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It’s a dangerous place Camargue. Full of glowering gypsies, fleeing scientists, untrustworthy gastronomes and the occasional British spy.
A place where if men on snowy white steeds aren’t chasing you across the wetlands, angry bulls are.
That’s the picture that was etched into a boy’s overactive imagination by Alistair MacLean and a dodgy novel called Caravan to Vaccares.
I knew it was all nonsense, but the notion Camargue was a mysterious and slightly dangerous place lingered. It’s the same with Marseilles.
The wonderful thing was the reality didn’t disappoint – there is mystery, there is beauty, there are gypsies and white horses. The food is good enough to attract gastronomes, untrustworthy or otherwise.
And I was actually chased (well walked at a brisk canter) across the wetlands. Not by bulls or horsemen but by mosquitoes with razor bites that could penetrate two layers of clothes.
Plus there is the most deliciously vibrant light. Maybe we were just lucky, but the light made colours zing to the point they seemed almost over saturated.
There is no real purpose to these ramblings other than as an excuse to post photographs of a part of France which had occupied a part of my imagination for decades.
One of the first things that registers is there’s an awful lot of birds. Plain ones, odd looking ones, elegant ones, long-legged and short-legged. The second thing that registers is that a lot of birds with long beaks means there’s a lot of fish. That means good food for them, good food for us.
A pot of mussels accompanied by crusty bread, a plate of chips, a nod at a salad and a generous glass of crisp white vin in Saintes Maries de la Mer. Simple, quite cheap and a perfect Camargue lunch. A place where time disappears as easily as the wine down your throat.
On the Church Roof
I sometimes feel there’s a bit of an emperor’s new clothes thing going on with French cuisine in general, as if there’s a law which means folk have to exclaim how wonderful it is even when it’s mediocre (same thing happens with Marrakech). But the markets, oh the markets. They have me on my knees worshipping them.
Blasé about Egrets #1
Blasé about Egrets #2
Flat and Wet
Flat lands usually don’t do it for me – too characterless a landscape. The Camargue was different. There was something about this expanse of land that captured the gaze and sent it into a dreamy trance.
Because there has to be a Flamingo
No bulls, no gypsies, no white horses (they are in another post) but there has to be a flamingo. Flocks of these oddly beautiful birds add an exotic element to a land that is ripe for inclusion in a juicy novel about murder and mystery set in a imagination inflaming location. Caravan to Camargue has a nice ring to it.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+