In the past, the Camargue was covered in forests (of which only a few hedged farmlands remain), as can still be seen in the names of certain places like Bois Verdun, Sylvéréal.
Although a few white poplars, tamarix, junipers and oaks remain, such plants are no longer typical vegetation in the area today. Human activities are largely behind their decline, and the landscape now consists of vast marshy expanses and salt marshes. It is in this earth soaked in water and salt that the brown salicornia plant grows.
In the summer and autumn, there are also places where the soil is adorned with the pretty blue of common sea-lavender. The more fertile soils also host colourful carpets of irises, broom, forget-me-nots and asphodels.
At the edge of the marshland and canals, 'sagno' (reeds which the herdsman use to cover their cabins) can be found in abundance. This natural area is an ideal place for the 350 or so bird species which come to nest here and reproduce. The Rhône delta is actually one of the largest migratory centres in Europe.
The pink flamingo, one of the emblems of the Camargue is, of course, the bird most visitors look out for. As pink flamingoes live in groups of several thousand, they are not too difficult to spot here. In April, no fewer than 20,000 chicks are born on the Camargue and, at the end of the summer, a portion of these birds migrate to the other side of the Mediterranean while the rest stay to brave the winter chill in the Camargue.
Besides the pink flamingoes, a host of other species can also be seen. Although still endangered by man, birds of prey have been protected since 1976 and are represented here by the marsh harrier, the black kite, the sparrowhawk, the buzzard, eagles, owls and horned owls.
There are also many songbirds here. The Camargue provides habitats for local species which breed in the delta, such as tits, wagtails and nightingales. Other species come from tropical Africa, such as bee-eaters, redstarts and red robins.
The aquatic environment is, of course, the dream place for web-footed birds like mallards, teals, siffleurs and ducks, but also for some sea birds that come here to nest and breed.
The Pont-du-Gau Ornithological Park is a great place to spot the many species of bird which call the Camargue home.© Sprunger Marie Sprunger / 123RF
A symbol of environmental balance and protection, the Camargue is a land of paddy fields, salt marshes, meadows, and dunes.© Nimu1956 / iStock
Le Grau-du-Roi is the only maritime waterway in the Gard region© Peter Eckert / 123RF
Armed with a lance and shield, the fishermen of the region sit perched on a platform at the stern of the boat and take part in jousting competitions such as those held in the days of knights and cavaliers.© Flavio Vallenari / iStock
The Camargue region is primarily renowned for its preserved natural surroundings, although it also boasts an extraordinary architectural heritage.© GRAPHICOBSESSION