Saturday, March 17, 2007


Now we zoom back to our 1989 road trip ! When we last saw our intrepid travelers, they had spent a night in Nîmes, then took off to see Les Baux de Provence and Arles and points beyond...

We left Arles after lunch and headed south. We'd end up spending our next night in a place called Sète on the coast. But first, we had a few more sights to see. We drove down through the Camargue to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. We got out of the car at the beach for a quick walk. Quick, because it was October and the wind was blowing and it was not warm. But the sea was pretty.

People walking along the beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

We didn't stay long enough to see much of the town or visit its famous church where the three Saint Marys (Magdalene, Jacobe, and Salome) are supposedly entombed. Not being Catholics, we really aren't very knowledgeable about all that stuff. About 2,500 santois live in the town year round these days. That population swells considerably during the summer.

After our beach walk, we headed to Aigues-Mortes to see the famous walled town named for "dead waters." In the 13th century, Louis IX (Saint Louis) built this town as a jumping-off point for his crusade. Again, this was a quick stop for us. There was a festival of some kind going on inside the walled town and we didn't take the time to mingle with the crowds.

Cars parked outside the walls of Aigues-Mortes.

I did notice a bunch of cars parked in a field outside the ramparts. It struck me as funny for some reason, like it was Disneyland or something other than a real place.

The town hit its high point in the 14th century, when 15,000 people lived there. But with time the channels silted up and the coastline slowly moved farther from town. There are about 6,000 aiguemortais living there now, both inside and outside the ramparts. Maybe climate change and rising sea levels will make Aigues-Mortes a port town once again...


  1. I remember going to the Camargue back in the 60's. They train bulls there for the bullfights in Nimes and Arles. And in Saintes-Maries de la Mer there is the famous church where at Christmas time, a procession of villagers with their animals come for the midnight mass. The "santons" of Provence come from this area. I'm sorry this has become such a tourist ridden area but then so many places have. Cheers. gabby

  2. Gabby, I didn't know that about the santons. Thanks !


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