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Les Bouches du Rhône (13)

​The Camargue: Freedom ponds

With its 85 000 ha appearing to hesitate between sea and land, the Camargue, it of course is the country of the herds, but also the Kingdom of birds. To discover, feel drive you on small paths, away from roads and tourists. Between arthurbiyo, marshes and lagoons, it provides a face much richer that we don't want to believe it.

Geographical situation

Hinge between the region Paca and Languedoc-Roussillon, Camargue zone is bounded to the North by Arles, in the South by the Mediterranean Sea, to the East by the Grand Rhone and its mouth and on the West by the Petit Rhone which flows into the sea at the Saintes. To the West of the arm of the Petit Rhône, is the Petite Camargue gardoise stretching between Gilles and AIGUES-MORTES.

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Landscapes

Homogeneous in appearance, Camargue is divided in three distinct zones in the North of the delta of the Rhône and along its dual trace, there is a growing area..To the West of the Petit Rhône and Salins-de-Giraud, are saline that extend on nearly 20,000 ha. These vast expanses where we harvest the salt take sandwiched the natural area, which occupies the South of the delta area stocked ponds and lagoons, lined by a dune that gallops on some 60 km of coastline.

Fauna and flora

The Camargue offers a beautiful space of freedom to the herds of horses and bulls that the traverse, but it is especially the country of birds. About 400 species have been counted about 160 migratory. In the marshes, they are purple herons, Bitterns, coots, the Harriers, pools of water and a large amount of varieties of ducks (Whistler, Gadwall, Mallard...). Brackish ponds near the sea are famous for their colonies of thousands of pink flamingos, but you can admire also the avocets, while the dunes shelter sandwich terns, oystercatchers and small plovers interrupted collared. Without forgetting the traditional inhabitants of the coast: Kittiwakes, gulls, cormorants, a multitude of passerines (alouettes. Wagtails warblers...) and a Raptor, the Marsh Harrier. Anyway, whatever the season, you need your binoculars and your telephoto lens if you do the picture. And from mid-May, the mosquito repellent cream is mandatory!
Flora varies depending on the humidity of the land and the amount of salt it contains. Along the banks of the arms of the Rhône, there are forests of White Poplar, willow and ash. Around the pond of Vaccarès phragmites, maritime bulrush, yellow iris, pondweeds are landscapes of marshes and reed beds with some rushes...The Camargue bass brings together arthurbiyo, land of salt. A very special flora is develops, including the Samphire and the lavender.

A thousand discoveries...

Behind the monotony similar landscapes, the Camargue has thousand and one treasures. The Clearinghouse of the Camargue regional park established in 1970, offers a temporary exhibition that gives you a taste before you go discover them on the ground. A Board for this know how to take his time one can of course across the region by car, but to appreciate all its natural resources, the best is yet to traverse it in horse - riding centres are many-, cycling, or finally and above all, walk.

The trail of Vaccarès

It runs along the pond of Vaccarès in the direction of the reserve of the Imperial and the mas de Cacharel. It is a beautiful walk that captures the diversity of the landscapes of Camargue (lagoons, lawns and arthurbiyo). Can observe many birds: flamingos, ducks, herons and passerines... Also, discover the trail that leaves from the Capelière mas.

The natural reserve of Camargue

Founded in 1927, it is the oldest natural reserve in France. Comprising almost all of the étang de Vaccarès, it covers 13 117 ha. It is the mas of the Capelière that is installed the nature Reserve information centre. To get there, take the D36 b from Villeneuve. An introduction to the nature trail has been built. With a length of 1.5 km loop, it includes two observatories, and then resume the road southward in the direction of Salin de Badon. Here again, several trails allow to observe the birds safely. This course is punctuated by milestones representing the different species of birds encountered (flamingos, coots, egrets) and three observatories. Go in the morning or late afternoon. Continue on the same road, then take to the sea dike and the Gacholle lighthouse. From this moment your car you will be more nothing: the dam is strictly reserved to pedestrians and cyclists! On nearly 20 km long, this dam, built in 1867, is without doubt one of the most beautiful course-nature of Camargue! Through a landscape of lagoons, reed beds and arthurbiyo it is a refuge for many species of birds of heron, Egret, Marsh Harrier, terns, greater Flamingo, duck.

The Alpilles

The taste of the authentic

The Alpilles are like the moulin de Daudet in Fontvieille: open to the four corners of the rose of the winds. Winds that have screwed up this massive to give relief to the surrounding Plains, which seem to have washed the sky to assign a blue color to none. Glanum in les Baux, history meets legends, on the roads of authentic Provence.

