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Not only a shining example in the Mediterranean but also worldwide, the Camargue delta has been carved by the powerful Rhône over the course of centuries. It’s a place where land, sea and sky appear seamless, seasoned with wind, water, sun and a generous pinch of salt: the change of scene is incredible and the impact infinite. The same can be said for its many quiet “land’s end” beaches.
As far as nature is concerned, marshes and lagoons jostle for room with sansouïres, saline scrub lands planted with salicornia or marsh samphire. Near the reedbeds – source of many thatched roofs in Europe –white Camargue horses, a hardy local breed, graze peacefully alongside black-robed bulls with their distinctive lyre-shaped horns. Of the 660 bird species in Europe, more than half can be found in the Camargue. Don’t miss the flocks of pink flamingos either, characteristically coloured by the tiny shrimp of their favourite diet.
From Aigues-Mortes to Saint-Gilles, from Vauvert to Montcalm via Saint-Laurent d’Aigouze, le Cailar or le Grau-du-Roi and Port Camargue – there is no risk of boredom here. The local villages abound with unrivalled sites and many activities. In the summer season, things come to a peak with celebrations of their local saints’ feast days. Then bulls are king and manadier herders are stars. But you’ll also want to sit and partake of the culinary delights, notably the local stew, gardiane, paired with delectable Camargue rice. Then, why not take off for a horseback ride, a bicycle jaunt, or give a sea kayak a whirl ?
“Camargue offers great variety, between the arid scrublands and the beautiful rich soil where such good rice is grown.”
Jean-Claude Groul, manadier
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In the heart of a 220 hectare regional nature reserve, the Scamandre Discovery Centre near Vauvert offers an exploration of Camargue flora, fauna and lifestyles, especially with its three discovery paths, ranging from 500 meters to 4 km long:
The Lady Cheese Maker’s Path, named for one part of the domain, was long used for ewe herding. This 4-kilometre loop winds through fine and diverse natural surroundings. The route includes a panoramic viewpoint over the Scamandre lagoon. Informative leaflets are available at the Centre’s gift shop.
The Bittern Path is on a raised boardwalk and is accessible to all. It meanders leisurely through the bittern’s habitat and is dotted with explanatory panels. Visitors can also pick up information leaflets at the Centre’s gift shop.
Last of all, the Lagoon Path: this half-kilometre board path easily accessible to the disabled gives an overview of the main landscapes and environments specific to the site.
For more info on the Centre du Scamandre
Far from crowds or traffic, slip on your shipmaster’s cap, board a comfortable boat, and cast off to explore the Rhône canal at Sète. As you float along the waterway, you’ll pass picturesque landscapes and stop at charming villages like Bellegarde and Gallician – all in all, an unforgettable journey. Just sit back and imagine yourself in the hustle and bustle of the Middle Ages’ Madeleine fairs at Beaucaire, or picture wine merchants heartily bartering as they embark at Saint Gilles. And most especially, don’t forget to venture from the waterway on foot or bike to explore Gardoise Camargue’s natural beauty and heritage sites such as the fortified ramparts of Aigues-Mortes, outlined against the marsh horizons.
OR...continue your exploration of Gard County