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France's Camargue, Arles, Les Saintes Maries de la Mer & Aigues Mortes

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by Ferne Arfin
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France's Camargue, Arles, Les Saintes Maries de la Mer & Aigues Mortes by Ferne Arfin

Broad, flat and sunburnt, the Camargue is an almost surreal web of shallow, lakes (étangs), meandering rivers, canals, marshes and dunes. Part-desert, part-irrigated plain, part-grassland, part-nature reserve, it is an area of France truly unlike any other. A rough triangle, bounded on the north by Arles, the west by Aigues Mortes and theeast by the desert-like Crau and the industrial suburbs of Marseille, the Camargue has an elemental, almost primitive ambiance. For birdwatchers, this is genuinely paradise. There are more than 350 resident and migratory species. The Camargue is the only place outside of Africa where you can see pink flamingos nesting in their tens of thousands. The habitat also supports about 1,000 species of flowering plants. For many inhabitants life revolves around the semi-wild, cream- and dust-colored Camargue horse and the small, clever native bulls. And, in May, the area hosts one of Europe's most colorful festivals, when more than 8,000 gypsies from all over Europe converge on Les Saintes Maries de la Mer to celebrate their patron saint, Sarah. Camargue horses are legendary. White or grey and cream, short-legged and sturdy, with bushy tails and thick, glamorous manes, they are really a kind of pony. Sometimes referred to as the Gateway to the Camargue, technically, Arles is the Camargue. During the first century BC, Julius Caesar gave the land, taken from Massalian Greeks and local tribes, to victorious Roman Legions. It eventually became a kind of second capital of the Roman Empire, known in Roman writings of the period as "The Little Rome of Gaul." The Alyscamps, a Roman and early Christian cemetery, Les Thermes de Constantin and the mysterious Cryptoportiques du Forum suggest how Roman citizens lived. An archway that is one of the few remains of the Roman Forum is built right into the facade of a local hotel. Virtually destroyed by barbarians during the Dark Ages, Arles was rebuilt by Charlemagne in the ninth century. For a while it was the capital of an independent kingdom before being absorbed into Provence in the 16th century. The beautiful Cathedral of St. Trophime with its Gothic and Romanesque cloister dates from this period. The Amphithéâter, built around 90 BC, was the site of gladiatorial contests and animal hunts until the sixth century. It was capable of seating 20,000 spectators. During the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages and the warring period of the Middle Ages, Arlesians sheltered within its walls. At one time it held two chapels and more than 200 houses. Today it is used for concerts and drama, sports events. This is just the beginning. The guide goes on to cover the other nearby towns in the region. All of the detail is here - the hotels, the restaurants, the history, what to see and do. With color photos throughout.<

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Ebook Details
Pages: 220
Size: 10.2 MB
Publisher: Hunter Publishing
Date published:   2013
ISBN: 9781556502200 (DRM-EPUB)

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Nonfiction > Travel > Europe > France

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Nonfiction > Travel > Europe > France
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