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Discover / Camargue, Crau, Alpilles  / Crau
Camargue - Crau - Alpilles and Montagnette - Rhone River - Visit the Camargue

Between the Alpilles to the North and the Etang de Berre to the South, the Crau, the former delta of the Durance River, is the stony part of the city of Arles, just as the Camargue is the watery part. 

The Crau plateau is a vast flat territory covered with polished stones left there by the Durance. It is sometimes called the Crau desert.

There are actually two sections in the Crau :

  • In the North the green and fertile plain is where the famous Crau hay is grown (it is the only animal feed that has received an AOC – appellation d’origine contrôlée – label). The area has been inhabited by shepherds since prehistoric times and there are many traces of Roman sheepfolds left. Large sheepfarms still dot the countryside : today there are approximately 100,000 ewes in the Crau, including the well-known Arles Merinos.
  • To the South lies the dry Crau, the last arid steppe left in Europe. This area is a sanctuary for nesting birds. 120 different species have been spotted, making the land a must for bird-watchers and nature-lovers. Here is the only spot in France where you can observe the ganga cata (about 100 couples). It is also one of the two sites in France where the kestrel falcon nests (40 couples).

In 1987 the Crau plain became a Nature Preserve and since 1991 it has been classed as a special protection zone. To discover the Crau, the best way is to visit the Ecomusée de St Martin de Crau, installed in a former sheepbarn and devoted to the protection and valorization of the natural and human resources of the Crau.

* Agricultural lands used for extensive sheep raising