Of kings and dead waters

Author: fraise

Saturday 27 April 2013, in La France, Travel

The small town I’ll be visiting soon is the Camarguais fishing village named Le Grau du Roi, literally, “the king’s bayou”. During the Crusades, its sister city to the north, fortified Aigues Mortes, was a royal port linked to Grau du Roi and the sea by canals built through the salty marshes. “Aigues” comes from the Latin aqua, a word you probably recognize, and “mortes” is the feminine plural form of the adjective mort: Dead Waters. At the end of the 16th century, the Rhone river flooded the Repausset marsh, forming a new entry from the sea that was used to build a permanent canal, causing Le Grau du Roi to gain in importance. This same canal still exists today.

Grau du Roi has since grown from being a major fishing port and viticultural area to also being a major tourism destination, as one of France’s well-known beach resort towns. While outside of France, it’s mainly included as part of the attractions of the Camargue region, within France, it’s rather well recognized on its own, which is one reason my company chose it as a destination this spring. It also continues to be the second most important fishing port on the French Mediterranean coast, the largest being the Grand port maritime de Marseille, and the largest in France at Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the Pas-de-Calais département. The most major contribution towards Grau du Roi’s tourism development came with the extension of the Nîmes – Grau du Roi railway line all the way to the fishing village, in 1909. The first part of the line was built in 1845.

While the marshes between Aigues Mortes and Grau du Roi are home to no fewer than 340 species of birds, the most iconic are their pink flamingoes! I’ll be taking that same railway line from Nîmes to Grau du Roi, and am very much looking forward to the sights along the way. France’s national railway company, the SNCF, also promotes tourism in the area, a ticket costing only a single euro. I’ll also have the opportunity to ride an even older means of transportation, and one that also represents Camargue: the Camargue horse. We’ll have a two-hour ride along the beach at sunset.

For more on visiting Grau du Roi, visit their Office de Tourisme’s website.

4 responses to “Of kings and dead waters”

  1. hotel Says:

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  2. fraise Says:

    Usually I delete spam that gets through my filters, but “you really realize what you’re speaking approximately” is kind of cute. And self-defeating when requesting a link exchange (it, the link, has been removed).

  3. Adella Says:

    Hi, Fraise,

    I pop in every so often just to read about what you are up to. I’ve been checking out your blog for several years and enjoying your life of creativity and adventure. When I lived in France I wasn’t half as adventuresome as you are! Bravo to you!


  4. fraise Says:

    Thanks Adella :) it’s always nice to hear from visitors! I just got back from the trip and will be posting more soon. It was gorgeous, the Camargue is a beautiful area.

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