Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – The Gypsy Capital

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or Sant Marie De La Mer is a coastal city on the french part of the mediterrenean. These days it is largely a beach resort with heavy tourism, busy beaches, hotels and campsites roaming with holidaymakers from all over Europe, but Sant Marie De La Mer is in fact much more than that. If you look at the cultural history it is a destination of pilgrimage as well as a popular seaside resort, with a central mediterrenean location in Provence, in the Bouches-du-Rhone.

These days the centerpiece of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the beach. A vast sandy beach that stretches for kilometres along the coastline with shallow waters making it extremely family friendly. However, the actual village is built around its famous ancient church of the eleventh century, that countains the mummified remains of the saint Mary (or the three marys that are the objects of pilgrimace and spectacular annual festivals). From the church the charming little village is spread out in a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets with outdoor café serving refreshments on every corner, craftsmen producing leather belts from tiny stores and a wide range of other original goods for sale directly from the producers. Sadly these days, these original traits are under heavy pressure from cheap and tacky tourist shops, standard tourist nightclubs and burger bars but you can still find the charming spots wandering around town, which is well worth doing.

St._Maries_de_la_Mer_-_The_church Saintes_Maries_de_la_Mer-Musée_Baroncelli

During the busy holiday season between Christmas and New Years, the village has an entertainment program named the Camargue. Thus, one can attend the “Abrivado”, which means a bull run taken away by cowboys (horsemen Camargue) carrying torches, visitors can admire the sunset with cowboys and bulls roaming the streets. Children can enjoy the bouncy castles while their parents stroll through the streets with live music, or visit the crypt housing St. Sarah. Each May 25, more than 10,000 gypsies from around the world flock to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to venerate their holy “Black Sarah” or Sara-la-Kali. Her relics are carried through the streets at the gypsy festival and into the ocean in a heap of flames. A spectacular sight not to be missed. Every year also sports the vierginenco festo (the virgin festival), which is a ceremony for girls aged 16 that celebrates their change of status to that of an adolescent woman. Theres further festivals and monuments relating to the roma gypsies treating it as a holy city or mediterrenean capital and its always worth looking out for these gypsy fiestas as they tend to be entertaining, inclusive and rather mad.

The area surrounding Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer include a vast natural park with the opportunity to go on safaris and admire a range of wild life, a high speed canal for windsurfers and long stretches of undisturbed beaches away from the main tourist areas. Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is still well worth a visit, especially during the gypsy festival season, even though it has developed from a real hidden gem to more of a traditional tourist beach resort

One thought on “Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – The Gypsy Capital”

  1. Las Santas Maredas de la Mar es una iglesia mirsseiota, nada me1s entrar en ella se percibe la presencia de lo extraordinario a la vez que un ligero temblor nos atraviesa de abajo arriba. Nada que ver con las nedtida y alegres notas musicales que nos acompaf1aron en la puerta, antes de entrar, evocadoras de un mar en calma profundo y sereno.El espacio interior de las Santas Maredas del Mar me llevf3 de inmediato a un mar bravo, a la lucha por la supervivencia, al encuentro con dragones y fondos abisales. En su interior se senteda el rugir de las olas rompiendo contra sus muros y la luz de los rele1mpagos alumbrando la oscuridad de la noche. Al llegar al centro de la iglesia busque9 un lugar en donde sentarme e intente9 desde el silencio habitar ese espacio. Mas tarde vino un practicante del Seminario y se sentf3 junto a med y para asombro de los dos empezamos a ver con los ojos cerrados la misma escena, incluso llegf3 a contarme elementos pertenecientes a un suef1o que yo habeda sof1ado hace pocos dedas. Momento de conexif3n y asombro…Despue9s vino un rico helado de dos sabores y una relajante y silenciosa caminata entre aves en reposo que consciente de nuestro afe1n de especte1culos se resistieron a elevar el vuelo y posar para una foto. Nada de ir de complaciente por la vida ni someterse al caprichoso deseo del otro me dijeron en un e-mail brisero un par de flamenco salude1ndome con sus coloridas alas. a1! Todo un encuentro con la Camarga y sus Duendes !!. Asombro navegando a lomo de caballos llamados asombros. Toros salvajes buscando liberarse del candente hierro que les da pertenencia y les llevare1 a la muerte. Redos de mar creadores de marismas, espejos de lunas y estrellas, rutas de ensuef1os. Libe9lulas y me1s libe9lulas, flores voladoras, transparentes, sutiles, discretas, acaricie1ndonos con su suave vuelo.Gracias organizadores, gracias ensof1adores de este planeta Tierra tan sembrado de momentos de asombros

Comments are closed.