Roadtrips: Customised van trip to the heart of the Camargue
The very best way to discover the region is behind the wheel of a customised van starting from one of our rental agencies in Montpellier Nîmes or Marseille.
Despite the fact that the region is flat, the Camargue has lots of intriguiging features. There are lagoons, reed beds, rice fields, salt marshes, canals, prairies, dune and more than 150,000 hectares of natural parkland that provides a sanctuary for a vast number of animal and vegetable species. The most notable have become symbols of the region: wild horses, bulls and the iconic pink flamingoes.
The best times to visit are undoubtedly the spring and autumn. If you want to swim, then September is the month to plan a trip! This route will introduce you to all the best sites in the Camargue. Enjoy it in all its forms from behind the wheel of your customised van. Happy road trip!
Sounds good? Contact your agent who will give you plenty of tips on where to park for the night and what to do during the day throughout your island road trip.
Customised van trip to the heart of the Camargue
Our first day in the van takes us to some superb cultural and natural sites: a change of scenery guaranteed!
A pretty little medieval town, almost intact, still surrounded by its powerful ramparts and towers. From the top, you will see the salt, with the strange vision of the salt marshes which turn pink on the other side of the ramparts, and the large immaculate white dunes.
Don’t miss the Tour de Constance, the town’s emblem, which served as a prison for Protestants after the revocation of the Edi de Nantes. Discover a warm atmosphere by strolling through the narrow streets and taste the specialities: wine, fleur de sel, fougasse… there is something for everyone! For those with a sweet tooth: try the orange blossom fougasse at the Olmeda pastry shop (32 rue Emile Jamais).
The Salins du Midi
You can only visit the salt marshes by train (25€) or by bike (11kms of track): 30€ with loan (25€ with your own bike). It’s a lovely ride in a mythical landscape, with a little Bolivian air: salt dunes and an incredible view of Aigues-Mortes… The bike ride will be quieter, more at your own pace and offers more freedom.
Tip: go early in the morning or late in the afternoon because it is very hot. Don’t go without a bottle of water!
It’s a real rainbow of colours: blue-green ponds, pink salt flats due to Dunaliella Salina, an algae that proliferates when the water becomes too salty, and white dunes.
Bac du Sauvage
From Aigues-Mortes to Saintes Maries de la mer, if you have time, take the Bac du Sauvage on the D85. It is picturesque! The crossing is free and there are rotations every 30 minutes. 8 cars can be taken on board each time. There can be a bit of a wait. It is not uncommon for horses to accompany you on the crossing, especially in the summer months.
The Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau
This 60-hectare park is the ideal place to observe and photograph many species of birds in their natural environment. The walks are done on foot, two loops are proposed of 4km (1h30 approximately) and 7km. Tip – Arrive at 6.45pm, just before the ticket office closes (€7.50) so you can enter the park and stay indefinitely. You can leave whenever you like. Moreover, the park is then almost for you alone and this is the time when the pink flamingos are fed. A beautiful sight to behold…. Alternatively, if you don’t want to pay the park entrance fee and are equipped with waterproof shoes, you can also go and watch the birds at the imperial pond.
For the night, there are several options:
A stop at the edge of the Vaccarès or Monro ponds: superb views
a spot at the end of the world at Beauduc beach: one of the last wild beaches in France and one of the biggest…and windiest. This makes Beauduc a very popular spot for kitesurfing. To get there, you have to be patient and motivated: after following a tarmac road for several kilometres, you take a 10 km long track in poor condition. Once you arrive, you feel very small in front of the immensity of the dunes and the beach.
Last possibility: the manade des Baumelles, which welcomes you free of charge via our offer FRANCE PASSION
Les Saintes Maries de la mer
Despite the many Chinese souvenir shops, it is worth stopping in the capital of the Camargue.
For a fee you can access the large terrace of this fortified church. From the top, there are breathtaking views of the village and the Mediterranean! Note that every 24 May, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer becomes the centre of European gypsy culture.
What I liked best: the port of Saintes Maries and its Crin Blanc beach. I advise you to walk along the avenue Riquette Aubanel to discover the small Camargue houses.
Take advantage of this stay to go for a horse ride. It is a must for a weekend in the Camargue!
Horse riding, we will retain :
the Cabanes de Cacharel, a little out of the way in an exceptional setting. It is on the road to Cacharel that you will see the bulls. Count 22€ for a 1 hour ride.
The Écuries de la Roulotte. This is a small stable that takes care of the well-being of its animals. Make sure you bring covering clothes and mosquito repellent.
To finish this second day in beauty, go and see a beautiful sunset on the Etang de Vaccarès. Unforgettable! Can we say that the sunsets in the Camargue are the most beautiful in the south of France?
A few words about Vaccarés, the largest natural area in the whole of the Camargue, it stretches over more than 12km and is best discovered by bike.
To sleep 2 options :
a stop at the edge of the Vaccarès or Monro ponds: superb views
a spot at the end of the world at Beauduc beach: one of the last wild beaches in France and one of the biggest…and windiest. This makes Beauduc a very popular spot for kitesurfing.
To get there, you have to be patient and motivated: after following a tarmac road for several kilometres, you take a 10 km long track in poor condition. Once you arrive, you feel very small in front of the immensity of the dunes and the beach.
To end your weekend in the Camargue, you will return to a little more civilization and join the Gateway to the Camargue, or the exit…
Arles, The Gateway to the Camargue
A very pretty, quiet little town, and busier in the summer. Don’t miss the photography festival in July each year.
It is a very attractive town on a human scale. It is full of majestic monuments at every corner, narrow streets and little squares… almost like Provence!
Like Nîmes, Arles has a beautiful Roman heritage: the arena, the ancient theatre, the underground cryptoportic galleries, the terms of Constantine, the Alyscamps necropolis…
Take a break on the Forum square or have a drink at the bar of the Nord-Pinus Hotel, which will immerse you in the atmosphere of the region.
In Arles, there are many terraces where it is good to have a drink, and restaurants that are attractive both in terms of their menus and their prices. You’ll feel good here…. so take a break for lunch.
Go back through the villages of the Petite Camargue: Saint Laurent d’Aigouzes, le Cailar, Saint-Gilles, Vauvert… or take a break on the beach of l’Espiguette at Grau du Roi!
Some more information:
To do even more during your weekend in the Camargue, on foot, by bike or by vehicle, check out the 14 discovery routes proposed by the park to observe the full diversity of the Camargue’s landscapes. They can all be downloaded from the park’s website. The best known are
the Digue à la mer walk, starting from the Gacholle lighthouse (20 km of footpaths and cycle paths)
The Albaron marsh at Saliers
The path of the bulls and the vine
For lovers of wild beaches:
l’Espiguette at Grau du Roi
The beach of Piémanson at Salin de Giraud
Taste a gardiane de taureau
A traditional Camargue dish, this is a stew of bull meat cooked in strong red wine with vegetables, spices and a few citrus fruits.
Other places we like and recommend:
the Salins-de-Giraud and the Bac de Barcarin which links the two banks of the Grand-Rhône, the dunes of the road from Espiguette to Grau-du-Roi and the Etang du Fangassier.