7. From Avignon: Camargue
After a 1-hour drive through rice fields and brackish ponds, during which your tour guide will introduce you to the peculiarities of the Camargue, you will be dropped off at the beautiful Bird Park of Pont de Gau (admission ticket included). Created by a family of nature lovers in 1949, the Bird Park is situated in the heart of the regional nature park of the Camargue, which is how we call the delta of the Rhône river. There's no better place to observe the iconic bird of the region. An easy walk along marshes and ponds, following a well-signed footpath, will allow you to get very close to pink flamingos, that cohabit here with hundreds of other bird species. The Camargue is also a country of traditions and history! Meet your driver again and head to the charming coastal town of Saintes Maries de la Mer. Discover the legend that led to the construction of the impressive fortified church Our Lady from the Sea, known in France for the celebrations it holds for each Mary's feast, in May and October. The feast held in May draws large numbers of Roma Catholics to the town for a week. They come here to worship the relics of Sarah, their patron saint. Don't miss a visit to the interiors of the church, dating back to the beginning of the 11th century, and enjoy a panoramic view from the sentry walk on the roof (4€/adult). Afterwards head to the beach, where you can go for a relaxing walk along the promenade, where reproductions of Van Gogh's paintings are exhibited, or for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Don't forget to taste some local specialties, like seafood, bull meat and rice (lunch not included). After lunch, meet your guide again and continue the journey through wild landscapes and picturesque farms, ranches and salt marshes. Your tour guide will stop along the way to observe and photograph Camargue horses and bulls. These animals are a fundamental element of the region's culture, where it is not unusal to come across a bull race or a folklore event involving horses. Before getting back to Avignon, discover Aigues Mortes, one of the highlights of the region, a wonderfully preserved walled city dating back in the 13th century. Funded by King Louis IX in 1240 as a starting base for the Crusades, Aigues Mortes comes out from nowhere among salt pans and rice fields. Its massive rampart shelters narrow paved streets and small squares, where you can do some shopping and taste delicious local desserts. You can also opt for a walk on the sentry walk atop the rampart, which is the best way to spot the neighboring salt marshes.