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Exploring Wonder #7: The Camargue in Southern France

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About The Wonder

The Camargue is in the south of France, near the Mediterranean Sea. It's between two cities called Arles and Montpellier. It's a big area with marshes, fields, and lots of wildlife. Imagine wide-open spaces filled with marshes and fields where the sky stretches out forever and the air smells fresh and clean. Here, you might see big pink birds called flamingos wading in the water, looking like they're dancing to their own tune. And don't forget about the majestic white horses galloping through the fields, their long hair blowing in the wind. But the Camargue isn't just about animals; it's also a place where you can explore and have fun. You can walk along paths that wind through the marshes, feeling the soft ground beneath your feet and listening to the birds singing in the trees. Or you can hop on a boat and cruise along the water, watching the world go by from a different perspective. And when you're ready to take a break, you can visit one of the cute little villages scattered throughout the Camargue. Here, you can meet friendly locals, try delicious food, and learn about the history and culture of the region. So whether you're a nature lover, an adventurer, or just someone looking for a little bit of magic, the Camargue has something for everyone. It's a place where dreams come true and memories are made, and once you've experienced its beauty, you'll never want to leave.


 

Location Map:

Why is Caramgue one of the 100 Natural Wonders of the World?

The Camargue stands out as a truly unique wonder of the world for several reasons. Its vast marshlands, shaped by centuries of natural processes, create a breathtaking backdrop unlike Earth's. Within this stunning landscape, the Camargue is home to iconic species such as the elegant pink flamingos, graceful white horses, and powerful black bulls, adding to its allure as a wildlife haven. Moreover, the Camargue's rich cultural heritage, with traditions of horse breeding, bull ranching, and salt harvesting, infuses the region with a distinct charm and authenticity. This blend of natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and vibrant culture sets the Camargue apart as a one-of-a-kind destination, offering visitors a truly unforgettable experience that can't be found anywhere else in the world.

History/Story of the Wonder?

With a history steeped in fascination, the Camargue holds a treasury of stories passed down through generations, dating back to a time long before our ancestors roamed its lands. Initially inhabited by the Celts, who introduced the resilient horses that would evolve into the iconic white stallions of today, the region has undergone a remarkable transformation from dense forests to expansive marshlands, salt flats, and lagoons, shaped by the forces of nature over millennia.

Despite these changes, the Camargue remains an extraordinary sanctuary, drawing people from far and wide with its distinct landscape and climate. Through the ages, its inhabitants—fishermen, farmers, salt harvesters—have forged a symbiotic relationship with the land, their traditions and livelihoods weaving a rich tapestry of cultural heritage that continues to thrive in this timeless corner of the world.

Today, the Camargue is a popular destination for tourists who come to explore its natural beauty and learn about its history. They can visit picturesque villages, spot wildlife like flamingos and white horses, and take in the breathtaking landscapes. But no matter how much the Camargue changes over the years, one thing remains constant—the stories of the people who have called this magical place home for thousands of years.

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How to get there?

The major airports closest to the Camargue in France are:

  • Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
  • Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport (MPL)
  • Nîmes-Alès-Camargue-Cévennes Airport (FNI)
  • Avignon – Provence Airport (AVN)

Here are the recommended durations and preferred modes of transportation from each of the major airports to the Camargue:

Marseille Provence Airport (MRS):

  • Duration: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours by car.
  • Preferred mode of transportation: Renting a car or arranging a private transfer are the most convenient options. Alternatively, you can take a combination of public transportation (shuttle bus or taxi) to a nearby train station and then continue by train to destinations in the Camargue.

Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport (MPL):

  • Duration: Approximately 1 to 1.5 hours by car.
  • Preferred mode of transportation: Renting a car or arranging a private transfer is recommended for the most flexibility and convenience. Public transportation options are also available, including shuttle buses, taxis, or a combination of bus and train.

Nîmes-Alès-Camargue-Cévennes Airport (FNI):

  • Duration: Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour by car.
  • Preferred mode of transportation: Renting a car is the most convenient option for reaching the Camargue from Nîmes Airport. Taxis or private transfers are also available.

Avignon – Provence Airport (AVN):

  • Duration: Approximately 1 to 1.5 hours by car.
  • Preferred mode of transportation: Renting a car or arranging a private transfer are recommended for reaching the Camargue from Avignon Airport. Public transportation options are limited, but taxis or shuttle services may be available.

Visa Requirements 

As of now, US citizens don't need a visa for short trips (less than 90 days) to France. However, they need a valid passport for at least three months after their planned departure and issued within the last 10 years. It's always a good idea to consult before making travel plans. For visa information and application procedures, you can check our "Apply for Visa" section.

