Jules is off and running in Spain along side of the bulls in what will be the most exciting run of his life and a very close call!
Pamplona is the capital of the fiercely independent Navarre province of northern Spain, which shares a border of 130km with France. A strong Basque tradition is an important link between Iberia and the rest of the continent.
The area has had its share of conflict and the remains of castles and fortified walled towns bear witness to that. But the ancient kingdom has somehow been able to preserve its own government and identity.
Romans, Christians, Muslins and Jews have all left their mark on Navarre its rich architecture, landscape and folklore are wonderfully diverse.
Ernest Hemingway's descriptions of the running of the bulls in his 1927 novel The Sun Also Rises made Pamplona's Fiesta de San Fermín internationally known. The festival occurs each year from midday on July 6 to midnight on July 14 and is a time of non-stop partying and flowing wine. Attempts to outlaw the bull running part of the fiesta have failed and it remains an attraction.
The tradition is said to have arisen from practicality when, in 1591, residents needed to herd bulls to the fighting arena. At first drovers were used, but others joined the throng to chase them and it continued to grow. The route from Santo Domingo Street, through Plaza Consistorial, Estafeta Street, via the dangerous and twisting Mercaderes Street, has remained unchanged.
When Pamplona was just another city belonging to the Roman empire, Fermin was the son of an important resident. He was influenced by San Saturnino, a visiting French bishop, who was spreading the good word to local heathens. Fermin was convinced to go to Toulouse to study and became a bishop. He returned home to continue San Saturnino's work, but on revisiting France ran into conflict with local powers. They tortured and beheaded him and his body remains in the local cathedral.
While not the patron saint of the city (that honour belongs to San Saturnino) or the region (that belongs to St Francis Xavier), the annual fiesta celebrates San Fermin.
Northern Spain, a one-hour flight from Madrid
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