Location and access

Last limestone foothills before the sea the Alpilles totaled, a flight of Warbler of the Luberon. They have a look on the Camargue, another on la Crau and the etang de Berre and have also been eyeing on the side of the mounts of Vaucluse and Rhone Valley.
Arles to lounge by the RN 13, reassemble the D25 at the crossroads towards Aureille. Arles, the D17 size a straight line to Eyguières. Avignon by the RN7 direction Sénas-Orgon take D569 Eyguières direction that crosses Northern massif south of there, the D24 agree Saint-Martin-de-Crau and the D78, leases.

Landscapes

The Alpilles offer landscape of low mountain on the fringe of a dreary plain as if the mistral had peddled on this limestone pedestal a little bit of the Alps. The comparison stops yet the beautiful forests of holm oaks and Aleppo pines clusters. They turn over the altitude in bushy scrubland dotted with wild asparagus boots and oak kermes in prickly leaves and thyme and Rosemary spring lawn there brings a beautiful mosaic of colors.

Fauna and flora

Rising between two Plains, the Alpilles are a great perch for birds. More besides the side of la Crau and the Valley of Saint-Rémy. The Crau offers indeed an aerodrome natural bird migratory and .es bowels of the limestone cliffs nearby, a cottage-step deemed. Its storied vegetation also warrants a pantry to birds this is that Warblers (Dartford, Orpheus Black-headed or spectacled) have established their base camp, joined by the tawny pipit, short-(a Hawk), the ortolan Bunting toed and some partridges.
But the Alpilles, from the ubac to hotter, distils, especially all the perfumes of Provence, thyme, Juniperus Phoenicia, Rosemary, Sage, hyssop... The legend tells that Nostradamus (born in Saint-Rémy, died at Salon), devin but also known to renowned herbalist, plied these garrigues to constitute its love potions, its ointments, his blushes, and jams.

To discover

Outputs of Earth as if by magic, the Alpilles invite to the ride and everyone is cutting his way by guessing those hunters from aromatic plants. But the massive, almost annual target of fire must be approached with caution and wisdom. The GR6 crosses the chain from side to side.
•    The ride of the copies
Lovers of walking or mountain biking, take direction Eyguières, via Salon. At the exit of the village, in the direction of Aureille (CD 17), a forest track bordered olive opens quietly in a corner on your right. It leads to the site of the Romaniere (which is the subject of regular reforestation) and offers two circuits, one plain, one serrated at the foot of the cliffs. the first is covered with gravel, the second meanders in red earth languages. Prefer this path there, less monotonous allowing you to cross a few oak woodlands in the shadow of the highest point of the massif (copies, 480 m), cross the "jas" (dry stone sheepfolds) abandoned and get drunk by the scent of maquis that dispenses place. The ride is 5 km and leads to the village of Aureille. It is not very known and wild tranquility, offers beautiful views on the plain of la Crau.
•    The caves of shims
Hooked to the trolling of the Alpilles dress as a groomsman aux Basques of the bride, the small village of Lamanon (North Hall) houses the enchanting caves of shims. Coming from Salon (via route Jean-Moulin to Sénas) on his car in the shade of plane trees garera to borrow a small path behind the Church, lined pines and Oaks. The (short) trail leads to a fat prairie, a circus of rocks dotted with caves. The occupation of these balms carved in the bowels of the cliff (more or less large and accessible) dates back to the Neolithic peoples, the Salian and the Celto ligures who settled in the area. A medieval knight, Bertrand of Allamanon (which gave its name to the village) had built his Castle, whose remnants merge in the ochre colour of the place.
•    Les Baux-de-Provence
"Between heaven and Earth" advocates the motto of leases. She believes not so well say. The site (one of the most beautiful villages of France), hemmed of jagged ridges whose whiteness rented with a most beautiful lights of Provence, is perched on a rocky spur which detaches the Alpilles and leases one of the strongholds of Provence. You can see cut in the ochre of the quarries the remains of a feudal Castle dismantled under Richelieu and the Saracen Tower, centerpiece of the watch at the time. Visits to the Citadel and the village are worth a visit, especially from the balcony which offers a magical panorama on the site and its surroundings. But prefer less touristic paths which play in jumps-vallons. Those who lead for example to the Tremaies (to the North) or the Val d'Enfer which legend tells that he would have inspired the Divine Comedy Dante. For approaching (on the road to Saint-Rémy), be well advised to bring good shoes because the descent plunges into a rock talus whose bottom is lined with green tablecloths of garrigue.
A detour is required also by the chapel Sainte-Blaise houses a Museum of the olive tree, a slide show that of Van Gogh, Cézanne, presents the tribute of the great painters fetish shaft of Provence. Place magical even if it is busy, the Cathedral of images is installed in huge halls of career. A stop freshness, but also a cultural stopover.
To get there take the D27 Saint - Remy or Maussane, Arles take the D17 and reassemble on the D27.
•    La Crau: the last desert
Hyphen between the Camargue, the Alpilles and the Val de Durance, located between Arles and Salon (RN113), la Crau is the last French semi-arid steppe. A parenthesis between marshes and forests; a sea of pebbles of 11,000 ha in this "coussous", the former delta of the Durance rollers do more end in bleaching in the Sun, and added to the geological explanation is necessarily divine legends, of Hercules saved from attackers by the rain of stones of Zeus or of those giants who wanted to reach God by piling mountains (les Alpilles, the Ventouxthe Vaucluse Mountains...) and who in return received an avalanche of stone burial at all ever.One of them, the variolite Zebra green veined white, is a GRI-GRI shepherds protecting said snakes and lightning.
But in its aspect of desert staked Cypress, la Crau retains a rich ecosystem: it is natural airfield all migratory birds, a true sanctuary classified by UNECE in six areas of Europe to protect first.
The children of Adam de Craponne, which skirted the Provence, are clinging to this earth as the rare plants that grow poorly in the coussous, and have multiplied the channels. They grow in underwater meadows Hay is cut three times year to ship it in the stables around the world for its food. Others have chosen raising sheep and the Merino of Arles, whose wool account it as among the most famous in the world. But jas, the sheepfolds of drystone which punctuate the Crau and recently it was discovered traces dating back to antiquity, are more many antan.
La Crau has lost 80% of its original area (60,000 ha) in twenty years and way under the weight of growers and market gardeners. The best way to discover it is to leave the RN 113 and borrow the CD that lead to Eyguières or Aureille, at the foot of the Alpilles.

