Aproz - Combat des Reines (Cow fights) by Mark Sukhija

The judges observing the ring with the cows fightingsToday we headed down to Aproz in Canton Valais to see the Cow Fights which take place here every year. The Combats des Reines, as they are known locally, aren't the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona or the fine art forms of the Spanish Matador. This is Switzerland where things are much more sedate. Each Reine (or Queen) will fight another Reine for dominance of her herd. Weighed in, each cow is allocated a to a weight category much like a boxer is. In the ring, the cows graze the ground and kicks up the dirt. An opponent approaches. And does likewise. Each eyeing the other up suddenly they lock horns. Locked in fierce combat. The rapidity of engagement contrasts with the slowness of the eye-ing up. The determination of the combatants for supremacy is clear in the length of the bouts.

The Hérens breed of cow is unusually aggressive and earnest in its quest to form a social hierachy. The Hérens breed, with their sturdy horns and frankly awesome build, are an unsurprising breed as fighters. Their sheer enornmity and breadth of shoulders is comparable to the size of bulls in other breeds.

The hilltop church above a square in Sion, Canton Valais After the fights, we decided to take advantage of the excellent weather and walk back to Sion. The walk from Aproz took us around about an hour and, rather than follow the cycle path, we used the church and castle in Sion as guide back to town. Both the Church and Castle are high above the city of Sion and are visible from many miles away in good weather - which makes them excellent beacons for navigating your way back to town.

About the Cow Fights

The Hérens breed of Cow are naturally aggressive and fighting to establish a social hierachy is a natural act. The leaders from this contest, and from contests in other communes/Gemeinde, will go forward to the Cantonale Finals to be held on the 11th of May 2008 in Aproz. Contests are usually held on Sunday - one a week for several weeks before the final itself. The contests start at around 9 in the morning and finish around 5ish. Each bout lasts around 40 minutes but this very much depends on how long the cows spend locking horns.

Logistical notes for this trip

We left this morning (Sunday) on the 9 am train from Zürich. At Visp (Viege) we change trains to Sion. From right outside Sion train station we took the bus to Aproz. We headed back to Sion, we discovered that (on Sundays) there are only three buses a day back to Sion. Which really means you need to have a car or time your departure to coincide with a bus depature. The SBB have full timetable details.

Related Posts

Switzerland - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau seen from Bergrestaurant Harder Kulm
Switzerland - view from Restaurant Eigergletscher View from the Restaurant Eigergletscher overlooking the Eiger North Face and Bernese Alps
Grindelwald - face sculpture at the International Snow Festival Sculpture of a face and hat at the Grindelwald International Snow Festival
Grindelwald - snow Buddha at the International Snow Festival Buddha carved from snow at the International Snow Festival in Grindelwald, Switzerland
Grindelwald - snow sculptures at the International Snow Festival Snow sculptures at the International Snow Festival in Grindelwald, Switzerland
Berne Münster (Cathedral) - a brief history A brief history of the Cathedral in the UNESCO-protected old town of Berne
Berne - what not to miss What not to miss in the Swiss capital city of Berne
Berne - costumed Fasnachtler Costumed Fasnachtler in the Bernese old town


Further reading

Martigny - Amphitheatres and Erotic Rodin - Travelogue from a trip to Martigny in Canton Valais for the Erotic Rodin Exhibition

Saint Maurice - an afternoon the oldest abbey north of the Alps - A travelogue from an afternoon spent in Saint Maurice, home to the oldest Abbey north of the Alps, in Canton Valais, Switzerland

Switzerland - festivals not to miss - Fantastic Swiss festivals to visit through the year

Ballenberg Open Air Museum - a day trip - Travelogue from a day trip to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum near Brienz in Canton Berne, Switzerland

Berne - recommended restaurants - Recommended places to eat and drink in the Swiss capital city Berne

Switzerland - sacred destinations - Nine of the finest churchs, cathedrals and monastries in Switzerland

Switzerland - places not to miss - Sixteen places not to miss around Switzerland

Neuchâtel - where to stay - Personal recommendations on where to stay in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Switzerland - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau - The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau seen from Bergrestaurant Harder Kulm

Our last day in Lugano - Last day in Lugano - a trip up the Monte Bre funicular

Canton Valais - Official website of Canton Valais

About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook