Two days to discover the Camargue

Who I am
Martí Micolau

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The Camargue? a marshy, fertile and very green region that develops at the mouth of the Rhone, at the point where it flows into the Mediterranean. Before organizing this on the road in the south of France I had never heard of this area and foolishly we decided to dedicate only a couple of days to it.
The Camargue? a land that tastes good, that smells of traditions handed down from father to son, where the presence of man? secondary, he had to learn to relate to it following the rhythms of nature.
The Camargue? also a land of shades, we are in the south of Provence but the feeling you have? that of being away from those villages so? delicious and with attention to the smallest details. Among the streets of its centers more? important, Arles and Saintes Maries de La Mer, the gaze is captured by Camargue details that recall the gypsy culture and in the great arena bullfights and Camargue races are advertised among horses bred in the region. It is in these places that towards the end of May of each year the gathering of the gypsies takes place. important of Europe.

1 day

The first day after picking up our car at the Lyon station begins our real road trip that will take us. in the Camargue. The transfer is not? short, we spend three hours in the car before arriving in Arles and looking for our hotel. We are staying in the Porte de Camargue, a really nice pension just after the bridge that connects this part of the city? to the tourist heart of Arles. I feel strongly to recommend it not only because? well-kept and very clean,? the place pi? nice in which we stayed throughout our trip, but also for the riverside view. I don't know about you, but many times I found myself on a bridge looking at a panorama dreamed of on various photographs from afar, that of Arles directly recalls those "oil on canvas" paintings so much studied during high school. The light then? different, ? soft,? it is not difficult to understand why? Van Gogh loved this country so much.

The afternoon ? dedicated to the discovery of Arles. First we go in search of the tourist office where we take both the map of the Camargue that we will need? the next day, is that of Arles where the various tourist routes are marked. Do we choose to follow what it will bring us? in the footsteps of Van Gogh, in the places where the tormented painter used to place his easel and paint. It was sometimes funny, sometimes a little disappointing, to see how certain places have changed, some devoured by a modernity. bursting and in my opinion not always positive. On the way we look for the famous Caf? Van Gogh what? s? remained as in the picture but by now really too touristy.
During our journey we decide to see at least externally the Great Arena from the Roman era where the Camarguense races were taking place.
After dinner we go back to the village for a last tour in the evening? really a place more? quiet and lively, full of places where you can have an aperitif or stop for dinner.

2 day

The second day ? entirely dedicated to the Camargue and its naturalistic beauties.
One of the essential places are the salt pans that are located shortly after the town of Salin du Giraud, here we take the opportunity to stop at the tourist office to ask for information and, guess what, we met a very kind French lady who helped us in ... Italian! And I who thought the French were unpleasant!
We were saying ... the panorama that can be observed from the panoramic point on the salt pans? surreal. The earth ? dry, c '? very little vegetation, the wind blows very strong and in the background c '? this gorgeous pink sea.
We continue our tour following the road that leads us to a large beach shortly after the salt pans. The beach is not? nothing special, a huge beach destination especially for campers, but the way to get there? of rare beauty. We stop more? times to take pictures of the many birds we meet, storks, flamingos, herons and many others whose names I don't know.
Around lunchtime we decide to go first to take the room in the Manade we had booked and then to head towards Saintes Maries de la Mer. La Manade? a sort of farm where bulls and Camargue horses are bred, where? possible to stay and where events are organized every evening to promote local culture and traditions. Visiting a manade? one of those things that I would have loved to do, but it has a cost: 40euro per person only for the farms and about half? to attend the shows, interesting yes, but too expensive.
We have lunch in Saintes Maries de la Mer where as soon as we arrive we struggle a lot to find a parking space,? how to look for it in Ostia Lido at two in the afternoon of any Sunday in August. The country in fact? literally stormed by vacationers from all over Europe, including Italy, which make it truly, and excessively, touristy. The narrow streets of the village are lined with souvenir shops, local products and restaurants. To escape the crowds we decide to first visit the Cathedral, in whose crypt are the remains of Sara, the patron saint of the gypsies, and then go up to the panoramic terrace at a cost of 2,50 euros. Well, the view from up there? it really speaks for itself. Is beautiful.
If you have time? It is possible to make short cruises on the Rhone but for reasons of time we gave up.

To recover from the disappointment of Saintes Maries we visit, by now in the late afternoon, the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau, one of the most? most beautiful I've ever seen. The whole park? a nature reserve where animals live free, visitors are not invasive thanks to the pre-established routes and some walkways. It is possible to observe storks, herons, ducks and flamingos at a very close distance. The park also? also a treatment and rehabilitation center for injured birds. The ticket costs 7 euros and I recommend a visit towards sunset, when most of the visitors are now? flowed out and the light makes everything more? suggestive.
For dinner we return to Saintes Maries where we taste the bull meat and after a last walk in the village we return to the manade, why? tomorrow our journey continues, we will go to the heart of Provence!

The Camargue? a land that must be discovered calmly, I can't wait to go back and discover it by bicycle along its many nature trails!

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