Occitan Medieval Festival of the Flying Ox
Les Fêtes Médiévales Occitanes Les Fêtes du Volo Biòu
Saint-Ambroix (Languedoc-Roussillon region)
the whole village is dressed in medieval costumes, tables are set up, where the wine of the country flows, while troubadours, jugglers and acrobats perform their art, and a joyful crafts market shows all the magic of its colors and flavors, and at the end of the feast, an ox leaves in procession through the city until it flies…
Geographical, cultural and historical context
Saint-Ambroix is a medieval village with a quite attractive and strategic position on the Cèze river between sea and mountains in the heart of a region of contrasting landscapes in the Gard department of Languedoc-Roussillon region. Saint-Ambroix is a historic city, the Celts and Romans left traces of their passage, as witnessed by several archaeological finds. The village, fortified during the Middle Ages, developed commercially and industrially with the silk industry flourishing in the 19th century. The local heritage includes many sites of historical interest in and around the village, such as the a well preserved medieval center with its narrow streets, ancient doorways and windows, the curious “plateau du Dugas”, a rocky area overlooking the town centre with the Chapel of Dugas on top, the troglodyte houses, the altar of human sacrifice from the Celtic Age, and the 18th century Guisquet tower, and finally also several interesting castles in and around the village, with the most impressive being the 11th-12th century Chateau de Montalet and the 13th century Chateau d'Aujac.
Event description and programme
Every year around the middle of July the Medieval Festival of Saint-Ambroix relives the days of the great fairs of the 14th century granted by King of France John the Good, and the time when an ancient local legend was born. The visitors, together with the citizens and the costumed partecipants and reenactors take on a great journey into the heart of the medieval Occitania, while celebrating an Occitan totemic animal and emblem of the small village of Saint-Ambroix itself: the “Volo Biòu” (the flying ox). On this occasion, the medieval streets of the village find themselves immersed in the Middle Ages, magically transformed and lit with life and colours, hosting numerous leisure and educational activities, market stalls and workshops.
According to the legend, one year, after a very abundant vintage, the St. Ambrosians did not know what to do with their excess of wine which was beginning to rot. To get quickly rid of it, the consul (the mayor of the time) of St Ambroix had an idea inspired by mythology: he promised the inhabitants to make an ox from Saint-Ambroix fly as a trick to attract crowds, and so he organized a big celebration. Crowds of curious people flocked by the thousands into the village where the St Ambrosians turned themselves into innkeepers: quickly the guests finished all the wine, even if a little moldly already. At the end of the day, and old ox was taken to a hilltop and hurled over the edge, apparently flying over the roofs of the houses. The fall was brutal affirms the legend written by Albert Arnavielle, and its remains scattered over the surrounding countryside, but the excess of wine on which depended the economic health of the community were mopped!
Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.
Info & Contact
Association La Légende du Volo Biòu
Tourist Office of Saint-Ambroix / L'Office de Tourisme de Saint-Ambroix
Address: Place de l'Ancien Temple, 30500 Saint-Ambroix, Gard, France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 66243336
Saint-Ambroix Town Council / Ville de Saint-Ambroix
Address: Hotel de Ville, 1 boulevard du Portalet BP 66, 30500 Saint-Ambroix, Gard, France
Tel.:+33 (0)4 66240002 | Fax:+33 (0) 4 66243415
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Cèze-Cévennes Tourist Office / L’Office de Tourisme Cèze-Cévennes
Text sources: Association La Légende du Volo Biòu, Tourist Office of Saint-Ambroix, Wikipedia, Saint-Ambroix Town Council, France this Way portal, France Voyage portal
Saint-Ambroix on Google Maps:
Promos and video reportages of the event: