Atlantic Cities
Postcard

Training the Next Generation of Bullfighters ... in France

Bullfighting has long stretched beyond the Spanish border into France, where multiple variations of the sport (as well as legal protections) exist. 

Despite previous efforts by French parliament to ban the controversial tradition, it is still not only a way of life but an aspiration for young people in cities like Nimes and surrounding towns. Nimes is also home to the French Tauromachy Center, where thousands of kids have attended and trained in hopes of one day becoming professional "toreadors."

Reuters photographer Jean-Paul Pelissier recently followed some of the academy's current students as they taunted fake bulls with "muletas." Still years from fighting real bulls in front of adoring fans, the students, for now, settle for beginning level battles against smaller, friendlier calves:

Nino, a ten-year-old toreador apprentice of the French Tauromachy Centre, nicknamed El Nino, touches a practice bull at the bullring of Garons, near Nimes, September 25, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier) 


Young toreador apprentices of the French Tauromachy Centre practice a muleta pass at the bullring of Garons, near Nimes, September 25, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier) 


Young toreador apprentices of the French Tauromachy Centre practice a muleta pass at the bullring of Garons, near Nimes, September 25, 2013. A muleta is a small cloth attached to a short tapered stick used by a matador. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier) 


Solal, a twelve-year-old toreador apprentice, practices a muleta pass with a shirt on the street as he leaves his home before a beginner's bullfight (becerrada) in Nimes, October 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)


Solal, a twelve-year-old toreador apprentice (L), looks at calves arriving at the bullring of Bouillargues, near Nimes, October 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier) 


Nino, a ten-year-old toreador apprentice of the Nimes bullfighting school, performs a muleta pass during a beginner's bullfight at the bullring of Bouillargues, near Nimes, October 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)  


Solal (R), a twelve-year-old toreador apprentice of the Nimes bullfighting school, nicknamed Solalito, looks at young toreadors before a beginner's bullfight at the bullring of Rodilhan, near Nimes, October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier) 

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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