Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer Travel Blog› entry 10 of 12 › view all entries
While staying in Arles, we took a bus to the closest beach which just so happened to be Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer. It is the main town in the Camargue, salt marshes that are home to 400 species of birds including the greater flamingo.
The name of the town comes from the three Marys (Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome, & Mary Jacobe) who are believed to be the first witnesses to the empty tomb at the resurrection of Jesus. After the Crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Salome, Mary Jacobe, and Mary Magdalene were cast adrift in a boat that arrived off the coast of what is now France. Saintes-Maries is also the location for an annual Roma gypsy pilgrimage in honor of Saint Sarah also known as Sara-la-Kali (Sara the black).
A beautiful village on the Mediterranean sea, but definitely a tourist area. Beware of the gypsies....they have a tendency to corner people trying to sell Saint Sarah pendants.
The game of petanque is played quite regularly in an open areas of the town. Pétanque is a form of boules where the goal is to throw metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet. It's similar to the bocce ball game. The name is derived from the term pieds tanqués, which in the Marseilles dialect of French means "stuck feet", because in Pétanque the feet have to remain fixed together within a (small) circle.