The Camargue is a treasure trove of bird and animal species, both wild and domestic. Its most famous denizens are its bulls and the white horses, both of which roam in semi-liberty. Born dark brown or black, the Camargue horse turns white in around its fourth year.
An estimated 2500 of the region’s gardians or herdsmen – ten percent of them women – remain active. A hardy bunch, they play a major role in preserving Camarguais traditions. Their traditional homes, or cabanes, are thatched, windowless one-storey structures, with bulls’ horns over the door to ward off evil spirits. Throughout the summer, the gardians are kept busy, with spectacles involving bulls and horses in every village arena; winter is a good deal harder.
Camargue wildlife ranges from wild boars, beavers and badgers, tree frogs, water snakes and pond turtles, to marsh and seabirds and birds of prey. The best season for birdwatching lasts from April to June. Of the region’s fifty thousand or so flamingos, ten thousand remain in winter (Oct–March), when the rest migrate to Africa.