Bullfighting exists in some parts of southern France as well as Spain. Bayonne is the oldest bullfighting town in France and is proud of this tradition that includes the world’s oldest written reference to Running of the Bulls dating from 1289  – part of law concerning the driving of animals through the streets to the slaughter house.

The first Spanish-style bull run dates back to 1701 and took place in an arena on the Place de la Liberté in honour of King Philippe V of Spain. The modern day version of the bullfight which so fascinated Hemingway emerged in France, again in Bayonne in the St Esprit area. The neo moorish style arena was inaugurated in 1893 and, with a capacity of 10,400, is the largest in South West France. Every season the world’s top matadors fight prize bulls on the sandy floor of this legendary arena.

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