Fodor's Expert Review Parc Régional de Camargue

The Camargue Views

As you drive the few roads that crisscross the Camargue, you'll usually be within the boundaries of the Parc Régional de Camargue. Unlike state and national parks in the United States, this area is privately owned and utilized within rules imposed by the state. The principal owners, the famous manadiers (the Camargue equivalent of a small-scale rancher), with the help of their gardians, keep it for grazing their wide-horned bulls and their broad-bellied, white-dappled horses. It is thought that these beasts are the descendents of ancient, indigenous wild animals, and though they're positively bovine in their placidity today, they still bear the noble marks of their ancestors. The strong, heavy-tailed Camargue horse has been traced to the Paleolithic period (though some claim the Moors imported an Arab strain) and is prized for its stolid endurance and tough hooves. The curved-horned taureau (bull), if not indigenous, may have been imported by Attila the Hun.

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As you drive the few roads that crisscross the Camargue, you'll usually be within the boundaries of the Parc Régional de Camargue. Unlike state and national parks in the United States, this area is privately owned and utilized within rules imposed by the state. The principal owners, the famous manadiers (the Camargue equivalent of a small-scale rancher), with the help of their gardians, keep it for grazing their wide-horned bulls and their broad-bellied, white-dappled horses. It is thought that these beasts are the descendents of ancient, indigenous wild animals, and though they're positively bovine in their placidity today, they still bear the noble marks of their ancestors. The strong, heavy-tailed Camargue horse has been traced to the Paleolithic period (though some claim the Moors imported an Arab strain) and is prized for its stolid endurance and tough hooves. The curved-horned taureau (bull), if not indigenous, may have been imported by Attila the Hun.

When it's not participating in a bloodless bullfight (mounted players try to hook a ribbon from the base of its horns), a bull may well end up in the wine-rich regional stew called gardianne de taureau. Riding through the marshlands in leather pants and wide-rimmed black hats and wielding long prongs to prod their cattle, the gardians themselves are as fascinating as the wildlife. Their homes—tiny, whitewashed, cane-thatched huts with the north end raked and curved apselike against the vicious mistral—dot the countryside. The signature wrought-iron crosses at the gable invoke holy protection, and if God isn't watching over this treeless plain, they at least ground lightning.

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Views National Park

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France

04–90–97–10–82

www.parc-camargue.fr

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