Few roads head through the Camargue plain. This area unfolds between the two mouths of the Rhone river on the southern coast of France. While travellers rarely leave these roads, the Camargue horse moves with sure-footed confidence through this marshy wasteland in the south of France.
With an area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi), the Camargue is western Europe's largest river delta. It is a vast plain comprising large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes. These are in turn surrounded by a large cultivated area dotted with horse and bull ranches.
Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. The central area around the shoreline of the Étang de Vaccarès has been protected as a regional park since 1927, in recognition of its great importance as a haven for wild birds such as flamingos, Egyptian geese, egrets and heron. In 2008 it was incorporated into the larger Parc naturel régional de Camargue.
But the bell of the ball are those Shaggy-maned, Camargue stallions, scarred by battles amongst their own herd, but their presence, impressive and intoxicating.
The horses of the Camargue are believed to be of Arab breed, introduced in medieval times by Saracen invaders who landed on the nearby coast to sweep into Spain. Some of the Saracens’ sturdy white horses roamed riderless into the Camargue area and bred there, creating a new home for themselves.
Whether you are a painter or photographer, the light here is golden. Whether it is kissing the water of the medetranian, caressing the white coat of the Camargue stallions, or creating that perfect catch light in one of the thousands of birds eyes… you have to visit the area to appreciate what I was lucky to have experienced last year and will yet to experience in early July.