The Camargue was definitely on our list of spots to visit and once we’d had a few days to acclimatise to the scorching heat we decided to take a bit of a drive.
First stop, with free parking in a kind of lay by outside (no shade mind) was the Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau, where we knew we could see some ‘mingoes.
It cost us 19€ and as we arrived just before lunchtime without really having planned well – lack of hats/adequate suncream coverage/picnic etc we could have been a bit more organised.
I did consult the website on the way over in a kind of lackadaisical fashion, but we proceeded in to see what we could see.
Almost the first thing we found was the buvette where we decided some refreshment was necessary. We declined their expensive sandwiches and decided we’d proceed down the coast and get some lunch by the sea.
We had 2 maps of the park which outlined the numbered points along the walking trail. If you walked the whole lot you would need a full day and to be able to tolerate the heat better than we could. The monkeys fought over who was team leader s they had a map each.
This was our first surprise:
These, however, we expected, but were fascinating nonetheless.
Even the insects were out in force:
We stepped into a hide for a closer look at the ‘mingoes and although it was not as cool as we hoped inside it was worth lingering a bit.
The temperature and hunger got the better of us, so we jumped back in the van, after a bit of ventilation and turning up the air con, and headed to the coast and the seaside town of Saintes Maries de la Mer.
We ignored the expensive camping car aire on the way in to town and had a bit of a drive around, along the front and back in again and chanced on a car park with a height barrier that had a separate *free* area for campervans/motorhomes outside it, which we took advantage of forthwith.
We ended up in a Crêperie on the sea front for lunch called La Pequelette and tried a couple of local beers made from Camargue rice.
Here, we realised not just that the poor exchange rate (currently 1.06) but also the cost of living in France was not what it used to be.
Could not even be tempted by a jambon oeuf fromage, due to the heat so we ordered Camarguaise and Fruits de Mer salads. 16 euros for a salad was a most distressing realisation.
We sat under a shaded outdoor area, and could feel a bit of sea breeze, but were still restless and hot, so moved on.
We took a meander around town and could have spent a fortune in knicky-knacky shops. As it was, Madame got a purse and the squirt got summat which has already been forgotten about.
There was, surprisingly, a bullring by the beach and some sort of horse based theatre scenario, but we were so hot we decided to try and drop our toes in the sea for a cooler.
The beaches were small corrals divided by burly sea defences, with dark grey sand and everyone and their dog in attendance, so it really was a quick paddle followed by extended use of the beachside showering equipment to rid us of said dark sand.
We returned to the vehicle and meandered back, trying to catch a glimpse and get a photo of a few wild horses, which we eventually did from a conveniently placed lay by and whilst I was trying to capture a decent shot,
KB went scrumping for figs and got a decent handful, which we enjoyed with some Roquefort for tea back at camp.
There was a lot of the Camargue that we didn’t see and it definitely warrants further explanation.
On another foray towards Aigues Mortes we stopped at a roadside shop/bar which we discovered was part of the France Passion stopover network, and was the best (only) place we found selling local produce for marginally less than an arm and a leg.
There seemed to be loads of stables, but the idea of being out in full sun on horseback just didn’t appeal.
Next excursion – to the Roman splendour of Pont du Gard