We set off to cycle the Digue a la Mer, a dike built in the 19th century to cut the delta off from the sea. A 20km walking and cycling track runs along its length from Stes Maries de la Mer to the lighthouse at La Gochelle, now automated and still used to guide the fishing and tourist boats.
It really is a fabulous track and footpaths cut down to a couple of lovely sandy beaches, there are a few small areas where the sand has blown across the path and you need to get off and push your bike. We carried on past the lighthouse for about another mile taking a right hand turn in the hope of ending up on the beach but the beach was not easily accessible from the track and instead we were feasted upon by the mosquitoes and other flesh biting insects! You get a really good feel for the Camargue along the track and there are plenty of flamingos to be seen and if you are a keen bird watcher, I am sure you will recognise many more species. There is also beautiful red heather that in places really carpets the marshes. The total distance we cycled was just over 18 miles.
We spent the afternoon resting on the beach in front of the aire and cooling off in the water. In the evening we took a walk into the town of Stes Maries de la Mer for a drink and a bite to eat. Moules et frites pour moi!
We can highly recommend this aire at Stes Maries de la Mer, N43⁰27.222’ E004⁰26.231’. At the time of staying it was the weekend and it did get full up but has great facilities, is close to the town and straight out onto the Digue a la Mer cycle path., which if you have the energy, you can cycle way past the lighthouse all the way to Salin du Giraud. It is manned between 8.30am and 5.30pm so if you arrive between those times you will pay on the gate and the services will be available to use but if you arrive after 5.30pm, the guy does not arrive until the next morning to take the money for that day. It was €12 per night.