The ultimate guide to Saintes-Maries

Let me guide you to a little piece of paradise located in the south of France…

Saintes-Maries-De-La-Mer is a little town located in the east-south of France in the wild area of the Camargue. I discovered it 3 years ago when I return from my stay to London. My aunt has come to this town every single year since as long as she can remember and in the summer of 2013 she brought me along her trip and I instantly fell in love with this place and since then I visit every year! Because once you have tried it you get the need to return whenever you can and it can be up to two or three times a year, and before you know it, you’ll caught yourself buying a cabin there.

This lovely little town is a real bohemian heaven. Think gypsy caravans, fortune-tellers, flamenco, gardian houses, wild horses and bulls, flamingos, cowboy boots, Spanish vibes, breathtaking sunsets … Sounds like a dream to you? Here are my tips and my favorite addresses for you to enjoy an amazing time in one of my favorite destination in France.

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WHERE TO STAY

IMG_2155– GARDIAN CABIN (website)

What a better way to totally immerse yourself into the sprit of the Camargue than this?! An absolute dreamy bohemian cabin. I haven’t try it myself yet but it’s on top of my travel bucket list and I just can’t wait to experience it!

A bit of history:
The gardian houses used to be the homes of the farm workers in the Camargue in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. They were made of local plants materials. The one that are in the city right now are not the original ones as they were destroyed by the German army during the World War Two.

IMG_2076– HOTEL MÉDITERRANÉE (website) : 4 Rue Frédéric Mistral
Prices: 50-110€/night, breakfast: 7,50€

This lovely hotel is a bit like our second home, as we stay there every time we visit and we never get tired of it as each room is differentThe best part of the stay is the breakfast served on the flourish indoor patio and the kindness of the owners.

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WHERE TO EAT/DRINK

IMG_1989-LA CASITA (website)3 Rue Espelly

Our favorite restaurant in Les Saintes. They serve fresh and local produce cook on the plancha. You should definitely book a table if you want to eat there as it’s always full. And this no surprise as the food is devine and the welcoming very friendly and warm. Highly recommended!

 

IMG_2038– BISTROT CHEZ FANNEU (website)6 Place des Remparts

A lovely bistrot where we love to come for lunch after a swim in the sea to enjoy a fresh salad and sipping on a smoothie while listening to some great music.

 

IMG_2206– AMBIANCE TAPAS (website)9 rue Capitaine Fouque

Best tapas place in town! A family owned restaurant who serves a Spanish cuisine made with fresh and local produce. The eggplant with honey are to die for not to mention the delicious home-made sangria.

 

IMG_7694-2– CAFÉ OPIDUM  (website) : 11 Rue Capitaine Fouque

The perfect place to have lunch on the go or your morning coffee while watching the hustle and bustle of the street. Their speciality is crepes and the orange blossom one is so damn good! It used to be a decoration shop so the set up it’s stunning and the owners are very friendly and they do have great taste in music too!

 

IMG_1987– LA BODEGA KAHULA (website) : Corner of Rue de la République and rue Jean Roche

Such a nice place to have a drink and enjoy a flamenco or a Cuban concert in the lovely patio.

 

IMG_1945EL CAMPO (website) : 13 Rue Victor Hugo

I never managed to go there as it’s always full and you have to book in advance but this place is quite an icon in Les Saintes. What brings you here is the special atmosphere of the place, the lovely open-air patio and the flamenco music. Recommended for a drink!

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WHAT TO DO

IMG_2091– BEACHES

Holidays wouldn’t be complete without chilling and sunbathing on the beach! We usually go to the one at the end of the town which is very quiet and actually more beautiful than than the one located in the city center. The best spot in town to catch the sunset at the end of day.

 

IMG_8547-2– HORSE-RIDING:

Such a fun activity and a great way to discover the wild of the Camargue. There are a few companies operating tours around town, the best way is to go to the visitor center to find out everything about it.

 

IMG_7245– ORNITHOLOGICAL PARK (website): RD 570, 13460 Stes Maries de la mer
Operating Hours:
Oct-March 10am-18pm April-Sept 9am-19pm / Prices: 7.50€ adult / 5€ child

This park is the ideal site to discover and observe the birds of the Camargue in their natural habitat. The park offers a trail of 3km that allows you to freely wander down this vast area of 60 hectares.

 

IMG_8569-2CRUISES (website):
Operating from March to October / Prices : Adult 12€ / Child 6€

Such a fun and exotic activity. One of my favorite! Enjoy a cruise of an hour and half on Le petit Rhône river all the way up to le bac du savage. You will be guided by the funny comments of the captain, observe wildlife and fauna and have a quick stop halfway for a presentation of a herd of horses and bulls with its Gardian.
There are a few companies that offer tours, I tried two of them, and my favorite was LE TIKI. Le Tiki is an original sternwheeler so that means it goes really slow but it’s very authentic. If you prefer to go faster and don’t want to drive out of the city to catch the TIKI, you can go along the pier and embark on one of the few companies that are there.

 

IMG_2058– VISIT THE CHURCH ROOF TOP (website):
Price : 2€

A great way to have a panoramic view of the town. We found it very relaxing and peaceful to sat on the very top of the roof and

 

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WHERE/WHAT TO SHOP

IMG_2069MARKETS

When: Monday and Friday from 8am to 1pm.
Where: Avenue de la République, Place des gitans.

SPECIALITIES

You should definitely bring a beautiful pair of “Camarguaise” boots from your trip to the Saintes-Maries.

IMG_2066– LE GARDIAN (website) : 9 Rue Victor Hugo
You will find an amazing choice of cowboy and Camarguaise boots decorated with a lot of turquoise and skull head.

IMG_2203– SITTING BULL : 25 Rue Victor Hugo
This shop offers a great range of native American and cowboy goods. I bought two beautiful leather fringe bags there that I can’t stop wearing and at the very affordable price!

– DECORUM (website) : 10 rue capitaine Fouque

– LES COULEURS DE CAMARGUE : 3 place Poratalet

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TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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