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  France 2002 - The Camargue


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The Camargue

Camargue flamingos
a small flock of flamingos

Stes Maries sunset
sunset over Stes Maries de la Mer

Camargue black bulls in lagoon
Bulls being herded across a lagoon 

Camargue white horses
white horses grazing after a day's work

  This large expanse of marshland and water south east of Arles is now a protected nature reserve. Until recently the annual loss of water by evaporation was significant but land usage is now controlled  to try to preserve the rich flora and fauna.   It was also mosquito ridden for many years but we weren’t aware of them in early June.  The main town on the coast is Saintes Maries de la Mer with its bullring on the seafront and many cafes and restaurants.  A new promenade and sea defences have recently been built. We found that it was possible to park overnight behind the seawall at the east beach for a moderate fee, collected by the car park attendant each morning. From there it was a short stroll into the town where the impressive church belfry was lit up by the setting sun.  

Stes Maries belfry
Stes Maries de la Mer belfry

 It is an easy ride or walk along the digue or dyke which runs across the entrance of the main lagoon and in fact can be followed eastwards for about nine miles to Port Louis. After passing several flocks of flamingos, herons and egrets especially in the region of the local municipal waste tip where they were most numerous, I stopped and watched as a cowboy drove a herd of black bulls across the shallow lagoons to new grazing.

Stes Maries beach cafe
traditional Camargue style thatched house now a beach cafe

Further along the beach was an ingenious recycling effort where an old electricity pylon made a useful footbridge
recycled pylon as footbridge

Another place worth visiting is the nature reserve La Capelière on the eastern side of the main lagoon, the Etang de Vacarrès


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