Tour The Gorgeous French Ranch Lands You Probably Had No Clue Existed
Located in southern France, south of Arles and west of Marseille, the Camargue is a little-known region that's full of marshy wetlands teeming with wildlife.
Here, cowboys — called gardians — ride white horses on the beaches and herd black cattle, while flamingos wade in the shallow marshy waters.
The Camargue is known for its beautiful white horses, which are considered to be one of the oldest breeds in the world.
There are no fences in this region and the horses run free along the coastline.
But they're not running wild. The horses are tended to by French cowboys called gardians. Today, there are female gardians as well.
Dating back to the early 16th century, the gardians are a professional order of cowboys who protect and care for the herds of horses and black bulls that roam around the region.
They're one of the oldest groups of cowboys in the world, and their ancestors were probably the first American cowboys. Back in the 1600s, these gardians sailed to New Orleans, where they rode through the bayous of Louisiana and Texas, rounding up cattle.
In addition to tending to the horses, the gardians herd black bulls.
Many of these animals are used for bullfighting. However, unlike Spain's version of bullfighting, in which the bulls are killed for sport, no blood is shed in these bullfights. The objective in the course camarguaise bullfights is to snatch a rosette from the head of a young bull.
However, the bulls that are not fit for the arena are sold for meat.
Unfortunately, there are few gardians left. Many have retired and young people seem to be deterred from entering since it's a tough profession and it doesn't pay very well.
Source: National Geographic
Besides cattle, tourism is one of the biggest industries here. The best way to see the region is on horseback, which allows people to explore areas that would be otherwise inaccessible. The horses are bred to swim through the waters and trudge through the marshy wetlands.
The Camargue is also home to more than 400 species of birds, but the flamingo is undoubtedly the most iconic bird in the region.
Most flamingos hang out at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Grau, which also has nice walking trails.
The region is also home to several charming historic villages and towns, like Saintes Maries de la Mer.
And Aigues-Mortes, a medieval walled city which oozes history.
Now see where else you should visit in the country.