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La Camargue

(in Occitan Provençal: [kaˈmaʀgɔ], Camarga according to classic norm or Camargo according to Mistralian norm) is the marshy area formed by the Rhône delta.

It is 145,300 ha of land in the South of France, located between the two main distributaries of the Rhône delta and the Mediterranean sea. It extends eastward to the plaine de la Crau, westward to Aigues-Mortes, and northward to Beaucaire. It consequently covers the departements of Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard.

It can be divided into 3 different areas:

  • the Petite Camargue (little Camargue) west of the Petit-Rhône,
  • the Grande Camargue (great Camargue), bounded by the two distributaries of the Rhône,
  • and the Plan du Bourg, east of the Grand-Rhône.

In its centre is the étang du Vaccarès, the part that extends along the sea is surrounded by salt marshes.
The Camargue is essentially located within the communes of Arles, making it the biggest commune in Metropolitan France, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and Salin-de-Giraud.
This region has two distinct parts: the north with mainly agricultural land and the south with its marshes and salt water lagoons that form a specific ecosystem.
The flora of this ecosystem mainly consists of glasswort and halophytic plants (that is, plants adapted to grow in saline conditions) such as sea lavender.

Camargue rice field

It is also a fertile breeding ground for horses and bulls, rice cultivation, and salt production (salt marshes).
Its unique flora and fauna led to its natural reserve designation for 13,117 hectares (1927) and the status of National Regional Park for 30,000 hectares (1970).
Annual evaporation is more substantial than rainfall, the river contributes the difference and prevents the region from being burned by the salt.

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