Camargue is when white horses graze on the left and pink flamingos strengthen through shallow waters on the right. Camargue is also to stomp towards the strong Mistral north wind, or to be blown forward with the same in your back at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour. The extensive swamp landscape in the middle of Provence in the south of France lies in the largest river delta of Western Europe. Discovering this region by bike is pure relaxation. On narrow paths, Provence is beguiling with its scents, as the thyme grows here directly on the wayside.
In this collection, we have divided the route between the vibrant ports of Marseille and Montpellier into seven stages, varying from 30 to 80 kilometres. The journey is therefore also possible with less physical fitness and more breaks for enjoyment. All in all, the tour is very flat and without many metres of altitude difference. The way often leads off the road without asphalting, but with a fantastic panorama. The tour is also suitable for families and a great cycling holiday on the French Mediterranean coast can be conjured out of it. As an ambitious cyclist, you can do more in one day by doing two stages at once.
The Camargue Nature Reserve, unique in its atmosphere and biodiversity, stretches between the two cities. On your way you will encounter picturesque fishing villages, deserted natural sand beaches, shimmering pink salt lakes and countless native flamingos in the wild. The stages end in pretty coastal towns such as Martigues, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or Sète.
In the high season it is advisable to contact the accommodation early. There are numerous campsites, apartments and hotels on the route, which is very well developed for tourism. Another exciting possibility is to take a look away from the tourist accommodation at the network of the Warmshowers cycling community. Staying overnight with locals gives you a completely different view of the places you visit and lets you make great acquaintances.
The starting point Marseille is easy to reach by train from Germany via Paris. So you can take the bikes directly with you and nothing stands in the way of a low-emission, sustainable holiday. At de.oui.sncf/de you can find out about the routes and prices of the French railways. If you book the route from Germany to Paris with a German travel agent, and the route from Paris to Marseille with a French travel agent, you can get away much cheaper. Early booking is also worthwhile. From Montpellier there are numerous connections to Germany via Paris.
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The journey begins in the hip port city of Marseille, which is a worthwhile destination all year round with a mild climate. We recommend that you allow some time to explore the city before you reach the first destination: Martigues.Our first stage of 58 kilometers takes you along the Côte Bleue, the blue coast, out of the big city and offers you great views, picturesque fishing villages, hidden coves, sandy beaches and sea breezes.Let's start with a farewell tour around the old port in Marseille, past the Cathédrale de la Major and continue along the coast. Now you cross the former fishing village of L'Estaque, which has not attracted numerous famous painters for no reason. We recommend you take a break and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. For now it goes up the mountain, through the communities of Le Rove and Ensuès-la-Redonne, so you can enjoy an even better view.After enjoying the descent to the sea, continue along the coast, passing through lovely seaside resorts and enjoying the official cycle route along the sea.After that, it's only about ten kilometers to your first destination, also known as the Venice of Provence. Here you will find many accommodations, whether camping, apartment or host from the bicycle communities.
Surrealistic salt lakes, Etruscan walls, a Celtic-Ligurian oppidum and stranded life dreams will meet you on your stage today. If you can not imagine anything like that, so much the better. On today's track you will hardly make any altitude difference. So you can take one or the other longer stopover and explore the impressive surroundings. The voyage of discovery to the fifth century BC can begin.After about ten kilometers you will arrive between the Étangs, quiet salt waters with an amazing geography. Here the road ends and it continues on trails and trails. The next stops are no less exciting. In the middle of the Forêt de Castillon, two archaeological sites await you.Then you continue to your destination Port-Saint-Louis-Du-Rhône, a tranquil harbor town. At this remote location, there are two exceptional destinations that will complete your tour today.Only three kilometers away you will come to the marina Port Napoleon. Over 1,000 boats are being repaired, wintered or parked on the dry-dock for decades. There are regular auctions of the abandoned boats instead, here has already beaten some a bargain.From the harbor, you come directly to the ViaRhôna, the 700-kilometer Rhoneradweg, which will guide you even more often on your journey. The section leads you to an almost deserted sandy beach. On the track you will meet the local flamingos. Incidentally, his plumage is so pink because of the carotenoids in his diet, because he feeds mainly on small crabs.You can decide for yourself whether to go back to Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône and stay overnight or camp on the beach and enjoy a morning swim before the next stage. However, do not underestimate the Mistral Wind, which blows vigorously from northwest to some days. The Mistral has also left its mark on the landscape. Many trees and shrubs point in its wind direction. Another overnight stay tip are the boats in Port Napoleon, where a berth is occasionally offered via internet platforms.
