The Camargue in Languedoc
A family weekend in the Petite Camargue
Come and discover the ponds, marshlands and reed beds, as well as the pink flamingos, horses and bulls, of the Petite Camargue in France's Gard region. In the south of this vast area, still largely unspoiled, you have the wild dunes of Espiguette beach where thousands of holidaymakers soak up the sun each summer.
Immerse yourself in the Marais du Cougourlier in the heart of Camargue
Stretch your legs with a walk round the marshlands of the Marais du Cougourlier! An easy route, it gives an insight into the different natural habitats of the Camargue and the chance to catch sight of local wildlife. Enjoy an evening of typical regional entertainment at Montcalm: traditional Camargue horse and bull branding and dinner to the sound of gypsy guitars...
(La Manade Saint-Louis, Mas de la Paix, route des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer via the D58)
Take a stroll along the ramparts of the Citadelle d’Aigues-Mortes
As you walk along the 1,634 metres of the city ramparts you'll come across Constance Tower, the grandest of them all, with its ground floor guardsroom and knights room above. From the upper floor, you have a magnificent view over the salt marshes and Camargue countryside. Find tasty snacks of cold meats and cheeses from the Camargue and crème brûlée with syrup of figs at the Château de l’Isolette.
(Château de l’Isolette, 6, rue de la République)
Take to the high seas from the Grau-du-Roi
The little narrow streets on the left bank of the canal hark back to the time when this charming port and town was a simple fishing village. A walk along the vast marina, Port-Camargue, will give you some idea of the size of the town today. Then, when the kids can't hold off any longer, take a trip out to observe the sea birds on the Picardie Catamaran: a fascinating trip which will delight the whole family.
(Sea bird observation, Regard du Vivant association, trips leave from the left bank)
Explore the deep blue sea on the Camargue coast
The magnificently wild Espiguette beach is great for picnics, walks or deep-sea diving in the Mediterranean. Then, visit the Seaquarium to learn more about the depths of the ocean. Kids will just love the multicoloured fish, sea lions and sharks.
(Seaquarium, av. du Palais-de-la-Mer au Grau-du-Roi)
Tip: Discover the traditions of the region at the Fête du Grau-du-Roi! During the first fortnight of September, the festival, rocks the town with the sounds of the Camargue races and the abrivados and bandidos (bull herding on horseback)…
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the gypsy city
This former fishing village may now be a delightful little seaside resort but the Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer Church is a reminder that it is also steeped in history. Dating back to the 12th century, the church is a veritable fortress harbouring the remains of the patron saints of the village, Marie-Jacobe and Marie-Salome. Under the altar stands the fascinating crypt of Saint Sara, patron saint of gypsies, and outside the church a spiral staircase leads to the 'Chemin de Ronde' walkway from where you have a fabulous panoramic view over the sea and the arenas.
(Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer, entry free but there is a charge to access the Chemin de Ronde)
Treasures of nature at Saintes-Maries
Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the wealth of walks and treks in the region. Some riding centres offer amazing sunrise and sunset treks. Take the children on a boat trip on the Petit Rhône to see the pink flamingos and Camargue bulls. Then enjoy a dip in the calm waters of Saintes-Maries beach. The beach-side Lou Santen restaurant serves a simple cuisine based on salads and the freshest of fish.
(Lou Santen, plage Ouest Crin-Blanc, open May to September)
Tip: Taste the region's delicacies, including bull sausage, Camargue rice and fleur de sel, at the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer market, every Monday and Friday at place des Gitans.