Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Camargue and the Gypsy Pilgrimage

Executive summary by Darmansjah

The Camargue  is the region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. The eastern arm is called the Grand Rhône; the western one is the Petit Rhône.

Administratively it lies within the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, the appropriately named "Mouths of the Rhône", and covers parts of the territory of the communes of Arles – the largest commune in Metropolitan France, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – the second largest – and Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. A further expanse of marshy plain, the Petite Camargue (little Camargue), just to the west of the Petit Rhône, is in the département of Gard.

Camargue was designated a Ramsar site as a "Wetland of International Importance" on December 1, 1986.
The Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds and has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. Its brine ponds provide one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. The marshes are also a prime habitat for many species of insects, notably (and notoriously) some of the most ferocious mosquitos to be found anywhere in France. Camargue horses (Camarguais) roam the extensive marshlands, along with Camargue cattle (see below).

The native flora of the Camargue have adapted to the saline conditions. Sea lavender and glasswort flourish, along with tamarisks and reeds.

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