Bright blue sky, olive trees, the colours of sand, earth and water … we must be in La Provence. And the particular part of Provence we will visit, is the Camargue: the delta of the Rhône river. Though much has changed in this area over recorded history, it’s still a place of wild and natural beauty. The flat marshes are punctuated by black bulls, white horses and pink flamingoes, and it’s a haven for a multitude of other birds and wildlife.
A traditional home of the gypsies (now called the Roma people), the Camargue is also a place of strange and wonderful stories. Chief among them, is that some years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a boat carrying les trois Maries (and perhaps Lazarus, too) landed at the site of the town now called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. These “three Marys” were Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James, and Mary Salomé: by tradition, the three women who visited the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. The beautiful small church we will visit is the historical site of this legend. For a peek at our lunch location in Ste.-Maries (and some evocative scenes of the Camargue) visit the website of À fleur de sel. The restaurant’s name refers to another significant product of the Camargue: salt, which for millenia has been harvested from large ponds between the river and the Mediterranean.
While in the Camargue (a day trip from Avignon) we’ll also visit the Musée de la Camargue and the Camargue nature area. We wouldn’t want to spend all our time in the city, would we?