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Last weekend in June
One of the town’s oldest festivals was founded 6 centuries ago. These festivals, which were then known as Jeux et Courses de la Tarasque, began in the 15th century and were established by King René in 1474.
During the last weekend in June, the tamed Tarasque leaves its den with its knights and makes its legendary presence felt. The people of Tarascon remember Saint Martha delivering them from the sly beast by giving visitors 4 days of celebration.
It was King René who, in April 1474, made the old ritual of the Fêtes de la Tarasque fashionable again and founded the Ordre des Tarascaires so that these celebrations “were fittingly continued and carried out.”
The Jeux were meant to take place at least 7 times a century and people were to “have a massive party, celebrate weddings, dance the Farandole and gorge at feasts” for fifty days and “give people from outside town the warmest welcome and keep them well fed throughout the games”.
Unlike today, the games were carried out by professional bodies such as carters, farmers, gardeners etc, for an audience always expecting to endure the worst practical jokes.