In 1786 the French emperor Louis XVI asked the Spanish crown the permission to import a flock of the famous Merino breed,

at that time only available in Spain and for centuries forbidden by death sentence to export.

12th October 1786 the first animals arrived at the National Bergerie in Ramboulliet and lay the founding of the famous

French Merino breed. The success encouraged the founding of further regional breeding centres and 1806 the

“Imperial and Royal Bergerie d’Arles” was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte.

In Arles the Spanish Merino was crossed with a local sheep breed, the “mouton camarguaise”.

The result was the Merinos d’Arles, a small, though animal, sturdy to cope with the hard living conditions

in the plain as well as in the mountains, with finest wool for its time, ideal and well adapted for the dry and hot climate

of the vast plains of the ancient delta of Rhone and Durance River.

Population has risen quickly to 300.000 heads, bred for its fine wool and also for the tender meat.

It brought a lot of wealth to the ancient roman town of Arles and the surrounding area. Today the population

is still around 150.000 heads, limited by natural resources as pastures and space.



history merino
history merino
merino d'arles

click on the pictures to enlage

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