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Today, the path leads you through the breathtaking scenery of the Camargue. Far away from traffic, you will find extraordinary plant worlds, deserted beaches, salt flowers and tons of flamingos on your journey through the nature reserve. Your destination today is Saint-Maries-De-La-Mer, located in the middle of the salt lakes and pilgrimage place of the Spanish Roma.After warming up for the first few kilometers, a nice surprise awaits you. The ferry to the other side of the Rhône to Salin-de-Giraud is free for cyclists. In Salin-de-Giraud, we recommend that you take the last opportunity to provide you with provisions for today's tour. Civilization you will see again at your milestone goal.For the next 25 kilometers you can expect pure nature, because you drive across the nature reserve of the Camargue. At the lighthouse Phare de la Gacholle you can learn more about the flora and fauna and find a sheltered picnic spot. Just let the lonely landscape work on you. Every place is just right for taking a break, watching nature and feeling the silence.An important note beforehand: there are many mosquito species, of which only a few sting. The mosquitoes are very useful, provide food for dragonflies, swallows and bats and are an important part of biodiversity. For humans, it is rather annoying, so we recommend you to protect yourself with spray and appropriate clothing.Your stage destination Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer is an exciting place, very quiet in autumn and winter, lively in the summer, but at the latest in May it is over with the peace, when thousands make a pilgrimage to the Fête des Gitans. If you plan your trip at this time of the year, you should not miss this impressive procession. But even otherwise, the remote fishing town lures with its charm.
Let yourself be carried on small ways through the hinterland into the world of the Etangs. The stage of only 36 kilometers gives you enough time to explore the exciting landscapes. If you prefer to cycle through, you can also join this stage directly to the previous one and make a short stop in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.Cover yourself in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer with plenty of provisions and water, because there will be no supermarket for the moment.Your way will take you through the home of the Camargue horses, one of the last remaining wild breeds of horses. You can just get off the bike and make friends with one of the beautiful white animals. The horses are perfectly adapted to their habitat and have amazing abilities, so they can, for example, underwater graze by closing their nostrils.Off-road trails take you to Fort de Peccais, a remote historic monument. It is rumored that the fort was named after the Roman engineer Peccatius, who invented the first technique of salt extraction.Salt will help you a lot on your way to Salin d'Aigues Mortes. Every gourmand knows it, the Fleur de Sel, which is won here. The salt pans are excellent for exploring by bike. To marvel at the pink salt lakes is an experience in itself. And it is even possible to climb one of the salt mountains here.Your destination for today is the cozy town of Aigues-Mortes, known for its perfectly preserved city walls. Here you will find numerous accommodations and great views of the pink saline.
Today, only 30 relaxing kilometers are on the program, lined with flamingos, pines, sea and natural sand beach. On top of that, there are wonderful bike paths. If you are motivated then the next stage is best to start with.On the first section you drive along the Etangs and you can see yourself again at the flamingos before heading to the seashore. But before you cycle still a pretty dangling through a pine forest, where you will still encounter one or the other Camargue horse. Then you cross La Grade Moth and get to the coast.The ViaRhôna guides you safely along the coast, with stunning sea views. The natural sandy beach between la Grande Motte and Carnon invites you to take a dip in the ocean waves.Your stage ends in the beautiful Palavas-les-Flots, port city and seaside resort with distinction for excellent environmental quality. Anyone who appreciates freshly caught fish will find it here at the small stalls of the fish market. There are numerous accommodation options and campsites.
From Palavas-les-Flots it is only a stone's throw to Montpellier. But why would you want to miss the great route to Sète, the Venice of the Languedoc, if the route is known to be the destination.Let's start the ride on a beautiful and well-maintained bike path along the Etang du Méjean and Etang de l'Arnel with a view of the flamingos that are strong through the water. Then it's on a small path past the nature reserve de l'Estragnol.You cross the villages of Mireval and Vic-la-Gardiole, where a small stopover to procure provisions. Because then you drive through the pretty grove Bois des Aresquiers, which invites you to a picnic.Would you prefer to stay in the shade of the fir trees, or do you miss the sound of the sea? Alternatively, instead of turning right into the forest, you can continue straight ahead and take the great bike path along the coast.In both cases, you will soon arrive in Sète, which is surrounded by water and a port city criss-crossed by canals. The last highlight for today is one of five lift bridges that will take you to the city center. Now, there is nothing left to explore the bustling city.
Today is your last leg to Montpellier. Because it was so beautiful, you can look forward to a lap of honor around the Etang de Thau. And if you're into delicacies, there's half a mile of the 80 kilometer sports tour, a delicious snack fresh from the Etang.Once out of Sète, a fantastic, ten-kilometer-long bicycle road awaits you. Then it's time for the turn to Marseillan, which looks back on a history up to the high antiquity. Maybe you are lucky and today one of the great markets is taking place.If you have looked around enough in Marseillan, the journey continues along the Etang. You get on a newly created trail that lets you enjoy the landscape to the full without traffic. You now head for Mèze and Bouzigues, both of whom live mainly on one activity: oyster farming. We recommend you to stay in the 1000-soul-village Bouzigues, because here the oystercatchers line up, and you can catch the freshly caught delicacies directly at the producer.With a fantastic voie verte the Etang says goodbye to you, because now it's the last 30 kilometers to Montpellier. On the track you ride almost exclusively on bike paths. From the west you arrive in the metropolis and student city, where for the first time silence with silence and landscape is. Aldstadtgässchen for strolling, a colorful nightlife to debauch, historic monuments that characterize the cityscape, Montpellier has much to offer. Amuse toi bien!