Located in southwest Provence, the Camargue is one of France’s wildest and most scenic landscapes. Protected as a regional natural park, the expanse of wetlands, beaches, salt pans, and rice paddies is known for its herds of white Camargue horses and Camargue bulls, all tended to by local gardians (cowboys).
Most visitors choose to explore the Camargue on a day trip from towns like Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or on a shore excursion from the Mediterranean port of Marseille. A Camargue tour typically takes in regional highlights such as the Camargue capital of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the medieval port town of Aigues Mortes, the seaside resort of Le Grau-du-Roi, and the Provencal village of Arles, known for its connections with Van Gogh. The UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and visitors can also enjoy a cruise along the Petit Rhône river, a canoeing excursion around the marshes, or an off-road jeep tour along the coast.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring mosquito repellent—the Camargue wetlands are known for their mosquitoes, especially during in summer and fall.
- Tourist information offices in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Aigues-Mortes provide detailed maps of the Parc Naturel de Camargue.
- Much of the Camargue is only accessible by 4WD vehicle or on horseback.
How to Get There
The Camargue is located along France’s Mediterranean coast between Montpellier and Marseille. Public transport to the Camargue is limited, and most visitors opt to explore the region either by private vehicle or as part of a guided tour. It’s about a one-hour drive from Avignon to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and the closest international airport is in Nîmes.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit the Camargue is between March and October, the season of the jeu taurin (non-violent bullfighting), when many area villages host traditional festivals and races. During peak summer season (July and August), temperatures can reach over 86°F (30°C) and mosquitoes can be a pain, so plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s cooler.
Wildlife Watching in the Camargue
In addition to the famous white horses and black bulls, the Camargue is home to some of France’s most diverse bird life, with more than 400 different species. At Pont de Gau Ornithological Park, a top destination for bird watching, you might also spot egrets, ibises, kingfishers, goldcrests, and birds of prey, as well as ducks, swans, and some of the region’s 10,000-plus flamingos.