The Camargue and the Arles outdoors
observing scenic beauty, close to nature
Half-Day Hike Full Day Hikes
Western Europe’s largest delta, the Camargue is a unique land in Provence. Low, flat, with numerous salt, grass-filled wetlands, marshes and small canals, this singular territory lies astride Languedoc and Provence. The place offers very different landscapes from the ones that can be seen elsewhere in the Provençal region.
Spreading by the sea, this beautiful land is a real paradise for bird watchers : the area is a stopover for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds.
The best ways to explore the Camargue are on horseback, on a bike ride or on foot, of course.
The Camargue from Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer
Hiking in the Camargue, France’s largest wetland delta, will allow you to marvel at enchanting natural landscapes. It is a protected territory : the Camargue Regional Nature Park. You start from Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a little town located between the Mediterranean and large lagoons, at the heart of this unique land. During this hike, you walk with your local guide on the dyke called La Digue à la Mer. Wildlife here is of exceptional variety. And if you are interested in birdwatching, you will feel fulfilled: 400 species live here ; the most famous one is the pink flamingo. The bird population changes according to the season thanks to the migratory birds coming in winter from Siberia, Northwest Russia and Finland. On your way, a wide detour through the salt marshes, known by the Provençal name of sansouire, along the Étang de l’Impérial, offers a palette of various colours with the passing seasons. If lucky, you may glimpse a herd of wild white horses cantering in water.
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : easy
Season calendar : year-round
Along the Digue à la Mer
This hike allows you to enjoy views of landscapes that look like nowhere else in France. In this remote and wild region, you discover a lesser known side of Provence. While following the sea dyke, known as Digue à la Mer, you can watch pink flamingoes fishing in shimmering lagoons. Bring a pair of binoculars for a closer look. You can also see the unique flora of salt marshes. According to the season, those flats look different : muddy in the spring and fall, flooded in winter, they will be arid in summer. If interested, you will learn from your guide about this unique ecosystem. But whatever your focus, you won’t miss the magic of a country with preserved natural areas.
Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : leisurely
Season calendar : year-round
Within 30 minutes from Arles, you can drive to the chain of small mountains called Les Alpilles. Although not very lofty, the summit is 498m (1,633ft) high, its jagged crests offer beautiful hikes, and even an adventure one, cut up in the rock wall more than 100m above pinegroves. You have also the opportunity to visit the spectacular site of the village of Les Baux de Provence and to sip a pastis or a wine glass on the terrace of a café in St.Rémy.