Yes, there are French cowboys
The French have their own version of bullfighting, course camarguaise. They don’t kill the bulls, but rather chase them around the ring trying to take ribbons from their horns. The only blood spilled is from the young raseteurs running and jumping to get the prize without getting gored–the French bulls are bred with their horns turned up, not down like the bulls in a Spanish bullfight.
We bused out to a ranch in the Camrgue, a region situated between two branches of the Rhône adjoining the Mediterranean. The ranch we visited raises cattle solely for the fighting ring, not for meat. They also raise horses with which to tend and herd the cattle.
This is the season for foaling, and they have a number of babies on the ranch and two more expected in the coming week.
These horses are for work, not play. They are never stabled, living outdoors all year. They aren’t shod, as the ground is relatively soft. And they receive no vaccinations, which seems odd to me but they didn’t ask my opinion.
The cattle likewise are unvaccinated. I guess it works for them.
This showing off for tourists is a big business in itself. The ranch has a building which seats over 100, with a commercial kitchen. They need it to feed the gringos who arrive by bus, down a long single lane dirt road. The food was excellent–we started with a buffet of appetizers/salads:
The main course was essentially pot roast in red wine sauce and red rice grown on the ranch. The rice is common in this area because the ground is very salty from historical incursions of the Mediterranean, only 10 km to the south.
The dining hall was decorated with a fascinating collection of saddles, from all over the world. Saddles from America, Europe, Somalia, Ethiopia, Latin America, and Asia.
Music accompanied our meal, more Spanish than French–but this area isn’t really all that far from Spain, and the influence is strong.
We saw the cattle and horses from trailers towed behind a tractor, while the cowboys followed on their horses and herded the livestock towards us for a better view. There are only a few full time ranch hands, including the owner and his mother and father, all of whom were riding along to make the show great. This is a working ranch, but they are in show business, too.