The final words of matador Ivan Fandiño as he was rushed to hospital after being gored in the ring were reportedly: "Hurry up, I'm dying."
The 36-year-old veteran was impaled by a half-tonne bull after tripping on his cape during a corrida in south-west France on Saturday.
Juan del Alamo, the matador who later killed the bull, said: "I can't believe it. None of us understand how it could have happened; it was all so fast. The bull knocked him down with its hindquarters and he fell face down."
Mr Fandiño, a matador for 12 years, was originally from the Basque country. He died after the bull's horn pierced a number of vital organs in his torso, including his lungs.
French media said he suffered a heart attack on the way to hospital.
He had been injured in the ring twice before, most recently in 2015 and is believed to be the first bullfighter to die in the ring in France since 1921, The Times reported.
It is thought around 1,000 bulls die every year in French fighting rings.
The Spanish royal family and prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, honoured Mr Fandiño.
King Felipe, who not known as a supporter of the sport, tweeted his tribute to a "great bullfighter figure".
Nuestro sentido homenaje y nuestro recuerdo para Iván Fandiño, gran figura del toreo.— Casa de S.M. el Rey (@CasaReal) June 17, 2017
Although bullfighting is traditionally associated with areas of northern Spain such as the Basque country and Catalonia, it is also popular in the Basque speaking areas of south-west France.
Mr Fandiño's death comes almost a year after the death of Spanish matador, Victor Barrio, who was gored on live television in Teruel, eastern Spain.
Many have condemned the sport for its cruelty and in 2010 the Catalan regional government in Barcelona voted for a ban in 2010.
The ban was struck down by the Spanish constitutional court last year as they said Catalonia had exceeded their authority in preceding over cultural heritage.