A Charrette de fête is a farm wagon decorated with various greenery and pulled through a village by a long string of draft horses, often at a gallop, and often with kids chasing behind. The tradition, called Carreto-Ramado has been practiced since the 17th century, in the large farming area of the confluence of the Rhône and Durance rivers, north of Arles and south of Avignon, and area called the "zone de charrettees".
The idea of Carreto-Ramado is an agricultural festival to celebrate the people who work the land: the farmers and farm hands, the market-farm workers, horse handlers all who help bring the farm products to market.
The festivals are organized by different Carreto-Ramado associations and take place in different villages of the area during the Summer and early Autumn. The festivals are often, but not always, religious, and many are related to the Fête de Saint Eloi in June or July.
A village fete with the Charrette de Fête will will have a procession through the village, with people in period costumes, men and women riding the white horses of the Camargue, local marching bands and folkloric dancing. The actual Carreto-Ramado, though, is the long string of heavy draft horses, attached in a long line is what is called a Saracen harness, pulling wagon (charrette), sometimes at a trot but most often, and most excitingly, at a gallop.
The charrette can be pulled by a string of 20 or more horses; the annual Charrette de Saint Rémy festival in St Remy-de-Provence is pulled by a string of over 50 farm horses.
The charrette is heavily decorated with greenery, according to the local tradition. The decorations can be branches of trees and bushes, or wild fruits and vegetables.
Charrette Festival Villages
Barbentane celebrates the Fête de la Saint Jean every year in June with the traditional Charrettes de Fête.
Châteaurenard has the Charrettes de Fête for its Saint Eloi festival every July.
Eyragues has typically had the Charrettes de Fête for the Carreto-Ramado festival every March and the the Fête Saint Eloi every June.
Maussane-les-Alpilles has its Fête Saint Eloi every June with the traditional Charrettes de Fête.
Rognonas has three festivals every year with the Charrettes de Fête:
- July, Fete Saint Eloi
- August, Fete Saint Roch
- Sept, Fete des charretiers
St Remy-de-Provence has its well-known event, La Charrette de Saint Rémy, celebrating Saint Eloi every April.
Other Charrette Villages
Other villages in the region have had festivals in the past with Charrettes de Fete, but apparently nothing recently. The status of future festivals for these places is uncertain.
Aureille, located southeast of St Rémyo-de-Provence and west of Eyguières, might be joining the Charrettes de Fete association before 2016.
Paluds-de-Noves, a hamlet of Noves, southeast of Avignon and just east of Châteaurenard, had traditional processions of Charrettes de fete in the past, the latest in September 2014. We've not found any mention of a 2015 event or anything for the future.