Office de Tourisme des Saintes Maries de la Mer
Saintes Maries de la Mer - Tourist office
The village of Les Saintes-Maries, dominated by its fortified church, sits between the Mediterranean and the étangs (lagoons), in the very heart of the Camargue.
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was once just a remote piece of land at the end of the Rhône delta.
The sea shore was many kilometres away and no road worthy of the name crossed the Camargue. This isolation, which lasted until the 19th century, enabled the village to preserve its authenticity. Nowadays, it is a major centre of bull ranching tradition and has established itself as the capital of the gypsy people.
Twice a year, in May and October, gypsies come from all over Europe to worship Mary the mother of James, Mary Salomé and Sarah, their patron saint, who are said to have landed at this spot in 40 A.D. These pilgrimages are very lively and colourful, full of the sound of guitars. Visitors can watch the blessing of the horses and the procession to the sea. The spectacle is exciting, with the herdsmen on horseback, the Arles ladies in traditional costumes, the horse races and the branding parties.
Visitors should not miss the 12th century church and the Baroncelli Museum devoted to Camargue zoology and the culture of the gardian herdsmen before boarding the boats that navigate in the delta, bathing in the sea or riding a mountain bike along the 20 kms of the 19th century Digue à la Mer sea wall.
The village of Les Saintes-Maries has a pleasure port and has also become a major centre for competitive sports. A windsurfing speedway has been constructed near the harbour and the best speed windsurfers come there to beat records.
- Pets allowed
- Accessible for disabled
Information provided by OT Saintes Maries de la Mer