The Blue Coast

Between Marseille and Fos, Coast hesitates between two colors, the blue of the sea and the green of the hills. For preserved in these jagged and fringed by location of sandy coasts, the allure of an oasis wedged between two industrial sites, some speak of the miracle,... but here it requests only one thing: the talent of nature and that of the men who have preserved the.

Location and access

The Blue Coast stretches its 24 km of coastline and its 3,000 ha of hills on the eastern fringe of the massif de la Nerthe between the harbour of Marseille and Martigues-Fos Gulf. It comes in the form of steep creeks Ensues, and then in a succession of coves carpeted in ochre sand between Carry-le-Rouet and Carro.
By the A55 (Marseille-Martigues), then the D5 which runs Ensues down between the Valley of the Eagle and I' Escalayole to connect Carry to Carro by the seafront. A55 road (direction Carry), the D9 connects to four lanes, but inland this time, the different municipalities of the seafront.

Landscapes

With the horizon sea and beaches notched in the cliffs, the garrigue shares this limestone area with forests of Aleppo pines, swarming here and there with valleys lined with oak and with a more varied flora snatched from the fire. Two not the mythical calanques outputs of sea as a geological curiosity and that protracted by that of Figuerolles, the Côte Bleue staged the typical landscape of the Mediterranean coast, with a succession of vertical cliffs, hills next to the sea and ravines flowing. The beaches from the Hill soften the landscape. On the side of Rove and Ensues, it can see the "bancaous" that meander terraces between drystone walls testifying to agricultural and pastoral activity important to 19th.

Fauna and flora

Alongside the pines of Aleppo, Oak kermes and cists, "children" of the fires that have ravaged the area, resist some species of olivier, well adapted to the climate, black and white poplars near wells-Saint-Antoine and some fig trees here and there. Near Figuerolles, a (rare) Spain genet gives its gold buttons to the place. 27 species of breeding birds share these roosts, the Nightingale to the Dartford Warbler of the pie to the ortolan Bunting passing through some raptors such as Kestrels that nest in the cliffs, the Marsh Harrier, hidden in the reeds, or the sparrowhawk who reigns over the pine forests and monitors the ballet of squirrels, rabbits frolicking and Fox dens. Seashore, this rocky coast - the first since the Spain - is home to one of the more magical underwater gardens of the Mediterranean.

