The Camargue, Western Europe's largest river delta, covers an area of over 900 sq kms - a wild landscape of red salt lagoons teeming with flamingos, reedy marches and rice paddies, herds of wild white Camargue Horses and farms where Europe's only cowboys - the Gardiens - raise fighting black bulls for the bullrings of Languedoc and Spain.
For visitors it's a strange playground that you can traverse on horseback, quad bike, horse-drawn carriage, hovercraft and helicopter. Or avoid the marshlands altogether, and head for the region's mega-beach Espiguette, one of France's largest and an enormous expanse of sand that stretches from the Grau du Roi all the way into Provence.
However you decide to experience it - The Camargue will probably be one of the most memorable experiences you have during your visit to the Languedoc - thanks to its other-worldly landscapes and the wild white horses.
Separated from the rest of France by 140,000 hectares of wetlands, pastures, dunes and salt flats, the Camargue is peopled by French cowboys and cowgirls who could have come straight from the wild west. They wear cowboy boots, moleskin jeans, spurs, and wide-brimmed, flat-topped hats.
This is Western Europe’s largest river delta, featuring endless brine lagoons - or ‘etangs’ in French. It is protected from the sea by long sand dunes and reed-covered marshes, which are home to more than 400 species of birds - including the ‘Greater Flamingo’. Most of the Camargue is designated as a national park (Parc Régional de Camargue). Some of the area is now dedicated to agriculture - to grapes, cereals and the famous Camargue rice. Black bulls are also reared here, for export to Spain.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is at the southern edge of the Camargue. On a thin peninsula jutting into the Petit-Rhone delta region, the town is almost completely surrounded by water, and numerous beaches and dunes are close to hand, as well as the possibilities of exploring the Camargue region - indeed it is almost the only sizable town in the Camargue.