The Camargue France
We are attracted by the Camargue France. We drive on one of the Camargue Tours in Provence on our River cruise along the Rhone, It is the southernmost region on our journey. It is not possible to continue. At Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, we look out over sandy beaches and the vastness of the Mediterranean. In the Camargue, the Rhone flows into the sea in a huge estuary. We leave our ship on the banks of the Rhone in Arles. From there, we set out on a half-day jeep safari through the marshland in the estuary of the Rhone. Between the Petit Rhone and the Grand Rhone stretches a landscape of ponds, canals and lagoons.
In between we see thatched huts on the pastures again and again. "These were the traditional huts of the bullfighters," explains our guide Michel in English. His French accent sweetens the explanations in English. He loves his home and shows it to us full of enthusiasm. "The bullfighters were rough fellows," he laughs. "In these huts it was often high. The alcohol dissolved the mood. As the hour went by, the evening could end in scuffles. "Today, the huts are hardly used anymore.
Wildlife of the Camargue France
In between we discover rice fields, grape vines. As we get closer to the sea, bulls, white horses and flamingos are increasingly appearing. Since our tour mainly leads on side roads and gravel paths of the Camargue, the other species are more difficult to identify from the jeep. The rough roads with their potholes shake us through and prevent a clear view. Only when we stop, we recognize avocets and little egrets. In addition, there are a variety of songbirds, which feel comfortable in the bushes, which lines our way along barely traveled gravel roads.
Michel says that global warming is already affecting the region's birdlife. "In the past the storks used to migrate from here to the south in winter. They spent the cold season in southern Africa. Today, they stay here during the winter months, "he explains, pointing to photos in his bird identification book. "Like many other migratory birds, too."
The pink flamingos gather in the Camargue to raise their young. However, we are still here too early in the year to see the offspring.
The white Camargue horses
Probably one of the most striking animal species for the region are the white horses. Although they are often described as wild, they are not. The horses use the bull breeders of the region to deal with the bulls. I'm amazed how small this horse breed is. When asked if the use of horses among the bulls is not dangerous for the animals, Michel explains: "They know how to approach the bulls and the bulls are used to them." Apparently it hardly happens that they are injured in their work with the bulls. I am particularly struck by how gentle this horse breed is. As soon as we stop at a paddock, they curiously approach us and even eat fresh carrots from our hands.
The bulls of Camargue France
The bulls spend most of their lives on the pastures of the marshy plains in the Rhone Delta. They are bred for the Course Camarguaise, the local type of bullfighting. This is different from the Spanish bullfight, in which the bull is killed. In the arenas of Arles or Nimes, it is usually bloodless, at least as long as the Tourneur is adept enough. His job is to wrest the band a tape between the horns. The more skilful and faster he is, the more successful he is.
A Tournur can win high prize money per fight. A bull brings his breeder to the 10.000 Euro pro fight. Good bulls are sent to the arena up to eight times a year. They spend the rest of their lives in the pasture. Bulls can reach an age of more than 20 years. Usually they are not sent to fight after their fifteenth year. If a bull proves to be willing to fight, he gains a special reputation. Famous bulls are after their natural death even in magnificent tombs.
At the Camargue beach
In Saintes Maries de la Mer, statues have even been erected for some of the most successful bulls. These are immediately noticeable when entering the village. Before that, however, we pass the miles of sandy beaches on the Mediterranean coast. Here you can walk for hours along the sea or cool off in the summer from the heat of the day. But we are still too early in the year for that. We enjoy the view of the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea and let the fresh breeze blow over our noses.
Les Saintes Marie de la Mer
We are off season in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. On the streets we see only a few other tourists who, like us, stroll past the cafes. One of the most striking buildings we see is the arena. In front are statues of two famous bulls. Garlan and Vovo, who could not be stopped by wooden walls and broke them again and again. Passing the roundabout, you come to the town hall and the Place des Gitans, the place of the Gypsies. However, we do not meet any during our stay. Instead, we observe a group of men spending their time playing boules.
Marian pilgrimage and pilgrimage of the gypsies
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer has more than 2500 inhabitants. In the summer, this number is swelling to more than 50000 people, as the place is a popular holiday destination. He is also famous for his Marian pilgrimage and especially for the pilgrimage of the Gitanes to the Black Sarah. This is the patron saint of gypsies. In May they celebrate this with one of the biggest ferias. On the 24. Every May a procession from the church to the sea takes place. The believers carry the statue of the Black Sarah. However, caution is advised among the visitors. Celebrations like this attract many pickpockets. We are also warned to take care of our bags.
Since we are in the preseason, the interest in our purses and bags but apparently not so big. And the place also gives the impression of a rather sleepy small town. I do not want to be here for holidays. Since I can well imagine that the numerous cafes and souvenir shops create hubbub in the city. I prefer the quiet salt marshes in the nearby national park. There we meet again the elegant flamingos.
Our conclusion: the Camargue France is a special place
Actually, we already knew it before. The Camargue is a special place. Though not quite as original as we had imagined in our imagination. There are already too many agricultural areas in the outskirts of the Camargue. There rice is grown. Rows of vines stretch along the road that leads us from Arles here. We even see a nightclub on the roadside. However, this is now closed again. "Because the owner was shot dead by the mafia," explains Michel.
However, as we get closer to the sea, the Camargue shows its original character. White horses emerge along the road. Bulls gleefully chew the hay on their pastures. Spoonbills, storks and herons turn their circles over our heads. And the sound of the sea lures us to the water. Finally, in the Camargue National Park, we also find flamingos fishing for their food in the shallow pools. This is the Camargue we were looking for.
To experience them, you have to get away from the paved thoroughfares. We are glad that we cross it by jeep. In the air-conditioned bus, which is only on the tar roads, it is perhaps more comfortable to drive through the region. Whether you experience them as intense as we do on these Camargue Tours, I doubt it. Michel knows where the animals are. He shows us with enthusiasm and gives us his love for the nature of his homeland. So we experience the swamps in the Rhone Delta, as we had hoped for. Do you want to experience such a four-wheel drive in the Camarque, then you will find this here*.
Camargue impressions of travel bloggers
You can find more reports from travel bloggers here:
- Nicole von Freibeuter Reisen was in the rhone delta
- Gabi Reichert describes her visit to Ste. Marie de la Mer
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the publishers of the Trips to Savor and Slow Travel Blog TravelWorldOnline Traveler , They have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline is online since 2001.
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Monika Fuchs is author and photographer of the blog and occasionally writes as a freelance journalist for DIE ZEIT Online and travel magazines like 360 ° Medien, TRIVAGO, etc. She also writes travel guides about destinations and Slow Travel experiences all over the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube.
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