Spreading across the Rhône delta, and defined by the Petit Rhône to the west, the Grand Rhône to the east, and the Mediterranean to the south, the drained, ditched and protected land known as the Camargue is utterly distinct from the rest of Provence. With land, lagoon and sea sharing the same horizontal plain, its shimmering horizons appear infinite.

The whole of the Camargue is a Parc Naturel Régional, which sets out to balance tourism, agriculture, industry and hunting against the indigenous ecosystems. When the Romans arrived, the northern part of the Camargue was a forest; they felled the trees to build ships, then grew wheat. These days, especially since the northern marshes were drained and re-irrigated after World War II, the main crop is rice.

The Camargue is split into two separate sections by the large Étang du Vaccarès, a lagoon that’s out of bounds to visitors. Most people focus their attention on the western Camargue, home to the sizeable town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and also commercial attractions such as wildlife parks and activity operators. It is possible, however, to take a quick look at both the western and eastern halves of the Camargue within a single day.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

France remains one of the most visited countries in the world – and it's easy to see why. From the bucolic charm of Provence to the metropolitan allure of Par…

14 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors help Quiz
7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, afforda…

14 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook