The Occitanie Region and the Camargue
Aigues-Mortes is the town that is the gateway to the Occitanie region of the Camargue. The walled city’s history of Kings and crusades is as impressive as its past.” From its earliest days, Aigues-Mortes was significant for its salt fields and location bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
However, last year’s visit to Aigues-Mortes made a lasting impression on the Barefoot Blogger. It was the site of my unfortunate accident on Day 8 of the 2018 Memories Tour. Going back to the exact location a year later was bittersweet. My fall on the street led to a year of pain and recovery. When I retraced the steps, the thought of it brought me to tears. On a positive note, walking past the spot was a victory. I shared the moment with new friends from this year’s tour. They flanked me on all sides. Nevertheless, I carried a walking stick … just in case!
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Gypsies and Legends
To best visit the Camargue region, there’s nothing quite like a tour by Jeep. In Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, local guides met us to drive through the backroads they know so well. Most of the guides are lifelong residents of the Camargue. But first, a visit to the church of Sarah the Egyptian, revered by Gypsies. Read more here …
Carmargue by Jeep
The white horses, bulls, and flamingos were high on our list of places and things to see on our Camargue safari. The Parc naturel régional de Camargue is between the Mediterranean and the Rhone river delta. One-third of the Camargue is marshland, lagoons, and lakes. The rest is cultivated fields brimming with rice, grapes, and grain at different times of the year. The ecology of the area is unlike any other place in the world. White Camarguais horses roam on open fields with Camargue bulls, eating natural feed and grasses. Read more here
The people of the Camargue are proud of their region, history, and country. Our driver, Cedric, invited us to a sing-a-long while cruising through the land of horses, bulls, wine, rice, and salt.
Finding horses and bulls was not such a challenge. Flamengos, on the other hand, were scarce.
The feathered creatures that grace the marshlands to eat tiny rose-colored shrimp that give the birds their pink hue must have been at the next stop on their flight plan. I must come back. Winter is a very privileged moment since it is at this time that flamingos are the most colorful, and they perform their spectacular “courtship displays.”
It’s a sight I hope someday to see.
Sampling the Occitanie Region Foods and Flavors: Camarguaise-style
A quick guide to the foods of the Camargue is the land itself. As you ride through the flatlands, you see rice, vineyards, bulls, and, in some areas, salt hills and lagoons. The area has not always been as productive as it is today. Conservation and cooperation between the people, the government, and industry have led to an environment where all benefit.
Hills and fields of salt
I’d been looking forward to seeing the salt fields since I learned that the Camargue is the birthplace of fleur de sel. It was hard for me to believe the precious flakes of salt “bloom.” Then they’re harvested.
Walking to the top of one of the hills of salt at La Baleine, I had to stop to brush my fingers on the path and taste the salt before I believed it was true. Sometimes, the truth seems more unreal than fiction.
What could match a day like this?