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Cruise Day 4 - The Camargue and Arles

Nature Over Art

View Paris and Vegan Rhône Cruise on Lisa Hills's travel map.

The Swiss Emerald set out in the wee hours of morning to get us from Viviers to Arles by midafternoon. The cruise director arranged little events on the boat for passengers during these longer periods of day sailing. For instance, there was a cooking demonstration once, a presentation on other upcoming cruises, an opportunity to talk to the captain in the wheelhouse, etc. The only structured on-boat activity I ever took part in, though (besides eating), was morning yoga. This yoga was more of the airy-fairy school than anything else, but at least it got me up before 8:00 a.m.

There were more cormorants along the river.

And somebody's castle.

The two excursions offered on this day conflicted with one another, so you had to make that hard choice of whether to tour artsy Arles or go for a nature hike in the wild Camargue. I had just been reading about the Camargue before the excursions were posted, so that excited me more. Sorry, Van Gogh.

The Camargue is the federally protected wetland at the extreme south of France, where the Rhône turns into a delta. It is home to a vast array of bird species and a herd of (it turns out) semi-wild horses.

It started to rain right when we arrived at the park, but our group stoutly insisted on the "long loop" hike anyway. We got to a covered bridge and spied on faraway waterfowl and horses. (Hint: Camargue horses are white.)

The rain conveniently had stopped by the time we ventured on. I saw a small, fast bird with a long tail which I later learned was a long-tailed tit. I did not manage a picture of it. Lots of pure old natural beauty, though.

When we got far enough around the loop, lo and behold, here were the horses again, closer up. Camargue horses are smaller than your normal horse breeds, the guide said. I had thought they were truly wild, and that we might not even see any, but their location in the park is actually closely managed to control how much they damage any given area of plant life. They also get to over-winter on a ranch somewhere, and participate in a breeding program, which sounds pretty non-wild if you ask me. But they are exciting to see, truly feral or not.

After the hiking loop, while waiting for the bus back at the nature center, I wandered off into a nearby clearing and discovered this:

It's huge. What is it, you ask?

This story of the teleported DUCK went on for several more paragraphs beyond what I photographed. I now regret not capturing it all.

I did look up this landmark on the internet, but won't spoil that joy for the rest of you.

Cruising in the bus back to town, someone called, "Horses!" And it was true.

What we saw from the bus produced yet more evidence that these horses are shilling for the man.
Being herded, I swear.

The sky was great, though, as twilight fell.

The teleported BUS.

Posted by Lisa Hills 16:21 Archived in France Tagged horses arles camargue cormorants tour_bus teleported_duck

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