To discover

Micro very protected from the fire of 1989 (11,500 ha destroyed in 48 h) the Blue Coast is well served on the coast but was gradually closed to vehicular traffic inland, on the side of Rove. 22 km of track have yet been developed and several trails (including a coastal path) offer pedestrian access to the forested massifs.
•    The forest of Figuerolles
It is one of the last forest areas on the shore of the étang de Berre, a site that comes in three hills covered by garrigues, copses of Oaks and fragrant pine (North of Martigues, East of Saint-Mitre-les-Remparts) the Mediterranean ecosystem. The departure of Saint-Mitre, can play in jumps-vallons between remains olive groves, vineyards and the tamaris leads fields, getting drunk retina smells tinted heady fragrances of aromatic plants, surrendering at random from the many roads frequented by hunters and that criss-cross the forest. You can forget so smacks of the nearby industrial complex and socializing. On the South side of the forest, a Myrtle carpet welcomes for example the attentive Walker.
•    Carry-le-Rouet reservation
Founded in 1983, delimited by buoys floating 1 km off the coast, Carry-le-Rouet reserve stretches on 85 underwater Museum the largest Mediterranean ha. It is forbidden is sin, there wet boat and plunge in bottles. But the merchants of masks and snorkels in the sector make recipe. Not to 20,000 Leagues but a few metres under the sea, can push the doors of this magical garden where to dance pink anemones red stars and a variety of algae with turquoise highlights, green red and tender. The Princess of places meets the sweet name of Posidonia and established here a Kingdom of a thousand hectares lining the bottom of the Sea (30 m). This vast prairie and its maze of stems which is both the heart and lung of the site was settled by octopuses, bars, sea breams, the Moon, groupers and wrasses moving in bands; but also by species (50 total) rare blennies, saupes (the only exclusive herbivore in the Mediterranean) or baillon that add their colours to this incredible patchwork.
•    The Mazet Theys
Two steps from Fos-sur-Mer and Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, the field of the Mazet puts a comma between the Côte Bleue and the Camargue. Here begins the territory of glasswort, these clumps of oily herbs that grow between the dry, cracked soil cracks. The landscape is more monotonous but the halt, recommended even for the quality of the avifauna. The observers will be able to discover many species of breeding birds and including terns raine and the Redshank in endangered. Important colonies of gulls, oystercatchers-magpies, Wagtails, plovers and gulls are the Mazet a paradise for birds.
•    L'estaque, the last mooring lines
If you need to offer an urban parenthesis at halfway of the creeks and the Côte Bleue then made stopover in L'estaque one of the most picturesque districts of Marseille, nestled at the foot of the chain of la Nerthe which protects it from the mistral and confers the title of last green lung North of Marseille. Have that intend to stopover on this viewpoint because you might well make an extended stay in Provençal, l'estaque means "attaches" and many are attached: Cézanne, Braque.Dufy, Monticelli. The greatest painters have taken the road of the port and the Church but also surveyed the roads, to the Valley of the Mariner that winds between the fragrant pine trees at the end of a trail of rockeries or of materials that plunges to the sea gardens shimmering with Intoxicating aromas
The ' fauves ' were not deceived. L'estaque breathe light and has a soul as Motley as a palette of colors, ochre and red, green and blue.

Calanques, the teeth of the sea

"Kola" means stone and "calanques"... ocean of stones. In this indented coast, the tone is the joke, the eccentric allure and the necessarily skipping ride. Mythical land mysterious land as demonstrated by the recent discovery of the Cosquer cave with cave paintings, this massive limestone, awash and hemmed lace rocks, bites into the Mediterranean like the bow of a flagship braving eternity. It takes you as "Malaysia" won Marius in his time: in an exotic trip. A flight of gull, Marseille...

Geographical situation

Retained in the West by the massif de Veyre and pushed East by Puget which culminates at 564 million, the Calanques massif is the flagship of the chain of la Nerthe. It stretches its lace of rocks on 20 km, between Marseille and Cassis. Indented, the vast plain of the Ris and the Vaufrèges valleys dominate the landscape.

Landscapes

Steep cliffs to steep trails, the Calanques play jumps-Glens, on a carpet of stones dotted with green tablecloths. At the dawn of the 20th century, the solid mass of the creeks was already a natural wealth, but above all an economic asset where the loggers mixed the Sowers of great tits, stonemasons and shepherds. (Active) exploitation and fires, which did bleed the place, gave birth to the landscape of garrigues plunging towards Cassis, not in the sea but in a sea of vineyards to the renowned crus.
Cannot yet speak of the creeks without mentioning the Emerald expanse that serves as them horizon the sea here has reflections of silver and the limestone which is look dance makes them perhaps more brilliant than elsewhere. The emergence of sources of freshwater ice, dripping in the limestone strata and throwing himself into the big blue, gives water its exceptionally crystalline color.

