characters parade from square to square to perform sketches while the public enthusiastically put the bear’s agility to the test and give it a hard time!

Finally, the bear ends up at the main square where he is shaven and becomes human again.    

Fête de l'Ours, Prats de Mollo

Prats-de-Mollo-La-Preste

In the village of Prats-de-Mollo-La-Preste, the emphasis is on the rite of passage from wild man to civilised man.

Three young people dress up in animal skins and cover themselves with oil and soot before chasing the villagers with their claws out!

Beware if you’re in their path as they’ll try to smear you with soot!

Fête de l'Ours, St Laurent de Cerdans

Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans

At Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans, the Fête de l’Ours combines a rite of passage and a carnival!

Let the delirious crowd engulf you in a crazy chase through the little village streets!

Once captured and shaved, the bear returned to human form is granted the privilege of choosing a young girl from the crowd.