The Camargue is the region in one of the largest river deltas in Europe. From Arles the river Rhône splits into the Grand Rhône and Petit Rhône. The area in and around here is the Camargue. Largely a protected area, it is flat, with almost as much water as land. Wildlife is abundant, paticularly birds and wild white horses. Salt is produced in great quantity from the vast number of saltflats and highly regarded locally. There are only two small towns, Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Aigues-Mortes. The terrain only allows for a few minor roads. Travel by boat might be more interesting, but the opportunity seems limited except for a trip from St Maries up the Petit Rhône for an hour or two.
By boat: The Canal crosses with ease the Gard part of the Camargue along a thirty km stretch that links the Rhône to the Mediterranean at Le Grau-du-Roi. It is a natural waterway in a landscape where specific flora and fauna dwell together in harmony.
No need to be a good sailor, it's enough to climb aboard one of the comfortable river boats and let oneself be carried for an afternoon. Or you might like to rent a small barge with family or friends, and spend an adventurous few days in the reeds. Or perhaps board a hotel-barge for a day or two and take a guided water tour of the Gard.
When staying in a touristy city like Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, it can be difficult to find a place for a good dinner with anything beyond fried chips and over-grilled meat.
However, if you have a car, here are some tips for finding a good place serving local cuisine. Internet connection can help in your research. You should look for:
Restaurants out of town, even in remote locations. Minus the convenience factor of an in-town location, many countryside restaurants rely on local customers and fidelity to regional cuisine which attracts enough clientele despite remote location.
Menu that lists mostly or exclusively local specialties (see the list above)
Ferme Auberge (farm inn), an official government program. Members usually show good fidelity to local cuisine, though limited menu selection.
Membership in Conservatoire des Cuisines de Camargue, society for the preservation of true Camargue cuisine
Table d'hote (guest table), a kind of intimate restaurant. Often a bed and breakfast which prepares dinner with advance reservation. Don't confuse it with table d'hotes in a regular restaurant in a big city where it is more for solo diners to share a communal table--and more common at lunch.
Ask at the local tourist information office. They are not allowed to give opinions, but you can ask what restaurants serve local dishes in the list above or if there are any table d'hote or ferme auberge in the region.
Here are some restaurants that look promising per above recommendations as of Sept 2010 (although not tried hands-on by Wikitravelers yet):
Le Flamant Rose, ☎ 04 90 97 10 18 (email@example.com, fax: 04 90 97 12 47), . Member of a society for the preservation of true Camargue cuisine. Local specialties, plus a remote location.edit
Le Pont des Bannes, . Very elegant. Hits every major local specialty and has almost nothing from outside the region on the menu.Dinner menus: starter+main+dessert: €43; starter+main: €36; main+dessert: 31; starter+dessert: 17. edit
Mas de Peint, . Table d’hote, by reservation only.Breakfast: €22; lunch: €42; dinner: €55. edit
La Tour du Cazeau, Arles The Sambuc, ☎ 04 90 97 21 6 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 04 90 97 20 70), . Ferme-auberge, by reservation only.Dinner menu: €25. edit
Le Tamaris, 13 rue Victor Hugo, Le Cailar, ☎ +33 (0)4 66 88 07 91 (email@example.com), . The most rustic – most likely to prepare food you absolutely cannot get outside of the Camargue. The display of their dishes, remote location, and menu selection suggests it is probably a worthwhile experience.Set menu: €13..16. edit