Saturday, April 1, 2017

A day in Camargue: Saintes Maries de la mer

Once upon a time, many moons ago (actually in 40 after C), Marie Jacobé, Marie Salomé, Martha, Marie Magdalena and Sara landed on the shores of Camargue after a long journey from Palestine on a small boat.
Marie Jacobé and Marie Salomé settled in Camargue with Sara and spent the rest of their life, bringing to the locals the good words of Jesus. Sara, who was supposed to be the servant of Marie Salomé was of dark skin coming from a place known as "little Egypt" and became the Sainte of a population known today as the Gypsis...
Martha went on to Tarascon and Marie Magadalena to Saint Maximin, but that's another story....

"Les Saintes" as we name it locally is a cute little sea resort with a casual atmosphere.

The high time of the year is obviously happening on May 24th when all the gipsies gather for Sainte Sara's pilgrimage.

The drive from Saint Remy is about 1h10. Follow the signs to Arles and then to Saintes Maries de la mer.

If you want to hit the market, go on Monday or Friday (larger market). The market will give you a different feel than the Saint Remy one and will of course focus on local products such as the rice, the salt and the wine.

Stroll through the little streets of the village and visit the church with its crypt dedicated to Ste Sara. In 1448, King René of Provence ordered the exhumation of the Saintes whose relics were enshrined with great ceremony and are still here today.
You may also walk up the stair (3€ entrance fee) to the top of the church where you will get a nice panoramic view of the Camargue.

And for the Van Gogh fans, remember that Vincent spent a week here in June 1888 while he was in Arles. He did many drawings which he painted when back to Arles.

You'll find plenty of restaurant offering Bull dishes, fish an Paella.
We had lunch at La Taverne Italienne which we recommend. No fancy casual restaurant with a friendly service and overall good value for menu (2 courses lunch @15.90€, 3 courses at 17.50€)

If you intend to stay for sunset, dont forget to bring along a mosquito repellant....

Once you're finished with the village, drive back through Camargue (other post to come).

View of the Church of Les Saintes Maries de la mer

Sea salt, "Fleur de sel" and rice from Camargue

Sainte Salomé and Sainte Jacobé on their boat.

Sainte Sara's shrine in the crypt

Fisherman's boat

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