It is very rare that we travel to the same destination twice, there is so much for us to see across the world that it doesn’t seem like the best use of our annual leave to revisit areas we have already explored however when we were tasked with arranging a holiday with grandparents the Carmargue ticked most boxes.
On our first visit we had loved the Carmargue in the south of France, charmed by the landscape, the people and the weather (although this didn’t entirely go to plan on our last visit!) not to mention the lashings of fresh moules-frites.
One of the pulls to get us to return, aside from the short flight (the grandparents do not travel as well as our children) and the familiarity that is a benefit on a shorter holiday – was the sheer volume of things to do with children, without having to spend a fortune or travel for miles.
Below are our top things to do in the Carmargue, we stayed near to Grau du Roi, a lesser known seaside town on the Mediterranean coast. For more details of the trip and the area, head over to our family holiday in the Carmargue post.
Horse riding in the Carmargue
The Camargue is brimming with beautiful horses, they are an ancient breed, considered by many to be one of the oldest breeds in the world. These majestic creatures are available to ride, from one of the many well tended stables along the Route de l´Espiguette near le Grau du Roi. For the youngest of riders many of the stables offer short pony treks within their grounds. Ted, our daughter is 5 and was underwhelmed at the thought of trekking in a loop, so I enquired with El Rauncho about alternative options. To Ted’s delight they offered a duel saddle ride, into the wetlands of the national park. We enjoyed a hour at the easy pace of our beautiful horses. Our son (7) was granted his own small horse, tethered to our brilliant guide Sarah’s horse and myself and Ted rode tandem on the back of our own white Camargue beauty. We are by no means experienced riders and at times the journey felt a little daunting, but as flamingoes soared over our heads and as we manoeuvred (with more luck than judgement) our horses around the hatchings of black winged stilts, any worries I had disappeared. It was a truly amazing, private and peaceful experience, for around £50. If you are more experienced or have older children you can also venture on the the beaches and trek through the sea on your horse, maybe we will save that for next time!
Kayaking under the Pont Du Gard
The Pont Du Gard is the oldest existing aqueduct in Europe. Its situated in the centre of parklands. Its easy to park up, pay the entrance fee and walk to and over the bridge, and is in fact exactly what the grandparents who joined us for one of our trips decided to do. We felt this option may prove to be a little boring for the children, so instead opted to see the aqueduct from another angle. We headed to Natu Rando for a kayaking adventure. We left our hire car in the Natu Rando base (and our eventual final destination) and hopped into their complementary shuttle bus, which took us to our starting point and our shared family Kayak. The staff were all great, speaking enough English to guide us on a little technique and any vital information. Life jackets were fitted and oars provided…thankfully, and we were off.
Launching was anything but elegant, and we almost had a casualty in the form of a runaway flip flop, determined to make its get away down the river, but we soon got the hang of it (and caught up with the flipflop).
The scenery is absolutely amazing, I felt we were travelling down a Canadian river, ready to be greeted with a tumbling white water section at any moment, thankfully for us newbies the river is fairly slow and steady – with only the odd section picking up speed to challenge us mildly and get the heart pumping. Its completely manageable with children (at the time of year we travelled, May).
The highlight of the 2 hour journey is the Pont Du Gard itself, as it looms over the river and you gain a view of its sheer size from a unique perspective, travelling directly underneath it.
This is undoubtable our favourite Carmargue activity with children. Once again you also have a option to upgrade the activity with older children, with longer stretches of river being available and a combination tour, whereby you can hire a bicycle to reach your launch site before travelling down river on your kayak.
Enjoy the seaside town of Grau du Roi
The quaint, and some what old fashioned holiday resort on the Mediterranean coast. Enjoy a day playing on the beach, build sandcastles until your heart is content before you enjoying an ice cream on the wide promenade. Make sure you take time to enjoy the vintage carousel too – a staple feature in most french holiday resorts and market towns.
Be an archer for the day
I’m not sure if all children are the same, but take them to a castle and my children want nothing more than to climb as high as possible and pretend to take aim through the narrow stone gaps, taking aim and firing their pretend arrows at the streets below. We spent the day in the walled town of Aigues Mortes, exploring the battlements, looking down on the town below and spending far too much in the gift shop!
Take in the sights and smells of a traditional French market
Nothing heightens the senses more than the colours, sights and sounds of a French market. We travelled to Arles for their early morning market, which sprawls through the ancient streets. Although busy, the markets are pedestrian only and a great opportunity to allow the children to try out their French. Allow them to order their own breakfast of pastries, make the most of loading up with fresh fruit and taking in the moment with a well deserved coffee. Be warned, the caged birds and rabbits may make for sad viewing and you should always arrive early as by 12 midday, it will be as of the market was never there at all.
Go on… pay the Carmargue a visit with children!
There is so much to see and do in the Carmargue, the above suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg – so go explore!