Photo essay: Ramsar study tour to the Camargue, 2001
The Camargue in southern France, part of the delta of the Rhône river into the Mediterranean, is one of Europe's greatest wetlands, and certainly one of its best-managed wetlands. No wonder, then, that Ramsar Bureau staff and friends should wish to investigate what's really going on down there.
An extremely tasty dinner in a semi-ramshackle fresh seafood restaurant serving traditional Camargue specialities, apparently semi-legally, where Ramsar staff and like-minded wetland enthusiasts chewed and swilled until a fire broke out in nearby caravans and everybody could think of some other peninsula they'd rather be on soon.
Sunday morning: ferry across the Rhône, Ramsar staff and friends making like this is some big deal, crossing a river, oh wow.
A Sunday visit to the Marais de Vigueirat protected area on the eastern side of the Rhône -- it begins somewhat ominously: "BULLS, close the gate please"!!
The Marais de Vigueirat boasts superb wetland education facilities, and Jean-Laurent Lucchesi demonstrates the electronic Webcam facilities (teensy cameras out there in the nests, you can watch them hatch while standing right here next to the Coke machine) and leads the Bureau staff on a tour of the educational learn-by-doing nature path through part of the wetland. Ammy Gillesberg, Ramsar friend from IUCN, left.
This display is meant to let you experience what it's like to part reeds in a swamp. Well, okay. Some of the other interactive stations seem to reach more deeply into our daily lives than that one does.
Time to go home. Dr Salathe explains the complex management situation at the Crau Mediterranean steppe area above the Camargue, then leads us all along to Les Baux medieval tourist village and a restorative pause whilst Dr Keith Kennedy (pink shirt) finessed some fine wine purchases, and then a tortuous circuit out onto the French autoroute for a thunderstorm-filled trip home to Geneva. Exceptional weekend all the way round.
We've also got lots of tourist photos of the famous Camargue white horses, and of course plenty of shots of the famous bulls, and gazillions more of those flamingos looking morosely down hoping dinner will wander along without noticing all the looming flamingos. Hundreds of megabytes worth, but bandwidth problems intervene, so the Ramsar public will have to be content with what's here. In any case, Camargue white horses look like white horses, so we wouldn't be helping you out very much by putting them up here.