Batailles de reines – Cows battles

Bataile des reines
Bataile des reines – Photo © www.amisdesreines.it

Literally: battle of the queens. It is against bloodless between beef – which have a natural instinct to territoriality and dominance hierarchy – the outcome of which determines the hierarchy within each herd. Today, this practice is regulated (the cows must be pregnant and are divided by weight) and is organized a real tournament, with twenty rounds and a regional final held in autumn in Aosta in a special arena. After the Fair of S. Bear, is an event that attracts the largest number of viewers in the region. La bataille most traditional is probably the one that takes place in the valley of Vertosan, upstream of Saint-Nicolas (but of Avise). A traditional “battle” between the queens of the pastures of Vertosan has been immortalized in a famous poem in the patois of the poet Jean-Baptiste Cerlogne.

Bataile des reines - Photo ©  www.amisdesreines.it
Bataile des reines – Photo © www.amisdesreines.it

We report on the subject reinesvalleedaoste blog, dedicated to rural Valle d’Aosta. It ‘a blog full of pictures of fighting but also of animals and herds grazing in beautiful alpine environments.

On the website of the Association des Amis de Reines you will find the Batailles Regulation and the detailed timetable of meetings with all the relevant charts.

These battles have ancient origins. The rules and a regional organization were established in the ’50s. Therefore there are preliminary heats, based on weight (eight in spring, six in summer and five in autumn) which take place on the mountain pastures during the summer, and are attended by herd owners, residents and lots of tourists, who can enjoy a day in the open and an unusual show all at the same time.

Bataile des reines - Photo ©  www.amisdesreines.it
Bataile des reines – Photo © www.amisdesreines.it

A famous “reines” battle takes place on the “Piccolo San Bernardo” pass, once a meeting place for shepherds from the Valle d’Aosta and from Savoy.

The winners from the preliminary rounds meet on the third Sunday of October for the final match, in the Aosta arena, called “the Croix Noire”, intentionally built for this show.

This event is quite important in the Valley’s agricultural world and is an event that curious tourists cannot miss.

Bataile des reines
Bataile des reines – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

The example of cattle breeders has been followed by goat breeders (“tchevre” in patois dialect), who, since 1981, have organized their own celebration day with non-violent battles among their animals. Goats are also divided into categories, according to weight, and the match is similar to the “reine” one. Winners are awarded with “tchambis”, hand carved collars made out of maple and walnut wood, and provided with the characteristic bell.

reines
reines – Photo © www.amisdesreines.it

Two other kinds of initiatives are related to cattle breeding: “alpages ouvertes” (visits of pastures all over the Valley area and tasting of food products), and the “desarpa” , in Aosta, to celebrate the ritual return from high mountain pastures.
Courtesy in part of the Regione Valle d’Aosta andin part  © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley – Translation Enrico Massetti