Sunday, June 5, 2011

Delta Day: Black Bull, White Horse, Pink Flamingo and a black Gypsy Saint

05.06.11 SUNSHINE IN THE CAMARGUE


The Rhone Delta is best known as the Camargue, marshy land of the black bull, the white horse, the pink flamingo and the gypsy.

Sara. More pics here
Once the weather picked up around mid-day, we headed for the area’s top town:  Saintes Maries de la Mer. The three Marys and a bunch of others, including their servant Sara, were set adrift after the Crucifixion and landed here. Sara is the patron saint of the gypsies and her statue is paraded in a huge procession in May (and another large one in the autumn). Back in 1948 the man who would be pope, then Papal Nuncio Roncalli, said mass here for the pilgrims.

See the brand!
Beautiful beaches here. Boat cruises too which take you up the Petite Rhone to see the flamingos, bulls and horses. We saw some from the road, especially the horses that were carrying tourists to see the others. Live Spanish style music, clicks and all, drifted from the full cafes and restaurants as we strolled in from the beach. Red and black rice were among the souvenir purchases.

Aigues-Mortes, the other biggish town here, is not too far away and was once a fort to guard against invaders from the sea. It is now some distance from the sea though canal boats park by its side. As this was just a “reccie” tour, we didn’t do the ramparts and so on – all the walls seem intact – but enjoyed strolling through the streets and squares.

Walked into a colourful sweet shop. Loads of samples were proffered by young assistants. We just couldn’t resist and loaded up with nougat and some surprise bits and pieces for friends and relatives at home.
Drove back then through the low flat fields – many planted with vines near Aigues-Mortes – to join the Sunday traffic as it returned to Arles and beyond. 

Loads left from yesterday’s market raid on Arles for dinner tonight. Main dish is cod and the wine is from Cassis on the Med (bought from a local wine shop with a very musty but rather rich cellar).
Clouds are back but we are glad to have had our hours in the sun today. Maybe more tomorrow. Fingers crossed.