Marseille (Provence), France
Information Not Currently Available
Approximately 7 Hours
Meals not included
Grab your binoculars and explore the wild and wonderful region of the Camargue, one-third of which consists of wildlife-rich lakes and marshland. Located south of Arles, between the Mediterranean and the Rhône River delta, the largest river delta in Western Europe, it is home to numerous bird species, bulls, wild horses and exceptional saltwater flora.
This full-day adventure includes a guided tour of a wild-bird sanctuary, a walking tour and free time for lunch and shopping in the charming former fishing town of Saintes Maries de la Mer.
Your day will begin with a scenic motorcoach ride through the countryside. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous white horse breed specific to this region -- the Camarguais. These horses are the traditional steed of the guardians -- the local cowboys who herd the black Camargue bulls raised for "courses camarguaises" (bull run races).
You will stop at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau -- a nature reserve that is home to thousands of birds, including the striking and graceful flamingo -- the iconic bird of the Camargue. Once on the verge of extinction, it now thrives in this region, which is one of only a few European habitats available for this bird. The park hosts a nesting ground built on a small island that was built specifically to support flamingo breeding and has helped to rebuild the local population. Other wading birds found at the park include herons, egrets and storks.
Your guide will tell you about the park, which covers 150 acres of saltwater marsh, and the various species of birds, insects and plants that live here. You will also hear how injured birds are treated and released. A series of boardwalks (including a short, child-friendly inner loop) extend over the wetlands.
From here, it is a short and beautiful drive to the charming capital of the Camargue, Saintes Maries de la Mer. Along the way, you may catch a glimpse of herds of bulls and horses. The town's name means Marys of the Sea and refers to a local legend in which three biblical saints arrived here from across the Mediterranean: Marie Jacobée, Jesus' aunt; Marie Salomée, mother of Saint Jacques Major; and Sarah, uncanonized patron saint of Gypsies.
In town, your guide will take you on a brief walking tour of this former fishing village, now a popular seaside resort town, which is also a yearly pilgrimage destination for the Roma (Gypsy) people.
You'll have some free time to explore independently, browse in the shops and purchase lunch (at your own expense) at a local café or restaurant.
Return to your motorcoach for the relaxing drive back to the port in Marseille.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. Shopping is limited outside of the summer season.