The spanish influence in Provence
The Spanish influence in Provence (The Camargue and Arles)
Having left Barcelona behind a week ago, it was a great surprise to find that the places we visited today had a very Spanish flavour to them. On our way to the Camargue, our first stop was Les St Marie de la Mar. A bright, sunny sea side town with a distinctly Spanish feel due to the street signs warning of danger due to bulls and horses running in the street, the architecture being distinctly Spanish- white washed houses with red terracotta tiles, as well as some thatch roofs. The central fountain indicates that this is cow boy country; cattle and horses are breed here.
The Camargue region is flat salty plains and one thing it is known for is the pink flamingos that migrate here for the summer. Our visit to the Parc Ornithologique Pont de Gau was well worth it! Seeing flocks of pink flamingos was quite unique. You can watch them for hours and many serious bird watchers were here with their telephoto lenses at the ready.
The rest of the day was spent in Arles. It lies on the Rhone, is small and easy to walk around and has many impressive Roman ruins to admire. As we drove from Camargue to Arles and passed beautiful fields of sun flowers, we were reminded of the landscape so famous in Van Gogh’s paintings. On arrival to Arles we were lucky enough to find it in festival mode: Feria du Riz, an annual rice harvest festival. This is where the Spanish influence reappears. The festival celebrates the rice harvest with street stalls, music, floats, people dressed in Spanish costumes, bullfights and cow boy and cow girls events. Yes, we did go to a real bull fight, but that’s another story. (which the other M will tell!)