Fauna and flora

If the garrigue dominates, a colony of pines, Port-Miou or Port-Pin, regained part of the massif, anchored before the sea like a bow or a sentry for sailors. The kermes oak still clings to its roots with fellow resistance as Juniper, almond and Cistus of Montpellier. You can even find some Oaks that lined antan places, on the plateau of Calderón or within the forest of la Gardiole.
But if it has lost its trees and a little bit of his soul, the Cove has kept its aromas, that Rosemary makes a feast of nostrils while Warbler, Peregrine Falcon, Eagle of Bonelli, Grand Duke, merle (blue or rock) and other Gulls are feasting mice, lizards, snakes and ephippigeres grasshoppers that abound here. Molosse Cestoni often invites to the banquet in the evening when the cicadas are silent: this bat inhabiting the cliffs can reach 50 cm wingspan.

To discover

Temperamental and austere environment, the Calanques massif offers only two ways to discover, on foot or by boat. The departure of Cassis, a large number of routes will take you off the beaten track. Garrigue lovers from forest home of the Gardiole in the assault of the George, via the Valley of Chalabran; athletes will put a rope in their bag to access the steep calanque de L'oule (after En Vau).
•    Cap Canaille
East of Cassis and the chain rises the highest sea cliff in Europe with his 416 m at the withers. It is reached by the GR98 and a nice path leading to the black Balsam. A little higher, a ridge trail (take the port of Cassis GR to no the glue and turn right) winds beside the road that leads to La Ciotat. Continues after the cap Canaille on the fringe of the more uniform soubeyranes cliffs until the semaphore of the Eagle's beak.
•    Port Miou
More than a ride, a true pilgrimage on this peninsula where you can access by the GR98 from Cassis and where you can discover the ruins of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Voyage that crossing fishermen. Devout pilgrimage, pilgrimage also forgotten traditions, the trail follows a career which was exploited until 1961 and that tore the calanques these limestones of virtues for the construction of the canal Suez or the wharf of Algiers. Some made even their bags to go through another sea, the Atlantic, and serve as the base for the statue of liberty.
After the career, it borrows a shady trail where you can see flush an underground river of fresh water. If you follow the path that juts out on the peninsula of the Cacau, you 140.00 on the 'blower hole', a kind of semi-immergee marine cave where rush waves with DIN. Backed by the sea, there's the green ocean of the forest of the Fontasse.
•    The Creek of En Vau
It is true to the name it is given: it is worth a visit. Because it summarizes the charm of the calanques. Strange cocktail of austere cliffs and welcoming Pebble Beach, a world where the Immaculate white of the walls is reflected in the emerald green of the Creek. En Vau is a jewel in a postcard setting, but it deserves.That you get one side or the other of the GR, the slope is steep and slabs, slippery, even if a hijacked trail allows to avoid direct diving into the casket and a forest track is lets you drag from the plateau of Carpiagne
En Vau is also a paradise for climbers because the rock, retained until then, cracks and explodes in deep furrows to better enable colorful spiders to clear a road to an artificial paradise. Climb to the hut of the nearby axe offers a fabulous view of the big blue.
•    The Devenson
Marseille, it will leave behind coves inhabited and Sormiou, Morgiou. Blackcurrant, will be within 4 h walking legs and a stop at the pretty col de L'oule. Good reasons therefore to assess the needle of the Devenson which caress the clouds at the bend of the pass of the same name, and its cliffs that stretch 300 m high.We're here between sky and sea, in a universe where sealed in the limestone plaques recall that some climbers have suffered here, the laws of a powerful nature the scree of the small corridor is steep and the Corniche Paretti to cross above the waves invites respect and caution. What also makes the charm of the place.With below hell Cove which makes dance the foam on the vaults of the sea caves and the island of the Dromedary which has step shape of a mammal but that serves as a reminder - if we do not already - knew that the creeks are to be classified in the category of deserts. Map IGN No. 269 (at 1: 15 000) is essential to discover the site and training adapted to cross the acrobatic passages is advisable.
•    The last Eagle of the garrigues
Its plumage resembles its ramage and yet the Bonelli's Eagle is not the host of all Woods; from a few limestone walls of the Mediterranean area. Victim of modern, (hunting, urbanization and tourism) fables, this small Raptor to delicate habitat is one of the most threatened species in France, to be the subject of a backup since 1984 plan. A few couples placed under high surveillance still haunt the Alpilles, the Camargue, the Calanques and the massif des Maures. The Bonelli's Eagle is recognizable by its small size, long tail Brown, to the white patch he wears on his back and black sparks dotting her beige chest. But also to its fast, flexible and elegant flight or his way to put his wings in the heart in the sky and the season of love from October to January! This aesthete of the Spades who rarely misses its prey is the last Eagle of the garrigues, who likes to attend the rugged landscapes and limestone cliffs where he took refuge he lives as a couple and its range is usually two eggs in February-March.


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