Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
If you are in Provence, you should try to visit the national park at Camargue. The park is very large, sitting along the coast of the Mediterranean, and there are various areas which you can visit to hike, bike, or just access via car. Some areas are not accessible by car, however, so you definitely have to plan ahead for what you want to do and which part of the park you want to visit (more info here). The park is famous for its salt flats (and flamingos), its white horses, and general overall natural beauty.
As we only had a few hours in an afternoon to visit the park (and with a child), we opted to see the salt flats near Aïgues-Mortes, Les Salins du Midi. It was easy to get there by car and there is a place where you can take a tour of the salt flats on one of those little trains for 10 euro. The tour takes just over an hour and will bring you around the salt flats and salt mountains (the salt had just been mined in September so we saw all of the 2018 product piled up). The first stop on the tour is to walk up a salt mountain which is pretty cool and the views are amazing. As the train takes you around the salt flats, you can see pink flamingos which feed on the shrimp and algae in the water here.
Throughout the spring and summer, the salt workers (sauniers) are bringing water to the salt tables and, due to the sun and wind here, create water that is saturated in salt. The salt crystallizes and forms a crust which is then harvested in September and packed into these giant salt mountains.
The second stop on the tour is the salt “museum” which is really more of a gift shop. There are a few exhibits showing the tools of the salt workers and the history of this area, but it’s primarily a place to buy salt. That said, the salt is really good so if you have room in your bag, pick up some fleur de sel on your way out!
There is a picnic area next to the place where the tourist train picks you up so it’s easy to bring your own food for lunch before the tour. After finishing the tour, drive over to the nearby town of Aïgues-Mortes and walk around for a bit. The old medieval city sits within its stone walls just outside of the salt flats. We happened to be there on the day that the Feria was happening – this is a large town celebration which apparently includes a lot of drinking, costumes, and bullfighting. The town is tiny so you won’t need much time to visit.