The river and the sea have created an almost lunar landscape over which the huge Tour de Constance of Aigues Mortes stands guard. Before flowing into the sea after Arles, the Rhone forms the delta where gipsies believed two saints named Mary were washed ashore. Caravans and trailers parked along the sea wall, while high spirited bulls wait for the feria in their enclosures. A single main road runs past rice fields, peaceful pools where you can find pink flamingoes and across the salt marshes, crisscrossed by narrow paths. At Salin-de-Giraud a quite bumpy coastal track leads to the isolated Beauduc beach. The only way to return to the land is via ferry.
Visit l’Abbaye de Montmajour
In AD 948 a community of hermits was founded in the middle of the marshes. The abbey became steadily wealthier and added on a cellar, a church, a refectory and chapels.The extent of the ruins gives us some idea of its final enormous size. But for all its wealth, starkness was de rigeur in the abbey: only the capitals in the cloister were adorned.
This the port King Louis lX ( St Louis) built in 1248 as a base from which his ships could set sail for the crusades. Washed by an arm of the sea, ramparts just over a mile long enclose this rectangular city. At roof level is a walkway along the walls to the Constance Tower, once a prison for Templars and Huguenots. Now it is the vantage point from which there are breathtaking views of this beautiful area.
The legend tells how a boat carrying Mary Jacobe , sister of the Virgin Mary, and many Salome, mother of the apostles James and John, were washed ashore at this seaside village between the Rhone and the Mediterranean. Their statues in the 12th- century Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer recall the event.In the crypt, dressed in sequined robes, is a third statue; that of their maid servant, Sara, venerated by the gipsies. The three Saints are carried in procession to the sea on May 24 and 25 of each year.
Digue a la Mer
The digue ( sea wall) is closed to motor vehicles. It runs along the coast for 12 miles to Salin. On the way, walkers can admire the gray sand dunes, samphire fields broken by saltwater lagoons and flocks of seabirds.
Arles gives a little forecast of Spain, with its blend Roman, Romanesque and Baroque. In the first century, the amphitheater was similar in size to its rival in Nimes. In the Middle Ages, it suffered serious damage when it was turned into a slum containing 200 homes, but in 1830 it reverted to its original function, and corridas were staged here. At the same time , the remains of the Roman theater ( 27 -25BC) – What was also rescued were two marble columns, tiers of stone benches and the Cipolin marble paving of an orchestra pit. Right in the city of Arles center is the fabulous 12th century cathedral of St-Trophime whose somptuous portal and cloister – The most richly carved in – recount Bible stories and local legends.