Madame Laugier in front of her farm in Fayence (Var) in 1990, feeding her hens.

Madame Laugier in front of her farm (1991)

Provence is home to donkeys, mules and horses... but also oxen. Discover the essential role of the ox in Var's rural way of life. From the authenticity of field work to the celebration of 'tripettes' in honor of Saint Marcel, André Abbe plunges us into a world rich in stories and emotions, where the past is always present. Direction Fayence, where the Laugier couple opened the doors of their farm to us in 1991.

We Varois don't have the "fe di biou" (the faith of bulls, which in French doesn't mean much)... and yet oxen have played a major role in the life of our rural world. The ox was a draught animal in the same way as the horse and the mule. The center of ox breeding was the village of Cuebris (Alpes Maritimes) near Roquestéron. In humid areas, horses became dusty (lung disease) and oxen were called in, as in Cogolin, near Saint-Tropez ... by the time Brigitte Bardot arrived, the last oxen were ploughing the vineyards of Cogolin. I was lucky enough to film the last day's work of Provence's last pair of plough oxen, at Monsieur Laugier's in Fayence, for the TV program "Vaqui". An emotional moment. The herdsman owned three oxen, the left-handed, the right-handed and the substitute. The left-handed could not work on the right and vice versa. The substitute was bred to work on both sides.

A comparison can be made with the front rows in rugby. Left-backs can rarely play on the right... Rugby fans should not be offended by this comparison. Mind you, I'm not saying there are no more pairs of oxen in Provence. We bring them out for the holidays. I saw one at the Petit Saint Jean parade in Valréas (Vaucluse). But don't count on them to plough your vines. I'm in favor of their existence. They enable younger generations to learn more about our past...

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