The arenas and the Landes race

Dax
The arenas and the La ...


The Landes race is one of the emblematic games of the Landes, a tradition that has lasted since the Middle Ages. Combining sport and passion, each year it brings together thousands of spectators who come to applaud the ganaderias and cuadrillas who compete in an arena. No killing with the Landes race, simply races between men and cows in the form of a spectacle. The Landes races follow a particular calendar called temporada, which begins in May and ends in October. Enter an arena to applaud a Landes race.

Opening photo: The arenas of Dax / sasha64f Adobestock

The Landes race, an official sport in the south of France

It is currently an official sport recognized by the Ministry of Health and Sports, managed by the Fédération Française de la Course Landaise. Listed as an intangible cultural heritage since 2020, the Landes race is a tradition often at the heart of village festivals, accompanied by the famous Cazérien, the anthem of the Landes race. Organization requires 3 elements:


  • An arena,
  • A ganaderia (herd of Spanish cows),
  • A cuadrilla (team of 5 men).

The principle is simple. The person called a spacer provokes the animal to dodge when it begins to charge. The confrontation takes place from the front to allow the athlete to perform jumps and sometimes acrobatic figures to avoid the annoyed cow.

Landes race Photo: AdobeStock_matts06-

The Landes race, a tradition dating from the Middle Ages

Originally, this race was far from being supervised since it was a game between young people, who took pleasure in chasing cows destined for the slaughterhouse. To avoid having spoiled meat, it was customary to make the herd run from the meadow, a custom quickly adopted by the men of the village who loved running with the cows. Gradually, the custom became a tradition, and the racing streets an arena . Today we are a long way from the butcher races of the time with an official sport governed by rules which comes in different forms:

  • Formal team or individual races,
  • The Landes competitions, the queen of arenas where professionals compete against each other,
  • Mixed races, simpler and open to amateurs,
  • Intercows and toroball, less dangerous games for a first contact with the cow.

The Landes race does not end with the killing of the animal and only involves females, it is therefore to be differentiated from bullfighting.


In the Landes throughout the summer, find the Top à la Vachette, a cow show around a swimming pool, fun intercity events to watch and participate in! You too can enjoy the superb show by Landes Emotions.

Landes race Photo: AdobeStock_-vigorin

The arenas, the place to watch the Landes races

The Landes race is a tradition which takes place every year in the Landes, but also in half of the Gers, and in some regions such as the Pyrenees or Gironde which have arenas. This sand quarry surrounded by boxes and stands is one of the main parts for organizing the Landes race. In France, there are 175 of them, scattered throughout the villages, each with its own particularity. 40 to 45 meters long and 30 to 35 meters wide, the track welcomes the spreader and the cow who compete face to face. There are many things to observe during the race between the colors of each cuadrilla and the magnificent outfits of the athletes, the different breeds of cow called “runners” or the incredible dodging figures between man and animal. The spreader is considered a high-level athlete who demonstrates courage, but also experience. If you pass through the Landes, take the opportunity to visit an arena, a Landes race may be launched.

The Landes race can be seen in different ways, but in the eyes of the Ministry of Health and Sport, it is an official sport practiced by trained athletes. The show is incredible as the movements of the spreader and the cow resemble a dance. If you don't want to go, we hope to have informed you about this popular tradition that the Landes race represents.

Did you like our article? Find others on our Blog . Follow us on the Guide des Landes Facebook page and on Instagram @guidedeslandes .

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