A day in Camargue from L’oeil d’Eos on Vimeo.
Beaches and reed beds, rice and wheat, the salt ponds and the Mediterranean – the Camargue Regional Nature Park is multifarious. Born out of a struggle between river and sea, the Camargue, in biological terms, is one of Western Europe’s richest regions, and an important stopping-off point for migratory birds as they go back and forth between Europe and Africa.
It is also France’s only nesting site for the flamingo, its world-famous emblem. And then there are the bulls, horses, beavers, owls, gulls, terns, herons and wading birds.
The Camargue is a subtle blend of contrasts, both entrancing and ever-changing. It reveals it-self in a multitude of ways, depending on the time of day and the season.
The Camargue is a large wetland in the Rhône delta. It is exceptionally diverse in its flora and fauna, its scenery and the culture of Provençe in all its historical grandeur.
Whether you are interested in nature or in the traditions of the Camargue, we can give you the information you need to appreciate the park, bearing in mind its vulnerability.
Visiting museums or natural features, between the sea and the pools, on foot or on horseback, following the tourist routes or relaxing on the beach – you can organise your visit according to your preferences, while also respecting the quality of your surroundings.
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Freshwater marshes and reed beds
These are common in the upper Camargue and on the banks of the Rhône. Water plants such as bullrushes, cane and reeds are abundant in the marshes, which are used for hunting and, in summer, pasturage. They provide shelter for nesting and wintering birds. Reeds (« sagno », in Provençal) are cut in winter by the « sagneurs ». They are used as a roofing material.
The salt plains (« sansouires ») and meadowlands
Salt plains are a feature of the lower Camargue. Their salt content is so high that only a few plant species such as glasswort, saltwort, obione and statice can survive there. They are prone to periodic flooding, and in summer are marked by white traces due to the presence of salt. Meadowland occupies only small, fragmented areas in which the effects of salt are less obvious.
The salt ponds
These are to be found along the sea. In reality they are lagoons that have been adapted to maximise their salt concentration.The salt ponds are extensive and rich in invertebrates, which makes them an important source of food for birds, and in particular the flamingos, which spend most of their time there.
The beaches and dunes
The Camargue has some 50 km of beaches. Outside the perimeter of the protective dykes – and thus subject to the caprices of the sea – the coastline is in a permanent state of change. The dunes are inhabited by spectacular flowering plants and a number of rare insects.
The ponds and lagoons
The shallow ponds of the lower Camargue are separated from the sea by a sandbar. They are more or less salty, and communicate with the sea via sluice gates. They provide a refuge for birds and fish, and play a major role in water management.
20% of the Camargue is used to grow rice. The water taken from the Rhône for this purpose desalinates the soil to a certain depth, and the rice fields are also home to nesting birds such as the heron. They are flooded in April and allowed to dry out in September for the harvest.