Provence: Places to Explore

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The Camargue

Stretching to the horizon for about 800 square km (309 square miles), the vast alluvial delta of the Rhône known as the Camargue is an austere, flat marshland, scoured by the mistral and swarmed over by mosquitoes. Between the endless flow of sediment from the Rhône and the erosive force of the sea, its shape is constantly changing. Even the Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral described it in bleak terms: "Ni arbre, ni ombre, ni âme" ("Neither tree, nor shade, nor a soul"). Yet its harsh landscape harbors a concentration of exotic wildlife unique in Europe, and its isolation has given birth to an ascetic and ancient way of life that transcends national stereotype. People find the Camargue intriguing, birds find it irresistible. The protected marshes lure some 400 species, including more than 160 in migration.

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