FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
WF awards

France’s Surprising Camargue for Families

by Barbara Rogers

Aug 29, 2019

Stillman Rogers

Destinations / Europe

Overshadowed by the glamour of the French Riviera and the historic attractions of nearby Arles and Avignon, France’s Camargue is largely overlooked by tourists. But this unusual region offers a lot to attract nature lovers and families tired of cities and Roman ruins.

 

The Camargue is a vast area in southern France where the Rhone River divides to form a delta before entering the Mediterranean Sea. Its marshes, lakes, lagoons and meadows are an important nesting habitat for birds as well as a major stop in the spring and fall migrations, making it one of Europe’s most popular destinations for birdwatching.

Camargue Black bulls at lunch. Photo: Stillman Rogers

But you don’t need to be a dedicated birder to enjoy the wildlife here, especially in the company of an expert nature guide carrying a high-powered telescope and binoculars. Children are mesmerized watching birds that seem near enough to touch and getting close-up looks at the region’s famous black bulls. But it’s the flocks of pink flamingoes that will really charm the kids, with their elegant long legs and prissy way of walking through the water.

 

On our recent day in the Camargue with guide Christophe Giraud from the Bureau des Guides Naturalistes, we not only watched bulls and flamingoes, but hiked through the watery ecosystem of the Vigueirat Marshes, a natural reserve tourists can only access with a guide.

Bird watching with a naturalist, The Camargue Wildlife Park, France. Photo: Stillman Rogers

Christophe stopped to point out bright, rainbow-colored European bee eaters and we listened to the song of cuckoos as we walked. Dragonflies in brilliant shades of red and blue darted in the reeds beside the trail. Our destination was a bird blind hidden amid the lakeside foliage, where we could spy unseen on the wildlife around us. None of us was especially interested in birds before, but we all gained a new understanding of why birders get so passionate about the hobby.

 

We learned a bit more about the region’s natural and human history with a stop at the Mas du Pont de Rousty, where the excellent Musée de la Camargue fills a former sheep barn with interactive exhibits, videos and displays, including one on Camargue’s own version of bullfighting, a contest of skill where the bull is not injured. Here we learned the Camargue is the site of a famous annual gypsy pilgrimage in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

 

Throughout the Camargue there are wildlife viewing platforms, but the one here is especially appealing to kids as it is in the shape of a ship. A marked trail leads from the museum through the reed beds and rice paddies, a signature feature of the Camargue.

The Camargue Wildlife Natural Park. Photo: Stillman Rogers

These and the miles of saltpans are the most prominent human-made features of the landscape. Outside the village of Salin de Giraud, our guide had permission to drive us through these fields of salt crystalizing in the sunlight at the edge of the Mediterranean. Beyond rises a mountain of salt, and as far as we could see were nothing but salt fields. We stopped to pick up crystals from the edges, perfect half-inch cubes of salt. It was in the lagoons where the salt pans met the sea that we found the biggest flocks of flamingos and, again, Christophe set up the telescope so we could watch them close-up.

 

There are plenty of active experiences for families in the Camargue. In addition to miles of flat cycling trails, there are horse farms where all ages can learn to ride or go for pony treks. Canal boat cruises leave from Grau-du-Roi for views of the salt pans, marshes and flamingos, and a traditional paddle wheeler cruises the PetitRhone. Or your family can explore the waterways of the Camargue on a self-drive cabin cruiser.

#WhereverFamily

Insta Feed
Hotels
Jul 8, 2024

Velaa Private Island’s Kids’ Week to Feature an Astronaut on Property

Take your family travel to Velaa Private Island this summer! As part of an annual tradition, Aug. 5 to 11, Velaa Private Island hosts Kids Week, an educational celebration of summer break, completely free of charge to guests 4–12 years of age.

United Continues Its Global Expansion

United Airlines keeps soaring to new heights, recently announcing another expansion of its leading global route network. The airline added new non-stop flights between Newark (EWR) and Marrakesh (RAK), Morocco; Tokyo (NRT) and Cebu (CEB), Philippines; and Houston (IAH) and Medellin (MDE), Colombia. That’s not all: United also plans to increase flights to popular worldwide destinations including Hong Kong (HKG); Seoul (INC), South Korea; and Porto (OPO), Portugal. Following the recent agreement to increase flights between the U.S. and Chinese governments, the airline now adds four weekly flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai (PVG).

Cruises
Jul 8, 2024

Margaritaville at Sea’s “Islander” Makes Maiden Voyage

Family travelers will delight in Margaritaville at Sea’s Islander, which set sail on her inaugural voyage in June 2024, departing from Port Tampa Bay to Cozumel, Mexico, on a four-night journey. The ship boasts 12 decks accommodating 2,650 passengers. The ship will now continue to sail four- and five-night cruises to Key West and Mexico, before venturing to Belize, Jamaica and Grand Cayman on six- and seven-night itineraries in 2026.

Hotels
Jul 4, 2024

Peak Pursuits Adventures Awaits from East West Hospitality

East West Hospitality offers family travelers exciting experiences in California and Colorado with its new Peak Pursuits program. With help from East West Hospitality’s expert Guest Experience team, guests may customize the curated itineraries to best fit their needs.

Travel to Madrid with the Family and Find Activities to Keep Everyone Happy!

If life were a city, it’d be Madrid. Sometimes it can be quite the challenge to find a destination just right for the whole family. Different tastes and ages make agreeing on where to go seem impossible. Unless, of course, the destination you have in mind is Madrid. With all of its new immersive museums, musicals, soccer stadiums and monuments like Royal Palace, anyone who suggests coming to the capital is sure to get a unanimous yes!

Slideshow
Jul 2, 2024

7 Canadian National Parks for Family Travel

It’s time to start dreaming of your next family trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through these Canadian national parks with us.