Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Provence in Camargue

Tourists riding horses through the marshes of the Camargue in France.

Javier Fernández Sánchez/Getty Images

The Camargue is a major tourist destination in the south of France and is one of France's 44 Regional Nature Parks. The Camargue is a triangular area of Provence south of Arles, encompassing the Rhone delta in the east and a series of salt marshes in the west. It is a major cattle and rice producer. Camargue Cattle are black with long horns and are tended by French "cowboys" called les gardians, which have become a focus for tourist cameras. Salt has been produced in the Camargue since antiquity, with both Greeks and Romans participating.

Visitors can take horseback tours, jeep safaris, and rent bicycles to see this unique place. Since many areas of the Camargue are closed to traffic, bicycles are a fine way to see the area. Bike tours and many hotels are available at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

The interior of the Camargue is best explored on horseback; horses are available for the day from stables along highway D570 between Arles to les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Bird watchers will see the Camargue's abundant resident and migratory birds, including the icon of the Camargue, the pink flamingo, at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Grau. The park is open from 9 am to sundown 7 days a week. There is a charge for entrance.

The old sheep barn that serves as the Musée Camarguais at Mas du Pont de Rousty will tell you about the geology and history of the Camargue. The Camargue can be a day trip while staying locally.


The Camargue's newest Michelin star goes to Chef Armand Arnal at La Chassagnette in Le Sambuc. Housed in a former sheepfold and surrounded by organic gardens, the restaurant even has a library of gastronomic works as well as books about the Camargue. Le Sambuc is about 12 minutes from Arles.

Although somewhat pricey, I recommend L'Hostellerie du Pont de Gau in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer for good, hearty Carmargue cuisine. L'Hostellerie du Pont de Gau is also a place to stay, just outside the Parc Ornithologique. Go out the front door, turn left, get a ticket, and see Pink Flamingos (video).

Where to Stay

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a very popular port city in the Camargue. You can compare prices on user-rated hotels via Hipmunk in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Aigues-Mortes.

Nearby Travel Destinations

The Camargue is in the Bouches Du Rhone region of Provence.

You can visit the Camargue from nearby Arles, of course. Saint Remy, Nimes and the Pont du Gard are also nearby.