 

Accommodation Areas 

  • Arles (0-10 kilometers) Arles is a historic city located at the edge of the Camargue, making it very close and convenient for exploring the region. It offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals.
  • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (0-10 kilometers) Situated within the heart of the Camargue, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a picturesque seaside town with hotels, resorts, and campsites overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It's an ideal choice for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Camargue.
  • Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (0-10 kilometers) This coastal village is also located within the Camargue, offering direct access to the natural wonders of the area. It provides accommodation options such as hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals in a tranquil setting.
  • Aigues-Mortes (10-20 kilometers) Positioned just north of the Camargue, Aigues-Mortes is a charming medieval town with hotels and guesthouses inside the old walls. It offers a unique atmosphere and easy access to both the Camargue and the town's historic attractions.
  • Le Grau-du-Roi (20-30 kilometers) Situated to the east of the Camargue along the Mediterranean coast, Le Grau-du-Roi is a lively beach town with hotels, apartments, and campsites. It's a bit further away but still within easy reach of the Camargue and offers a coastal retreat for travelers
  • Montpellier (40-50 kilometers) Montpellier is a vibrant city located a bit further from the Camargue, but it offers a wide range of accommodation options including hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals. It's a great choice for travelers who want to combine their visit to the Camargue with exploring a lively urban environment.
  • Nîmes (30-40 kilometers) Nîmes is a historic city known for its well-preserved Roman architecture, including the famous Arena of Nîmes. It offers various accommodation options and is conveniently located within driving distance of the Camargue, making it a good base for exploring both cultural and natural attractions.
  • Avignon (60-70 kilometers) Avignon is another historic city with a rich cultural heritage, including the UNESCO-listed Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes). While it's a bit further from the Camargue, it offers a unique atmosphere and plenty of accommodation options, making it a good choice for travelers interested in history and architecture.

Language 

The main language spoken in France is French. It's what most people use for talking, writing, and everything else in daily life. French is a big part of French culture and is spoken by people all over the country.For travelers, knowing a bit of French can be handy in France, but many people also speak English, especially in touristy areas. Just learning a few basic French phrases like "hello," "thank you," and "excuse me" can go a long way in making your trip smoother. If you're not confident in French, carrying a phrasebook or using translation apps can also help you communicate. Overall, while  French is the main language, you can usually get by with English too.

 

 

Currency

The currency used in France is called the Euro (€). 


Fun Facts About Camargue

  • Land of Horses and Bulls: The Camargue is famous for its white horses, known as Camargue horses, considered one of the oldest breeds in the world. These horses live semi-wild in the marshes and wetlands. The region is also known for its black bulls, which are raised for both farming and traditional bullfighting events known as "course camarguaise."
  • A Birdwatcher’s Paradise: The Camargue is one of Europe’s most important bird-watching sites, especially renowned for being a sanctuary for flamingos. It is the only place in France and one of the few spots in Europe where flamingos breed.
  • A Wetland of International Importance**: The Camargue is designated as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention due to its rich biodiversity and the habitat it provides for numerous species.
  • Gypsy Pilgrimage: Each year, the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue hosts one of the world’s largest gypsy gatherings. Pilgrims come to honor their patron saint, Saint Sarah, also known as the Black Madonna.
  • Rice Production: Surprisingly, the Camargue is a significant rice-producing region in France. The cultivation of rice began in the 1940s to desalinate the soil. Today, it produces a substantial portion of France's rice.
  • Unique Geography: The Camargue is the largest river delta in Western Europe, formed by the Rhône River. It encompasses salt marshes, lagoons, wetlands, and agricultural land, creating a landscape unlike any other in France.
  • Protected Area: Much of the Camargue is protected under various conservation statuses, including a regional nature park (Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue) established to preserve its unique ecological balance and cultural heritage.
  • The Salt of Camargue: The region is also known for its salt pans, which produce 'Fleur de Sel de Camargue,' a high-quality sea salt prized by chefs and food lovers worldwide.

Best Time to Visit The Wonder

Spring (April to June):

  • Weather: Mild temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
  • Crowds: Moderate to low crowds, except during Easter and Pentecost holidays, when it can be busier.

Summer (July to August):

  • Weather: Warm to hot temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F).
  • Crowds: High tourist season with peak crowds, especially in July and August. Accommodations may be more expensive, and popular attractions can be crowded.

Fall (September to October):

  • Weather: Mild temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
  • Crowds: Moderate crowds, decreasing towards October. It's a good time to visit with fewer tourists and pleasant weather.

Winter (November to March):

  • Weather: Cool temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). It can be chilly and wet, especially in December and January.
  • Crowds: Lowest tourist season with very few visitors. Some attractions may have reduced hours or closures during this time.

Overall, spring and fall offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds, making them ideal times to visit the Camargue. However, if you prefer warmer temperatures and don't mind larger crowds, summer can also be a great time to experience the region's unique beauty.

Did this blog excite you? Explore our low-cost flight and hotel options to book a flight and add this marvel to your completed Wonder of the World bucket list. Leave a comment below, ask a question, or share your excitement with others. Your Camargue adventure awaits!

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