Seyne-les-Alpes, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, perpetuates an ancestral French tradition, the breeding of mules.
A strong and robust animal, resulting from a cross between a mare and a donkey, its breeding, very specific to the valley, has strongly influenced the local economy throughout the twentieth century, especially between the two wars when no less than 800 mules were born each year.
Mule breeding has adapted with the modernization of agriculture, finding outlets in particular in the export market and people come from all over Europe to buy mules from Seyne-les-Alpes!
A century-old competition...
The mulassier competition is an essential part of life in Seyne and local tourism! At the time, the competition was an opportunity for breeders to show the quality of their breeding. Today it remains the meeting place where breeders can show and compare their animals, talk about their job and their passion.
It has been held for 100 years at the Maison du Mulet, in the hamlet of Haut-Chardavon, on the second Saturday of August. The animals are judged according to the selection criteria of the breed. But above all, they can be seen at work: skidding, market gardening, ploughing, harnessing, carriage rides...
Originally instituted by the departmental services of agriculture and the national stud farms, the mulassier competition, an event in the life of Seyn, was at the time an opportunity for breeders to show the quality of their breeding and gave rise to sales and the distribution of bonuses from the state. It was then part of this great movement of agricultural modernization intended to strengthen the agricultural power of France and its rural areas.
Today, this meeting has a new dimension which is that of safeguarding an original historical heritage for the Seyne region. It is proof that this activity continues to be part of local life, even if it is no longer the driving force of the economy.
A centennial well celebrated ...
This year, it will take place on Saturday, August 13 from 9 am, on the site of the House of the Mule.
During the morning, the local breeders will present their mares and especially the products of the year, mules and foals in front of the jury. Animations around the care of the equines complete the program: discover the jobs of farrier, equine dentist or osteopath. The competition is a festive moment for the inhabitants as for the visitors. It is a show in itself, an opportunity to see the animals which in summer are in the mountain pastures and in winter in the stables. This event is the pretext for a great celebration in the village, with a parade of floats, a ball, fireworks, a funfair... And other festivities.
The House of the Mule
A former 19th century farmhouse houses the Maison du Mulet in the hamlet of Haut-Chardavon in Seyne-les-Alpes. A permanent exhibition shows the importance of this breeding, its trade and its contribution to the prosperity of the Pays de Seyne until the middle of the 20th century.
The rural heritage built by the House of the Mule is typical of a traditional mountain farm important in those years. It presents, among other things, on the ground floor of the old house, a bread oven and its paved workroom, grain stores and vaulted cellars.
The bread oven allows animations and tastings: cooking of bread or potatoes harvested in the vegetable garden of the farm, with the help of mules.
The threshold of this house, surmounted by a beehive, opens onto a courtyard entirely paved with a colorful calade.
In summer, the animals of the mule family (donkeys and mares) graze in the parks. During presentations at work, mules use various agricultural, forestry or transport equipment and recall the agro-pastoral life of the past. They also demonstrate how these remarkable animals are still used today for carriage rides, skidding, market gardening or as porters on hikes, among other things.
Tis'Ânes proposes you circuits studied at your walking pace, to combine the pleasures of discovering magnificent landscapes on foot and the company of an educated donkey which will carry your luggage while motivating your children to walk.
It is possible to camp in a bivouac or at the farm, to stop over in a gite or in a guest house. Tours of one to several days will allow you to discover this magnificent region, made up of mountains, valleys and ancestral drailles. This will allow you to discover a landscape with a thousand facets and to meet people who will tell you about their lives and the history of their mountains.
The access to the mulassier contest is free, as well as the visit of the exhibitions of the Maison du Mulet.
The House of the Mule,
Tél. : 04 92 37 29 43
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