©Y.Le Magadure

Our 8 favourite sensory walks in the Camargue Regional Nature Reserve

Discover our selection of secret walks and horse rides between sea and marshes, on the shores of the Med in the heart of Camargue!

Admire remarkable wildlife on the “Sentier du They du Mazet”

The Sentier du They du Mazet trail near Plage Napoléon unveils magnificent, wild coastal scenery at the mouth of the Rhône River. The name “They du Mazet” refers to a sandy formation modelled by the sea and river. This 2 ½-hour walk starts out from a sandy path and forms a 4.7-km loop. Pink flamingos and grey herons are your companions in this beautiful natural haven, providing food, shelter and ideal nesting conditions for numerous bird species. During your walk, don’t miss a stop-off at Canal Saint-Antoine, locally known as the “new canal”, home to mussel farmers, fishermen and seafood processing firms. The sandy beds of the Mazet coast also provide food and shelter for many shellfish such as the Donax clam, razor clam or murex (locally nicknamed the “biou”). And in late spring-early summer, this is the reproduction site of the redshank, easy to recognize thanks to its long beak with a red base. This bird likes its peace and quiet, so please keep your distance and keep the volume down!

Cycling on the Via Rhôna

It’s time to head to the picturesque village of Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône and Via Rhôna for a 3½-hour bicycle ride spanning 51.59 km. The excursion begins at Pont Van Gogh in Arles and continues to the Rhône Delta, along the Canal d’Arles in Bouc. Dotted with rice fields, saltmarshes, heritage sites and natural gems, this route takes you to Plage de Napoléon for a well-earned dip in fine weather. Before that, pause awhile at Marais du Vigueirat and visit the hamlet of Mas Thibert for a tasty lunch. Take time to visit the 18th-century Tour Saint-Louis, boasting an exceptional ornithological collection – a must for nature lovers! You can also reach the trail by bus (fitted with a bicycle rack) from Miramas railway station.

The fascinating story of the Salin-de-Giraud saltmarsh

A young town that emerged during the first industrial era, Salin-de-Giraud has many secrets to unveil. Discover them with this wonderful 2-hour bicycle ride through 4 km of scenic treasures. The route is dotted with information panels and intriguing sights. The story of the village began with two factories and their associated housing estates designed to resemble the workers’ estates of northern France… But you’ll learn more during your tour! Enjoy visiting the saltmarshes (also called “camelles”) still is use today: Camargue’s very flat clay soil, dotted with marshland, is particularly ideal for sea salt extraction.

A breath of fresh air at “Les Marais du Vigueirat”

Set at the crossroads to Camargue and the plain of La Crau, the Marais du Vigueirat marshes are home to remarkable flora and fauna. The site is also a WWF (World Wildlife Fund) partner. Follow in the footsteps of your nature guide… The trail features four hides and two towers, perfect for admiring the mosaic of natural wetlands characteristic of the Rhône Delta. An impressive 86 bird species, 641 plant species and 5 bull and horse ranches, unique to Camargue, rub shoulders in this verdant wildlife hub adorned with glasswort, waterlilies, grey herons, wild boars, storks and purple herons. You can opt for a tour of the marshes in a horse-drawn cart too if you fancy! Families will definitely want to visit the “Sentier des Cabanes” built on stilts, featuring 8 interactive huts. Breathe in the pure air of the surrounding meadows, woods, wetlands and vast lakes. This is also home to the Camargue’s largest protected reed bed.

Make friends with a Camargue horse at “La Maison du Cheval”

La Maison du Cheval is set inside the ancient Château d’Avignon farm, spanning 709 acres on the banks of the Petit Rhône river at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – a charming village featuring remarkable monuments including Eglise des Saintes-Maries and Eglise Notre Dame de la Mar churches, and Phare de La Gacholle lighthouse. Enjoy a guided tour on foot to learn more about the village’s history, farming legacy, environmental commitments and bull herding traditions. You can even opt for an exceptional, 1.2-km tour of Domaine du Mas de la Cure (a holder of the “Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional” label) to meet with a local “gardian” – a typical Camargue cowboy who’ll be delighted to show off his riding skills! You’ll love seeing the ancient, world-unique harness used for the Camargue horse too – this rustic white horse still plays a major role in Camargue traditions.

Awaken your senses at Domaine de la Palissade

Set between Salin-de-Giraud and the coast, Domaine de la Palissade is part of the Coastal Conservancy. This innovative, 1,735-acre estate is energy self-sufficient thanks to its solar power station installed in 1987 and features dykes used to protect lower Camargue from sea or river flooding. Located on the right bank of the Rhône River, it is also of major ecological interest. In days gone by, it was used exclusively for farming, fishing and hunting; today, its marshes and lagoons connected to the sea offer a particularly remarkable habitat for the many fish and bird species that live there. Visitors now enjoy 3 guided discovery trails for walkers and kayaking fans, plus a delightful naturalist exhibition. With its fabulous biodiversity and palette of landscapes worthy of a painter’s masterpiece, this sites is a real must-see. The “Sentier du Clos d’Argent” trail is also accessible to reduced-mobility visitors.

Learn more at the Musée de la Camargue

Poised at the gateway to the Camargue Regional Nature Reserve, the Musée de la Camargue, managed by the reserve, is set inside the ancient “Mas du Pont de Rousty” sheep barn. It offers a fascinating insight into Camargue’s unique relationship between man and nature, plunging visitors into the Camargue of today and yesteryear with a permanent exhibition entitled “The course of water, the course of time”. Featuring historic items, fun interactive installations, sounds, videos and contemporary works of art, it invites visitors of all ages on a mesmerizing journey into past, present and future. Venture out on the nature trail running alongside the canal and rice fields to the saltmarsh, via the herdsmen’s hut and magnificent reed bed. Lasting 1½ hours, this 3.5 km trail promises to reconnect you with nature’s bounty. Admire Tadashi Kawamata’s work Horizons as you gaze out over the scenery and meditate on the vital role of water in the Rhône Delta…

Visit the “Maison du Riz de Camargue”

Mas de la Vigne lies amid a 1,235-acre rice farm in Albaron belonging to the Rozières family, Camargue rice growers for the last 5 generations. Jacques, the son and grandson of a rice grower himself, founded the “Maison du Riz” rice museum as a showcase for his passion and family legacy. During the 1½-hour tour, you’ll explore the trail running along the rice fields, visit the exhibition and enjoy a rice whitening demonstration. Rice is grown here using eco-friendly methods that respect the soil. The farm also offers a range of speciality products including black and perfumed rice. During the October rice harvest, a harvester trundles through the muddy fields, cutting and beating the ears of rice to separate the straw from the grains, so if you’re visiting in autumn, you’ll definitely want to hop along to enjoy the show!

Natural spaces differently