The draille de Méjanes by mountain bike
"This excursion bordering the natural reserve of Camargue through the draille de Méjanes, also called the draille des cinq Gorges is a beautiful retreat along one of the largest wetland reserves in Europe. On the trail riding my bike, all the originality and the heritage interest of these vast areas have revealed themselves, particularly the 283 species of birds including 269 of heritage interest. A true delight!" Philippe Isenmann - RNP of Camargue
The arenas of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
The fortified church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
True highlight of the Camargue (15 m), the church offers a breathtaking view of the village and all the Camargue. The 53 steps of a spiral staircase lead to the roof of the church where the panorama unfolds in all its splendour : up there, you can take advantage of a wide angle vision on the city, the sea and the ponds. Intense and sparkling blue of the Mediterranean Sea, purple hue of the Imperial pond The wind, the sun, the view of the calm expanse of the sea invite you to discover this landscape.
At the graus level (or passages), communication canals between the sea and the littoral ponds, you will find fish, towards the flooded sansouïre and the ponds or towards the sea. Migrating species include mullet, sea bass, but also sea bream, sole and especially eel. Born in the Sargasso Sea, she joined the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts after a long journey. She comes to grow in the coastal ponds or rivers where she spends several years of her life.
The Departmental Reserve of Imperialists
Classified Departmental Reserve, Imperial and Malagroy Ponds were acquired by the Departmental Council of Bouches-du-Rhone in 1964 to protect these fragile natural environments (2,770 ha) which are home to many species of birds. The fishing, a traditional activity in Camargue, is practiced in the Imperial reserve in a boat without motor which imposes the use, as formerly, of the "partygue" (pole). Fishermen are looking for shrimps, eels.
Le Bouvau d’Aubanel
There are 40 species of mosquitoes but only ten are biting. Females recover protein from the human blood that are necessary for the maturation of their eggs. They lay thousands of eggs on the soil dried up that are waiting, sometimes years, the rise of the waters to hatch. The mosquito is inconvenient for the man but it is useful to many species: dragonflies, fish, bats ... that feed on them. It is therefore an indispensable link in the Camargue biodiversity.
Sweet and reed marshes
The "soft" marshes are characteristic of the upper Camargue, where the influence of salt is less marked. Consisting of a dense and high vegetation (reeds, cattails, bulrushes), they are a sanctuary for many birds (ducks, stilts ...), amphibians and reptiles. The reed beds, interspersed with open water, extend into these slightly brackish freshwater marshes. Habitat of waterfowl, some are cut in winter for harvesting the reed, which is used to cover the thatch roofs.
Ponds or lagoons
The Vaccarès, ruler of the average Camargue, and the lower salt ponds are the heart of the Camargue. Separated from the sea by a sandy cordon, they are in intermittent communication with the sea. A favourite place for birds and fish, they play a vital biological role in the delta and play a major role in water management. Millions of young marine fish come here to spend the first year of their lives before returning to the sea.
The Bois des Rièges
Located in the heart of the Camargue National Nature Reserve, the Bois des Rièges has been classified as an integral reserve since 1927. The wood consists of 8 massive wooded dunes, the last vestiges of a Camargue coastline some 3000 years ago! There is also: large juniper groves, centennial Phenicia and umbrella pines. No incongruous remains that dot so often Provencal nature, the Bois des Rièges is the last space of the Camargue where nature has retained its rights.
The European bee-eater
Representative landscape of the lower Camargue, the sansouïre constitutes an environment where salt exerts a total influence. She lives to the rhythm of the seasons: large body of salt water in winter, mudflats in spring and autumn, cracked ground and salt-white desert in summer. The vegetation, low and sheepish, is brown in winter, green in spring and red in autumn. Only a few specialized plant species develop there, because of the strong presence of salt: salicornia, soda, obione, saladella .
From the Tourism Office, on the Van Gogh avenue, go through the village towards the Cacharel road (D85A) for 4 km.
1- Before the Mas de Cacharel, take the dirt road on the right for 11 km.
2- At the Domaine de Méjannes, take the trail in the opposite direction and return to the starting point.
Be careful, days of strong mistral wind may disrupt your trajectory.
Envia transport network Bus line 20 > Arles/Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer through Albaron (free bicycle rack)...
Access and parking
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, at 37 km southwest of Arles through the D570 road. Starting point at the Tourism office.
An alternative to starting from the Domaine de Méjanes (Albaron) at 15 km from Arles through the D570 and the D37 roads (follow the sign Salin-de-Giraud for 2 km, then turn right to the domaine de Méjanes).
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