Loop between the two arms of the Rhone
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
The Horses of the Camargue
The glasswort and the saladella
The old stations
The Camargue Biosphere Reserve
The Avignon Castle
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 .
The European bee-eater
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 - Cross the small bridge, then head to the left towards the stadium path. Continue and turn left at the turn that allows to cross the other side, do not take the path where there are rocks. Continue straight on and take the path on the right, parallel to the D570.. Continue straight for about 1.5 km.
2 - At the junction with the D570, cross it and continue straight towards Bas des Launes road. Continue for 1 km. After the small bridge, take the path on the left. Continue for about 800 m.
3 - In the bend, turn right onto the dirt road. Continue this path for more than 1 km to reach Petite route du Bac (D85). Turn right at this intersection. Before the intersection with the D570, join the small path on the left. Continue for 350 m. At the next intersection, continue on the left path for 650 m.
4 - Turn left then 150 m after, continue on the first road on the right and continue for more than 1 km. When the path splits in two, follow the path on the right and leave the farmhouse on the left.
5 - At the intersection with the D38A, turn left and take the path on the right. Continue for 1.5 km. At the intersection of the two paths, turn to the right. At the intersection with the D38B, cross this road and continue on the road. Bypass the Gilbert Arnaud manade on the left.
6 - At the intersection with the road to Bergerie du Roure, turn right and follow the first path on the left. Bypass all buildings and technical constructions by the left. Once you reached the Petit-Rhône dike, take a right and continue along the Petit-Rhône. Leave to the right the Château d'Avignon, les Grandes Cabanes du Vaccarès, le Mas de Ventabren et le Mas d'Alivon.
7 - At the pumping station and overpass, turn right onto the D570, cross it and continue towards Paty de la Trinité. Continue to Mas de Bouvet.
8 - Take the left to follow the path of the Méjanes until the directional sign indicating "Méjanes" and "Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer", follow the direction of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Then continue on for 11 km.
9 - At the intersection with the D85A, turn left towards Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and follow the road on the road side to reach point 1.
D750, very busy and dangerous road!
Open the gates at the entrance or exit of the paths, think of closing them well.
Crossing the road of the Bergerie du Roure, caution!
Cycling is prohibited on the Rhone and Petit-Rhône dikes..
Caution on the D85A at the exit of the Cinq Gorges towards Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
The itinerary being done in 2 days, think to reserve an accommodation according to the distance to be crossed the first day. Contact the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer Tourist Office.
Park your car in a secure location. Be careful, in rainy weather, roads are flooded and impracticable !
OT Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer - Tourisme en Camargue
5 Avenue Van Gogh, 13460 Saintes Maries de la Mer
04 90 97 82 55
the Camargue museum
Mas du pont de rousty, 13200 Arles
+33 (0)4 90 97 10 40
Remember to visit the Camargue museum! It is located next to the administrative centre of the Camargue Nature Park.
Access and parking
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