divine [id] had its annual seminar in the Camargue, in the municipality of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The program of this team building exercice, on October 19-20, was packed and very different from our daily activities!
It all started on Thursday morning at the equestrian center Les Arnelles. What better way to discover this region than a 2h horse ride. The weather was not the best with a grey and threatening sky, violent wind, but the landscape was all the more grandiose for these conditions! With our steeds, we rode through a wild and preserved landscape, between samphire and tamarisk, ponds, marshes, dunes and the sea. We had the privilege of witnessing the graceful flight of pink flamingos. One word to summarize this first morning: MAGIC!
Then we went for lunch at Mas de la Fouque where we were going to spend the night. Located in the heart of the regional park of Camargue, this establishment is located in an exceptional setting, facing a pond, under pine trees and tamarisks. The view of the rooms and their respective terraces is conducive to rest and serenity. Only ducks and horses on the other side can disturb the tranquility of the place.
In order to recover from our wild horse ride, we had an appointment in the middle of the afternoon at the hotel’s Green Reed Spa Nuxe, where unparalleled masseuses were waiting for us for 45 minutes of pure happiness. This spa has a steam room, an indoor pool and an outdoor wooden Jacuzzi. Facing the pond, we relaxed in water heated to 39°. What luxury!
In the evening we tried out a typical local evening, at El Campo restaurant, in the heart of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. This establishment with Andalusian influences especially delighted us with its musical entertainment. The Soy Group, part of the larger Manitas De Plata family, gave us a mixture of Flamenco Rumba Gypsy songs, to which we sang and danced.
The next morning, under a blue sky and a beautiful autumn sun, we had an appointment with Jean-Marie, for a 4×4 safari tour. Fascinating and passionate, he told us the history, culture and traditions of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and the Camargue. It was an educational approach to this natural park with this dashing 74-year-old man who amazed us with his stories, his kindness and his knowledge of the culture of the region.
We were able to get very close to a manade (a herd) of semi-wild bulls. He told us about the Camarguais’ love for this hardy and resilient breed, who are good at playing and running. Moreover, in the late 90s, bull meat became one of the few types of cattle to benefit from the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Of the many specialties of the Camargue, the Gardiane de Taureau must be tried. But the bull can also be consumed in the form of ribs, carpaccio, terrine, dry sausage … It is a very tasty meat and not very fatty. Needless to say, we tested and approved everything!
We ended our journey with a gargantuan lunch at the Manade des Baumelles, one of the largest in the region. Today the cocardier (bulls wearing ribbons – cockades) of the Manade des Baumelles shine each season on the race tracks of the arenas of Provence and Languedoc. The restaurant, with a large terrace, offers home cooking “terroir”, generous and divinely delicious.
The return to Marseille hit us in terms of the contrast to the Camargue. An hour and a half before, we left behind a wild and stunning landscape, so far from our daily life and so close at the same time geographically. Most of us did not know this region and it was a very nice discovery. We will definitely go back independently!