The Camargue, one of France’s natural gems

Our final day in Provence had come all too quickly. We had loved our base at Muriel’s apartment in Arles and had built up a good rapport with her. However we were delighted when she offered to drive us around and be our guide in the Camargue. So after a quicker than usual breakfast we set off in Muriel’s little Nissan.

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From Arles we headed south first past a lagoon where we had our first glimpse of a flamingo. Beautiful pink.

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Then on to Le Vaccarès which is home to up to 80000 ducks and 60000 coots during winter. We had a look around the visitor interpretation centre and then followed one of the trails, part of which was a rather overgrown boardwalk.

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Along the way there were a few bird viewing hides but we didn’t see any birds.

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After that we drove past some more lagoons and started to see more flamingoes, sadly they were a long way off but a telephoto lens helps.

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Our journey continued and we were certainly out in the country. We had our first sighting of the famous bulls (taureaux).

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As we continued south the road surface ceased being tar and became just a gravel road but Muriel kept going. At one point we were driving along a dyke.

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At times there was more water than land.

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The sluice system was quite an interesting sight.

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After a slow bumpy ride we eventually reached the beach. Well to be more accurate, the Mediterranean. Windsurfers were enjoying themselves in the strong breeze and a wedding party were making preparations. Although we thought they might not have allowed for the tide enough!

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From there we retraced our way back to the north a bit so we could get around the massive lagoons. Along the way we sighted some of the famous wild white horses.

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Of course there many many flamingos to see but they were always a bit of a way off.

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Apart from all the wildlife we became aware of several industries on the Camargue – rice and cattle were obvious but Muriel took us to see salt being harvested from specially set up pans and then piled up ready for transport.

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Nearby to that we checked out another beach and made time to set the camera up to get a photo of the three of us.

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Back in the car for one last long drive across the border into Languedoc-Roussillon to Aigues Morts, a massive fortress town dating back to the late 1200s when Phillip III the Bold completed the walls around the town which now attracts masses of tourists.

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It had been an amazing but long day so it’s sad to say we nodded off in the car as we made the more direct return to Arles with Muriel. After a rest and a look at the map to see where we had been it was dinner time. We were again spoilt as two of Muriel’s friends, Florence and Jean Michel, had cooked dinner for us and brought it around. True to the area we ate slow cooked ‘taureau’ (beef) with lovely Camargue rice followed by a delicious apple tart.

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Local rose and Spanish red complimented the delicious food and the wonderful mix of French and English conversation. It had been one of our most memorable days/nights of our trip to France.

 

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