Ready for a variation on the circus theme? If you're lucky enough to be visiting during the two months Zingaro performs at home (usually in late fall), you'll have the chance to witness a truly unique spectacle. Since 1984, France's foremost horse whisperer, who goes by the name of Bartabas, has created captivating equestrian shows that mix theater, dance, music and poetry. The 500-seat theater-in-the-round on the outskirts of Paris is part of a gypsy caravan, where trainers
and their families, 45 horses, and Bartabas himself live and work. The horses perform in close proximity to the audience in astonishing displays of choreography and acrobatic skill. Shrouded in mystery, Bartabas has taken his inspiration from eclectic sources (including Japanese Butoh dance, shamanism, Gypsy music, Baroque liturgy, and the Mexican Day of the Dead). The results are utterly original. If you can't make it for Zingaro, there is a consolation prize: in 2003, Bartabas created the Académie du Spectacle Équestre at the royal stables of Versailles (Grandes Écuries), where audiences can view a twice-daily display on weekends and certain weekdays.