The Camargue coast is a remarkable world apart, where land and sea intertwine in stunning marine landscapes and marshes that stretch as far as the eye can see.
The Camargue coast
Land of the free
With its vast beaches, the Camargue coast is an ode to wide open spaces, long walks, carefree bicycle rides and exhilarating gallops. In short, the epitome of freedom. It is a land of adventure and harmony with nature, cradled by a superb light throughout the winter months. To immerse yourself in the spirit of the Camargue coast, you need to get off the beaten track and head out on its many footpaths. The coast stretches from Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône to the East, to the mouth of the main arm of the Rhône river (the Grand Rhône) and Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to the West, where the Petit Rhône river arrives. Between them, the sea dyke erected in circa 1860, protects the shore from incoming waves.
Wetlands, lagoons and rice fields
A unique biotope
The coast of the Camargue boasts a rich natural identity, characterized by a succession of wetlands, lagoons and rice fields. To preserve this unique environment, its delicate balance of fresh and saltwater must be maintained. Set at the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, the Etang de Vaccarès is a briny expanse of water linked to a myriad of adjacent lakes. Further on, you’ll come to many freshwater wetlands used to grow crops. The area near the sea is home to saltwater lagoons, with varying degrees of salinity favouring the development of the very-specific flora and fauna comprising the unique biotope of the Camargue coast.
Horses, bulls and birds
A precious fauna
Horses and bulls are the emblems of Camargue’s animal life and can be seen everywhere along the coast. The Camargue horse – a stocky, white-haired breed – was originally bred by the local gardians, Camargue cowboys, to herd bulls in the local ranches. Today, the horses are mainly devoted to tourism. Initially bred for their meat, bulls are now used mainly for the area’s traditional “jeux taurins” games. Listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Camargue is also a paradise for birds, who seek shelter there in winter. Species include pink flamingos, found mainly at Etang du Fangassier and Etang de Galabert, herons, coots, and ducks. You can admire them close up at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont-de-Gau.
Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue
Ecotourism and sustainable development
Committed to ecotourism and sustainable development, the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue spans 75 kilometres of shores and was founded in 1970. Open to all, the reserve offers visitors a hand-picked selection of service providers dedicated to environmental conservation and promising an excellent welcome and knowledge of the local area, including various riding centres.
The shores of the Camargue
A land carved by the hand of man
An ever-changing, amphibious environment, the Camargue has evolved over the centuries by the hand of man. The Delta was farmed as far back as Roman times, but its development picked up speed during the Middle Ages thanks to the efforts of Cistercian and Benedictine monks. They gradually dammed up the arms of the Rhône river (the course of the Petit Rhône was definitively set in 1532 and that of the Grand Rhône in 1711), deforested, planted crops and expanded the village of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The Camargue coast took on its current face after the sea dyke was built to prevent sea ingress. Agricultural activity intensified after WWII.
ROAD TRIP IN THE CAMARGUE
Dream the day away on the wild and windy roads of Camargue... From Arles to Salin-de-Giraud, mysterious marshes, rice fields and majestic flamingos are your new travelling companions!