|The Capital of the Camargue is a center of tradition and of festivity.|
There are not a lot of towns in the Camargue, since much of it is protected as the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue. Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer has thus earned the name, Capitale de la Camargue.
Where to Stay
There are a variety of hotels, both in the town itself and along the beach front, as well as opportunities to rent apartments or houses. More...
If you're really into horses, the place for you is Le Mas des Frigoulès, an equestrian ranch with a few guest accommodations. More...
And of course there is the beach, which in season is very popular for swimming and sunbathing. Along the docks you can arrange to take a boat excursion to see the marine life of the area and the coastline. The busy port offers a variety of boating opportunities. More...
The church of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer has a long history. The site is said to have been where Mary, the mother of James (St Mary Jacobé), Mary Salomé, Mary Magdalene and other refugees from Jerusalem landed in the first decades of Christianity, after they escaped from Palestine on a boat without a rudder. Today the Romanesque steeple stands above the narrow streets, with their many shops and restaurants. Visitors can ascend the steeple and enjoy the views of the beautiful Camargue.
The church has been a pilgrimage site since the 12th century, honoring St Mary Jacobé and St Mary Salomé, the saints of the village. In addition, the church is also home to an annual gypsy pilgrimage honoring St Sara the Black.
From Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, you can take excursions to see the wildlife in the park—by car, on foot, by bicycle, or on horseback.
There are many riding schools and stables that offer horse-riding trips for people of varying levels of experience. You can also visit a manade, where the horses and bulls are bred and are kept.
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is also home to a number of Camargue traditional festivals throughout the year, most focusing on the famous horses and bulls.
Here's a story of a visit during the town's biggest celebration.
The Tourist Information Office can provide information about festivals, and about excursions on land or sea.
ENVIA Bus Agglo 50 operates between the Gare d'Arles (train station) and Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer on the coast of the Camargue five times daily. More...