Situated in Camargue, this French commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, on the Mediterranean coast, is a major pilgrimage site and a popular seaside destination.
The municipality of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer is the third largest in France after Arles and Val-Cenis and therefore offers an immense variety of breathtaking landscapes. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Provence.
History of Saintes Maries de la mer
Capital of the Camargue region, this former medieval village, with its landscape and alleys, bears witness to the city's glorious past, with for example its magnificient 11th century church. Like most Provençal villages, the history of the Saintes Maries de la Mer is very vibrant and will delight history lovers who came to spend a holiday in Provence.
The origins of the town seem to be from the fourth century. In 513, Césaire was commissioned by Pope Symmacus to represent him in Gaulle. He then created a religious building in Les Saintes and the village later took the name of Saintes Maries de la Barque. Then followed the successive arrivals of the Vikings and the Saracens who killed the Bishop of Arles during their attack.
It was only in 1838 that the village took the name of Saintes Maries de la Mer.
In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh stayed there and was inspired by the landscapes.
Then, in 1892, the railway line linking Arles to Les Saintes was inaugurated. It is also called the " Petit Train ".
Traditions and festivities
An excursion to Saintes Maries de la Mer is like a immersion in a place steeped in history and tradition.
Every year, several events take place at Saintes Maries de la Mer. Pilgrimage tours are an essential attraction of the municipality and remind us of its past as well as its strong attachment to Christian culture.
- The Gypsy pilgrimage
- The Pilgrimages of the Saints
- The December Pilgrimage
A must-see in Saintes Maries de la Mer
If you are visiting Provence, you definitely should visit the Provençal villages; and the village of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer must be at the top of the list.
- The fortified church dating from the 11th century which will remind you of the fortifications of Fort Saint Jean
- The museum and the house of the Marquis Baroncelli located in the former town hall
- The Château d'Avignon and its estate
- The arenas of Saintes Maries de la Mer built in the early 1930s
- The cross and the Mas de Méjanes on the banks of the pond of Vaccarès