Camargue Journals

The Camargue: Not Your Mama's South of France

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A June 2003 trip to Camargue by artsnletters

View of homestead farm and rice fields (with Photoshop effects) Photo, Camargue, France More Photos
Quote: The Camargue is France with a Spanish/Gypsy flavor. This nature reserve is famous for scenic marshes, black bulls, white horses, and pink flamingos. Stay in a fortified crusader town or a whitewashed gypsy beach village; enjoy outdoor activities like birdwatching and horseback riding.

The Camargue: Not Your Mama's South of France

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Overview

City walls at sunset Photo,
Quote:
I was introduced to the beauty of the Camargue through a rather schmaltzy 1971 movie called Friends, which was filmed here. I was entranced by the glittering water, pink clouds of flamingos rising out of the reeds, and white horses galloping across spits of sand and through shallow, silvery pools. But I found it even more beautiful than I expected, with emerald-green rice fields, red-roofed farmhouses, and lines of dark green trees marching across the landscape. Then there is the appeal of the locals, many of whom have a romantic gypsy cast (black hair, olive skin, and brilliant black eyes), and their distinctive culture. It’s an unusual corner...Read More

Hotel Mediterranee

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Hotel | "Hotel Mediterranée "

Hotel Mediterranee  Photo, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
Quote:
The two-star Hotel Mediterranée is located a couple blocks inside the perimeter of the pedestrian zone, not far from the arena and the Tourist Information office. It presents a charming face to its broad pedestrian street, with a profusion of green-leaved vines and brilliant blooms setting off its fresh white exterior. With just 14 rooms, it’s small enough to be fairly personal, run by a staff that appeared to know little English, although it was not difficult to make myself understood with phrasebook French. A pleasant, homey lobby furnished in country style and decorated liberally with potted plants welcomed me. A flowery patio waited just off the far side of the lobby. The entire first floor was qu...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2007

Hotel Mediterranee
4, Rue Frederic-Mistral - Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
+33 4 9097-8209

Hotel St. Louis

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Hotel

Cafe Le Perroquet Photo,
Quote:
Arriving in Aigues-Mortes without a reservation or even a listing of local hotels, I had no great expectations of what I’d find for a hotel. Fortunately, the 22-room Hotel St. Louis (named after King Louis IX, founder of Aigues-Mortes), which I stumbled onto just down the street from the main square, place St-Louis, suited me just fine. Its dark lobby was almost a little too classy, given my limited budget, and I caught a glimpse of a walled patio with a flourish of potted plants to the rear. But the friendly English-speaking desk clerk lined me up with a room on the second floor for a reasonable €63 and gave me a pass to park inside the city walls for the night. Entrance into Aigues-Mortes is control...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2007

Spit-roasted chicken, Provencal style - Yummm! Photo, Camargue, France
Quote:
Oh good, I thought as I pulled up to Place des Gitans, a market! I love Provençal markets, and I’d arrived at the tail end of one, just before noon. After a wander around looking at the usual displays of crafts, cheeses, sausages, and so forth, I salivated at the tantalizing aroma beckoning from a rotisserie trailer. Several beautiful brown chickens were turning on spits, dripping their juices over a tray of potato and onion chunks. I didn’t resist; for about €6 I got half a chicken and a generous serving of the potatoes, fragrant with garlic and herbs. Yummmm!...Read More
Hotel Mediterranee  Photo, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
Quote:
The drive south from Arles along the D570 road through the Rhone River delta passed by downy pastures, flooded rice fields, and beds of reeds under a muggy early-summer sun, a flat rural landscape dotted with occasional farms roofed with red tiles and interspersed with dry scrubby patches. A few kilometers later, I caught my first glimpse of the town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a cluster of whitewashed buildings with blue shutters, its church topped with a pyramid of arches in which the church bells hung. The feel was more sleepy Greek island village than French coastal resort....Read More

Aigues-Mortes: A Crusader Fortress

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Story/Tip

Tower, bridge and moat Photo,
Quote:
"Our eyes set upon Aigues-Mortes . . .a jewel carefully set in a case of stone." -- Alexandre DumasPorte de Gardette, an impressive entrywayMy first view of Aigues-Mortes was a stunner, just beyond the bridge arching over the canal west of the old city. Facing the canal is a formidably stark, blond stone wall topped by toothed battlements. The fortified town is perfectly rectangular, with square towers at each corner and eleven fortified entrances, each unique but otherwise with a pointed Gothic arch. Just outside the...Read More
Marshland and farmhouse Photo, Camargue, France
Quote:
The Camargue includes most of the extensive Rhône River delta, territory crisscrossed by canals but still with many wild areas. If you come here, you absolutely must venture out to view some of the renowned scenery, if only to see some of the flamingos that populate the marshes. The lazy man’s way is to take a drive in your rental car; the more energetic or those without a car can take the same trip on a bicycle rented from any of the rental shops along rue de la République in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The land here is completely flat, and the only inclines you may encounter are the very occasional bridges, so it is easy biking. The roads are in very good condition and have a wide paved shoulder (rare...Read More
Some of the Camargue's famous black cattle Photo, Camargue, France
Quote:
I confess that ever since I’d seen the movie Friends, which is set in the Camargue, I knew I’d have to come here one day and go horseback riding to get out into the uncultivated areas and see the local animal life in its typical habitat. The experience did not disappoint.You’ll see many stables along the main roads of the Camargue: a long open shed signed "Promenade à Cheval" shading a rank of saddled horses, most if not all of them white. According to my chat with the tourist information office, rates at ...Read More