There is a special atmosphere in the Camargue. This walk is along water all the way, so no horses or bulls grassing about like in the interior. It’s the large and graceful flamingos that set the pace along this walk, except for along the beach up to the “shanty town” of Beauduc. Here is an eldorado for surfing as well as kite surfing etc. and Beauduc looks quite respectable compared to the heydays of the 1980’s and 90’s. The walk is really ideal for cycling (there are a fair number of cyclists around) because of the monotony of the landscape.
You could actually drive all the way to Beauduc, but the road is terrible at times and takes about 30 minutes longer to drive each way (from Arles). The road to Beauduc starts at the ruins of Tourvieille, but you need to access the road from the north (D36C) as it’s blocked directly out from Salin de Giraud, just after Faraman.
From Arles, follow signs for Camargue and Salin de Giraud (D36). Turn right at Peaudure (6 km after le Sambuc) and drive on for 4 km. At the T-junction here, turn right. At the next T-junction (2,5 km) turn left. After almost 4 km along the road here, you are by the north end of Etang du Fangassier (a good half an hour’s drive from Arles), and you drive on to the dike for a short while till you see signs for the parking on each side of the dike.
You start the walk here, first by continuing another 10 minutes southwards to the first cross roads. Here you take the road to the right, marked Phare de la Gacholle. After about 35 minutes walking along this road going north-westerly direction, you have the next junction. Here is a parking lot and you turn left here for the sea unless you want to spend an extra 30 minutes for a better view of the lighthouse straight ahead (15 minutes each way).
You will reach the beach 30 minutes from the parking lot, and you can now follow the beach southwards towards Beauduc or alternatively take one of the inland roads. After about 50 minutes (just under 3 hours from the car) walking along the sandy beach (find the hard patches), you reach a long barrier of wooden poles right across the beach to prevent cars from going into the area you are walking. Here you see some of the activity going on at Beauduc; mainly kite surfing.
The return to the car is about 1h 45min from this barrier, and you start by crossing the barrier and turn left inland, following the same general direction as the barrier, and often most easily by following the car tracks. After about 10 minutes you will reach a large car park (not marked as such) with a small road going off into the woods straight south. This is the road for the actual Beauduc, and the road to take if you want to explore the coast line south of Beauduc.
The road back to the car is simply to follow the main road out from Beauduc, walking in north-easterly direction from this car park. You will soon pass a large garbage container and continue on in the same general direction. After about 35 minutes from the car park, you will meet a T-junction. Here, car traffic has to turn right (south), but you turn left for your car. From here it will take you about 1h along this dike to the car. In April and May lots of flamingos to see on each side of the dike along here.
Duration: 4,5h (including 1h for lunch)
Distance: 16 km.
Ascent: 0 m
Difficulty: Easy (but could be water on tracks and soft sand along the beach)
Start/finish: Etang du Fangassier – the dike at the northern end
Map: IGN Camargue – Alpilles (1:75.000 and 1:25.000)