Saintes Maries de la Mer is a small town located in the Camargue on the Mediterranean coast, near the mouth of the Petit Rhône. This is a very famous place of pilgrimage, May 24 gypsies from around the world to honor Saint Sara, the "Black Virgin." It is also a seaside resort : many vacationers come to enjoy the sun and large sandy beaches.
The seaside activity Saintes-Maries sea is recent, the place has been occupied since at least Roman times. The village, lost at the end of the Rhone delta did not provide conditions of easy life, located at the moving boundary between land and water, built on an island facing the sea, surrounded by marshy ponds.
This outpost was in the front line of invaders from the sea: the Vikings stay there in winter 859-60, and 869 the Saracens kidnap Rotland the bishop of Arles. Despite the payment of a ransom, Arles inhabitants only recover his body.
The old village of Saintes Maries de la Mer is tightened around its fortified church, built in the 12th century on the site of an older chapel, itself probably built on the site of a Roman temple. The building is austere, thick walls are pierced with loopholes and are crowned with machicolations. Inside the church a well allows water supply.
The place is ideal for counts and legends, the Saintes Maries are Marie-Jacobe, sister of the Virgin Mary and Mary Salome, mother of the apostles John and Jacques, accompanied by their maid Sarah. Driven from Palestine by persecution, they land here with Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Martha and Maximin evangelizers saints of Provence. In 1448 King René discovered the relics of Saints who give their name to the village (official name since 1838). They are still kept in the church.
Saintes Maries de la sea is a strong place for the culture of Provence. Frédéric Mistral located denouement of Mireille. The Marquis Folco de Baroncelli, founder of the "Nacioun Gardiano", friend of félibres Mistral and Roumanillen was the great defender of the culture and traditions Camarguaise. He is buried near the town of Saintes-Maries.
The painter Vincent Van Gogh spent a few days at Saintes-Maries in June 1888. He painted the village of fishermen, and the boats beached on the shore. "Port-Guardian" the marina is a recent development from the 60s marking the transformation of village seaside town. The allotment of second homes have emerged from the sandy soil around the city to host the influx of summer visitors. However, just go out of the town to dive into a unique Camargue nature and make stunning discoveries.
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer in photos : slideshow
Information and accommodation in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and nearby
Cottages in the "Parc Naturel Regional de Camargue" near the pond Vaccarès.
Large choice of b&b near Saintes Maries de la mer in Camargue on the site of b&b in Provence.
Tourist office web site : www.saintesmaries.com
Coming to Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer
GPS coordinates N 43°27'11'' - E 4°25'44''
The town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is located in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, in the Regional Natural Park of Camargue.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer location : altitude 2 metres, 2300 inhabitants, 17 miles from Aigues Mortes, 18 miles from La Grande Motte, 19 miles from Salins de Giraud, 21 miles from le Grau du Roi, 22 miles from Arles, 47 miles from Avignon.