Are you planning a holiday with your family in St. Tropez or will you be passing through this charming city quite soon? If you are in Saint Tropez from the 16th to the 18th of May 2012 to be exact, then you will get the chance to see the Saint Tropez Bravade celebrations (Bravade meaning bravery). It comprises a deep-rooted Provençal tradition that takes place over 3 days on an annual basis. The Bravades in Saint Tropez have been celebrated since the 18th century, however they have existed since mid-May 1558. These fascinating celebrations are ideal if you are visiting Saint Tropez with children as they will take them on a journey back through time thanks to the exciting combination of parades, drums and gun fires with muskets!
Saint Tropez Bravades History
The Bravade celebrations in Saint Tropez have a double military and religious origin. Initially it was a feast day celebrating the arrival of the body of Saint Tropes aboard a ship in 68 AD. Tropes was the high steward of Roman Emperor Nero who had him beheaded in Pisa because he refused to renounce his Christian faith. His body was thrown onto a boat, along with a rooster and a dog, which drifted out to sea and onto the Provencal coast where it was found by Christians, who adopted him as their Patron Saint.
The celebrations also commemorate the appointment of a Captain to the city in the late 16th century, who taught them how to use weapons to protect themselves against the Saracens. Thus, during the Bravade celebrations, you will get a live history lesson. The captain and his military staff, including guardians of the Saint Tropez statue, sailors, musketeer, Pisan cross bearers and bravades will parade right in front of your astonished children’s eyes! This Great Army consisted of people from all social groups in the village. They all had a common faith and desire to defend their country’s identity and their freedom. You will see gun fires with “muskets”, a typical weapon of the time, whilst the other participants continue to parade through the city in period costumes. In addition, store and house windows will be coloured red and white in honour of the special occasion.
Bravade Celebration Highlights
Day 1: Petite Bravade Procession
Following a two-hour ceremony at the City Hall square, the bravadeurs make their way through the city led by four Pisan cross bearers. The city is decorated in red and white corresponding with the colours of the privateers. Over the three days of the event, people celebrate their identity and remember the battles of St Tropez that took place to fend off attackers from the sea in the days when Saint Tropez was a privileged and independent city.
Day 2: Grande Bravade Procession
Grande Bravade at the City Hall: It’s time to picnic and don the pike and flag led by the Captain. The Mayor hands over a pike and flag (symbol of authority) to the Captain. This is an impressive ritual with music and choreography. The musical score, played for the Bravades today, is the same as that played back then. Then follows a long procession with various stops, as well as and gun fires with muskets and rifles in tribute, until dusk. The celebrations culminate in a large public dance for all to enjoy.
Day 3: Final Day
In the morning, there is a meeting amongst the Bravades followed by a Thanksgiving Mass in the Chapel of St Anne. Then a celebratory glass of wine is offered by the honorary Captain to the city officials, local authorities and bravadeurs.
If you would like to be taken on a journey back through time and share some historic moments with your family, then rent an apartment in Saint Tropez with Localnomad-Saint Tropez allowing you to relive this fascinating city`s past.