Monday, 17 November 2008

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a very charming village in southern France. It's located in the Camargue region which hosts the famous marsh of the same name, and lies down to the azure water of the Mediterranean with its long white sand beaches.

The legends tell that the three Maria's who saw Jesus' empty tomb after the resurrection sailed from Alexandria in Egypt and stranded where the town lies today. This is one reason why the town is an important pilgrimage for the Christians. The town is also very important for the gypsies who gathers every year to celebrate Saint Sarah. Saint Sarah was perhaps the daughter of Marie Magdalena, or perhaps the dark-skinned servant of the three Maria's. The town is antique and sources relate that the place has been habited since the fourth century. The Romans were in the area and that's marked the region and neighbouring towns significantly. In the ninth century the Vikings spent a winter in Camargue with raids on the area.

The streets re narrow and the houses whitewashed, which brings the charm all the way. It is a beautiful place and the marsh around is famous for its horses, black bulls and flamingos. There's an unique atmosphere where cultures and traditions meet and unfolds. You'll find camping and horse renting outside the town, along with other activities in the marsh and on the sea. On horseback, which of course is the famous Camargue horses, you can explore the marsh or have beautfiul sunset rides along the beach.

There are festivals and religious events several times a year. Bull fighting, horse displays, bull fighting from horseback, herding of bulls and horses through the streets of the town, races, the yearly gypsy festival and lots more. There's always something to experience in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Official homepage: http://www.saintesmaries.com/

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/vandevivere/

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