The Camargue: tourism between the sea and the land

To visit Provence is to be in the face of an incredible diversity of landscapes. Among the dazzling natural sites that the Midi offers, do not miss the Camargue.

The Horses of Camargue

 

The Carmague from east to west

The Camargue is formed by the Delta of the Rhône, which passes to the north through the ancient village of Arles. The waters of this powerful river, which has its source in the Swiss Alps, pours out onto the land, forming a humid zone that is quite exceptional.  The heart of the Camargue is bound on the east by the Rhône, which spills into the sea at  Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, and on the west by the Petit Rhône, which opens into Saintes Maries de la Mer.

There are many ponds in this wild area. In order of size, from largest to smallest: Vaccarès, Monro, Consécanière.

In the south, the Digue à la Mer isolates the Rhône Delta and controls the exchange of water between the ponds and the Mediterranean Sea.   

The Petite Camargue is located to the west of the Rhône Delta, up to the medieval village of Aigues-Mortes. Seaside resorts such as the Grau du Roi welcome sun lovers. 

A string of villages, with their narrow streets, old houses and their clocks, are scattered along.  From Arles to Montpellier, Saint-Gilles, Vauvert, Aimargues or Lunel, known for its running of the bulls...

An austere and sumptous nature in the Camargue

The Regional Nature Park of Camargue

The region is popular among bird watchers for the presence of numerous birds, who either live or migrate here.  The ecosystem of the Camargue, one of incredible biodiversity, has endemic species (that is to say that are not found elsewhere) and require special protection efforts.   

The Regional Nature Park of Camargue, created in 1970, was designed to protect the ponds, wetlands and marine habitats, the prairies of the region, while maintaining traditional agricultural activities, especially the cultivation of rice and the breeding of bulls. 

You can take advantage of the park welcome center to plan your visit and organize some excursions.

Hiking and bird watching

The natural areas of Camargue are spectacular, and nature activities are numerous. You can straddle the ponds and rice fields and become a real “herdsman”, the cowboy of Provence who guards his bulls. Equestrian tours are a feature of the region, but you can also trade your horse for a bicycle or hiking shoes.  Among the fantastic itineraries, the Digue à la Mer is especially  prized by nature lovers. 

The birds are omnipresent and it is not unknown in the Camargue to spot pink flamingos. They are more numerous when the weather is mild, but some live in Provence all year.  You can therefore see some of them in the winter. 

Beaches and water sports

The beaches of Camargue are enormous. Among the most famous, the Beach of Beauduc in Salins de Giraudoù stir the winds of total freedom. Lovers of kite surfing, sailboards and other board sports enjoy the exceptional conditions that prevail in the region. The beach in Piémanson is primitive. For touristic sites, it is better to go to the Grau du Roi and the seaside resorts near Montpellier in the west.

The not to be missed tourist sites of Camargue

Between nature, culture, heritage and history, you will not have the time to be bored during your tourist escape to Camargue. 

The ancient city of Arles

How about beginning your visit to Camargue in the city of Arles ? This ancient city has monumental ruins that testify to Roman opulence .  The arenas of Arles are still used and still host, nearly 2,000 years later, various concerts, shows and special events.  It is visited year round.  You can also see the ancient theater or the necropolis of Alyscamps. This is a lovely village, with its little lanes, small businesses and its squares lined with cafes. 

Pilgrimage to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

According to tradition, after the crucifixion, three people close to Jésus Christ, Marie-Madeleine, Marie Salomé and Marie Jacobé, landed in Provence. This is a memory that is perpetuated in the names of the community.

Several times a year, a  gypsy pilgrimage of Saintes Maries de la Mer pays homage to this memory. The city puts on a festive air, inspired by fervent faith, where processions and music  mix with songs and laughter.  An event of rare intensity, authentic and powerful. 


The running of the bulls in Camargue

The region has made a specialty of a sport spectacular, the race for the “cocarde”. Ribbons and other items are attached to the horns of a bull.  The participants, called “raseteurs” must capture them.  These very popular races are spectacular and those who take part vie with one another for daring, to impress the crowds. In contrast to the bull ring, the bull is neither wounded nor killed.  He is raised in fresh air.

The dream of Saint-Louis in Aigues-Mortes

The lord dreamed of possessing a port in the Mediterranean in the Royal Domain for trading, but also to prepare for crusades and expeditions.  The town of Aigues-Mortes was surrounded by a strong rampart which today attracts the attention of tourists.  A strong dungeon completes it.  You can walk through the old streets of the town or walk along the ramparts and imagine the excitement that once reigned in these places, when boats landed at the foot of the walls. 

Come to Camargue: useful tips

The Camargue is made up of humid areas, ponds and marshes. They make it hot.  From spring until fall, many mosquitoes and other blood feeding insects (who sting you to suck your blood) can be flying around.  Consider covering yourself or using a repellent.

If you have a dog, we advise you to buy a repellent against sandflies and use a dropper against mosquitoes and sandflies before going out.  In this way, you can protect them against certain illnesses such as leishmaniasis.


Due to a national strike, the Palace of Versailles will be closed next Tuesday May 22nd. Click HERE to get more information.