Camargue, France

The purpose of this short trip, June 2017, was the discovery of the French Camargue, an area that I have been wanting to visit since many years, and home of the pink flamingo, the Camargue horses and the black bulls.

All over the Camargue you will find their official emblem, shown on the right. Top to bottom it consists of a cross formed by three-pronged forks, used by the local cattle drivers, and a heart sitting on top of a sea anchor. The Camargue cross represents the three cardinal virtues, the cross for faith, the anchor for hope and the heart for love (Ref.).

Following is a short description of the route taken, landscape, wildlife and people.


The Camargue is shaped as a triangle, with about 30 km (20 mile) sides, meaning that not too much time is lost in driving when doing a tour.

My trip started in the South-Western tourist town, Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer. The tiny town is extremely nice, is located at the Mediterranean coast, but is 100% tourist oriented, and even though the truth July and August tourist season had not yet started, the large majority of people in the streets were International visitors. As a matter of photography the town offers a beautiful little church, and the views over the Mediterranean are breath taking.

At Sunset the light was too diffuse, but it still resulted in acceptable photographs  of the sun going down over the swamp, West of town.

Ornithological Park, Pont de Gau

The park offers a wide variety of birds, including the Camargue typical pink flamingo, which can be seen spread over several swamps. The park is well maintained with clean walk ways around all swamps, and all birds are being fed. This kind of made me miss the feeling of being in real nature. The birds have no fear for humans, and they can come pretty close.

Not knowing what to expect from the park, and not having been able to talk to local photographers, I had most of my equipment in my heavy backpack, including macro, ring flash, etc. This was a wasted effort, and I shot all of the images using a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II and Sigma 500mm F4 DG HSM OS Sports, both with and without 1.4x teleconverter, mounted to a cropped sensor Nikon D7200.

Next are some of the images taken at the park.

The commonly found Gray heron

The very charming Little Egret

Star of the show, the Pink Flamingo

And other varieties ...

Étang de Vaccarès, la Capelière

Next stop, the Étang de Vaccarès, a salt water lagoon. As by the time that I made it there it was almost mid-day, with temperatures in the upper 30 degree C, 100 degrees F, it was not the best time to spot birds. The best locations were small field roads, sometimes running for kilometers, but my time was too short, and I had to leave, having only a collection of panorama images. For a panorama, the region is however not ideal. The whole area is very flat, resulting in images returning a pancake type of land, water lagoon. Underneath, one example made with a focal length of 14 mm. Up to the next stop, which turned out to be my very favorite, the Domaine de la Palissade.

What is interesting when driving North wards is the change in field cultivation. Towards the North, the river Rhone, enclosing the Camargue, gains in influence, diluting the salt, and the area is characterized by a very intensive rice culture. All over you also see the typical Camargue white horses and their black steers. I can only highly recommend visitors to taste the local "Gardiane de taureau", which is meat from the back of a steer, cooked long and slow in red wine.

Domaine de la Palissade

This turned out to be my favorite point of the tour. A small road leading to the Domaine de la Palissade, aside the impressive Rhone river delta, surrounded by lagoons filled with a variety of birds, and continuing as a sand road to the most Southern point of this zone, at the Mediterrean sea, with beautiful and large sandy beaches. The road passes through the main salt harvesting area, which comprises 1000s of acres.

The reception at the Regional park was exceptional,  awesome, and I had all of the personnel around me to give me tips about the where and how, inclusive some for tourists hidden areas.

I was told about an observation station, used by the ornithologists, and that is where I decided to take post. All of the following images, a small fraction of what I shot,  where taken at this particular location. Please enjoy ...

Panorama made in the area of the nature reserve. The image covers a 200 degree angle

Salt extraction

Black-winged Stilt, Gray heron, Great White Egret and Herring gull with her chicks

Moorhen and a Swan with her chicks

Little Egret

Purple heron & Squacco heron (rare)

As a finish to the tour, a Blue Mallow flower and a beautiful butterfly, the Araschnia Levana

I want to thank you for visiting and I hope that you did enjoy the beautiful images taken in the Camargue. Let me finish with a sentence in the local dialect, "Longo maï", till next time, the best of luck, and may your luck last long.

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