Camargue, countryside and coast
Not to be missed - Family
Begin your trip at Pont de Gau Park in Saintes-Maries set within the Camargue Nature Reserve. By foot, on horse-back or by canoe, you can birdwatch to your heart's content in this unspoilt and well-preserved nature area. Invigorated, take a breather on the beautiful sand at Crin Blanc beach. For your second day, head to Arles for a spot of recreational fishing or a nature walk at La Capelière. After being totally immersed in the lives of the 'gardians' (Camargue herdsmen) at the Jacques Bon stud farm, watch the splendid sunset on the horizon in Arles.
Day 1 – Birdwatching at Pont de Gau Park
Parc ornithologique du Pont de Gau Quartier Pont de Gau Rn 570 13460 Saintes Maries de la Mer
Rise early to go and admire the flora and fauna at Pont de Gau Ornithological Park, a birdwatching paradise spread over 60 hectares. Huge aviaries imitating the natural habitat of birds house various species of our feathered friends. An amazing spot to see the iconic pink flamingo at extremely close range. If you're fortunate to visit the park in winter, make sure you catch the courtship displays. The site also has its own wildlife health centre to treat different species, from birds native to the region to those in transit. Head to the Ginès Marsh where you can observe birds without disturbing them. Magical.
Day 1 – Horse-riding at La Grenouillère equestrian centre
Centre de Tourisme Equestre La Grenouillère Mas de la Grenouillère 571 chemin Haut des Launes 13460 Saintes Maries de la Mer
La Grenouillère equestrian centre breeds its own horses and is a great place for horse-riding enthusiasts to spend the morning. At a gentle trot or exhilarating gallop, discover the wonderfully diverse Camargue scenery in the safe hands of a professional instructor. Beginners can learn the ropes in the riding arena. Not to miss: the three-hour ride through Camargue Park, a true moment of communion with nature at its most untamed.
Day 1 – Simple, tasty fare at Le Brûleur de Loups
Le Bruleur de Loups 1 avenue Gilbert Leroy 13460 Saintes Maries de la Mer
Stop for lunch and sea views on the terrace at Le Brûleur de Loups. The décor may be conventional, but you always expect fresh local ingredients that showcase traditional dishes at their best. Items on the menu include Camargue bull steak with Roquefort sauce or bass en croûte. Bon appétit!
Day 1 – The Petit-Rhône by boat
After lunch, relax into the afternoon with a boat trip departing from the port in the centre of the town of Saintes-Maries. There's a choice of vessels offering excursions along the Petit-Rhône ranging from an hour to a day. The perfect opportunity to take souvenir photos of pink flamingos and Camargue bulls and horses.
Day 1 – Take a break at Crin Blanc beach
Plage Crin Blanc
To conclude your afternoon, head to Crin Blanc, behind Les Launes lagoon, any time from 4 pm. This 600-metre stretch of white sand is a lovely spot to recharge your batteries and is popular with families. The beach is surrounded by lovely dunes and affords a clear view of Clos du Rhône beach. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to see horse-riders galloping across the sand!
Day 2 – Get hooked with Camargue Fishing
Camargue Fishing Bac du Sauvage Route D85 13460 Saintes Maries de la Mer
For your second day, early-risers might want to brave the waters to go deep-sea fishing on the hunt for giant Camargue catfish, Rhône zanders and Mediterranean red tuna. With your guide Franck Davin, you'll get to learn how to use high-quality rods and reel fish in fast while he regales you with tales about Camargue. Departs from Le Bac des Sauvages.
Day 2 – Discovering nature at La Capelière
La Capelière - Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature - Réserve Nationale de Camargue La Capelière - C 134 de Fiélouse 13200 Arles
Continue your second day getting to know Camargue from across the delta in the area around Arles. Nature enthusiasts might want to stop at La Capelière, the national society for the protection of nature, based in a traditional Camarguais farmstead. Four marshland wildlife observatories and a 1.5-km walking trail will take you right into the wilds of nature.
Day 2 – Day in the life of a Camargue cowboy
Manade Jacques Bon Mas de Peint Le Sambuc 13200 Arles
Next make your way to Manade Jacques Bon, a stud farm at Mas de Peint, surrounded by bulls, horses and rice fields. Learn all about the everyday lives of these Camargue herdsmen on their 550-hectare estate. The centre has a 1,000-seat arena, a sheep barn and a lounge bar. Try your hand at traditional activities like ferrade (branding) or herding. 'Camarguais days' offering a variety of things to see and do are also available. Top tip: have lunch on arrival and spend the whole afternoon there.
Day 2 – The magic of sunset
La plage d'Arles - Plage de Piémanson
To wrap up the day, head to the wild beach at Piémanson which stretches for 28 kilometres well away from the more built-up areas. After going in for a dip (weather permitting!), make sure you stay to catch sunset and the kites in the sky on windy days. A breathtaking spectacle! Good to know: the eastern end of the beach is a naturist area.
- Exploring Camargue by bike to admire the typical white houses and paddy fields
- Travelling back to antiquity by visiting the Roman heritage in the city of Arles
- Pottering around the charming lanes in the historic centre of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
- The wild stampedes of Camargue horses on the wind-swept shores of the Mediterranean
The best time to visit
- Late May to feel the spiritual fervour at the Gypsy Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Sarah (Sara the Black) with masses, singing, processions and Camargue herdsmen
- July-August to relive gladiator combats, Olympic sports and more at Arles Amphitheatre
- 31 July to attend the votive celebrations in Saintes-Maries with young girls in traditional dress, Provençal dancing and abrivado (bull-running in the city streets)
Not to be missed, Family
Arles, Saintes Maries de la Mer
All year round
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