In Sète, the jousts were born with the port on July 29th 1666. An old maritime tradition, therefore, a living culture itself, which has its own codes, its own vocabulary, its rituals, its music.
Perched on the tintaine at the top of the boats, equipped with a spear and a bulwark, the players all aspire to win the Saint-Louis, the most prestigious of tournaments. An extremely spectacular sport where family transmission is the order of the day. Seven societies and a school of jousting help to keep this tradition firmly rooted.
From mid-June to early September, beyond folklore and tradition, the jousting reflects the soul of the Sète people.
The tournaments are preceded by a parade of players, all dressed in white and wearing canoes, accompanied by traditional music, where the oboe and drum take centre stage.
A first pass of honour opens the tournament. Players present their spears and shake hands as the boats pass each other. Then the two men, perched on the tinnitus of the boats, their chests protected by the bulwark, try to fall into the water when the boats pass each other, with a wooden spear with a sharp-pointed end.
Fanfares based in the stands "warm up" the atmosphere and greet the victorious players and spectacular passes with brass instruments and bass drums!
From the bleachers installed during St. Louis Day along the docks of the Canal Royal, one can witness spectacular fighting.
The St. Louis Monday jousting tournament
Every year in August, for one week, the Feast of Saint Louis (the patron saint of Sète), offers spectacular jousting tournaments!
It is the long-awaited meeting of the players for their final tournament of the year, a true world championship in each category, including the "heavyweight" category, which takes place on Saint Louis Monday.
For the winner of the great Saint Louis tournament, immortality is guaranteed: his name is engraved for posterity on a bulwark, exhibited in the Salle des Joutes of the Paul Valéry Museum.
The kids are getting into it, too.
From an early age, the little Sète children dream of becoming great players...
The aim of the Ecole de joutes de la Marine is to introduce children from 3 to 17 years old to the Languedoc jousts by making them acquire the technique of this sport in the greatest respect of traditions.