The village of Allauch, located on the outskirts of Marseille which was made famous by Marcel Pagnol in his novels turned movies « Manon des Sources » and «Jean de Florette», is hosting their tradition La Journée de l’Ane. Roughly translated it’s Donkey Day - a day when the villagers pay tribute to the animal that the ancestors most relied upon to haul water, merchandise and building supplies up the rocky slopes of the surrounding hills.
Known for their endurance and strength the donkey, or as the French refer to them as le bourriquet, was the most reliable means of transport. It is still fairly common for people to own donkeys today but they are kept more as pets than as working animals.
Several stables throughout the region rent donkeys for people who rather not carry their own wares when hiking through the stony foothills. And although you may not be walking several hundred miles as did Robert Lewis Stevenson who later wrote “Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes”, donkey walks are making a come-back.
Each month La Maison Ste. Victoire organizes a group hike accompanied by donkeys. Registration is mandatory by calling 04 42 66 84 40 or for more info visit the French language website at http://www.cg13.fr/cadre-de-vie/environnement/decouverte-des-parcs-departementaux.html
At 11 am on December 5th a procession of donkeys will walk through the village of Allauch saddled up with traditional saddles, baskets and pottery.