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By the way, we would recommend you to combine your visit to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer with other popular and interesting places of France, for example: The Three Valleys, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Arles, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Carcassonne, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Montpellier, Beaune, Corsica, Cabourg, Antibes, French Alps, Saint-Tropez, Perpignan, Val Thorens, Le Havre, Biarritz, Île-de-France, Ajaccio, Vendée, Nantes, Deauville, Toulouse, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sainte-Maxime, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Porto-Vecchio, Briançon, La Roche-sur-Yon, Dijon, Brittany, Colmar, Hyères, La Tranche-sur-Mer, Aix-en-Provence, Honfleur, Trouville-sur-Mer, Aquitaine, Courchevel, Auch, Saint-Raphaël, Saint-Malo, Versailles, Cassis, Avignon, Les Gets, Nice, Bonifacio, Les Issambres, Besançon, Canet-en-Roussillon, La Ciotat, Paris, Dunkirk, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Fréjus, Provence, Bayonne, Alsace, Tignes, Val-d'Isère, Pas-de-Calais, Limoges, Menton, Lyon, Lourdes, Saint-Jean-de-Monts, La Rochelle, La Plagne, Étretat, Périgueux, Méribel, Burgundy, Chambéry, Le Lavandou, Rhône-Alpes, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Les Menuires, Morzine, Marseille, Lille, Rouen, Narbonne, Nîmes, Les Arcs, Normandy, Les Sables-d'Olonne, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Portes du Soleil, Toulon, Grimaud, Chamonix, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Annecy, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Calais, Calvi, Grenoble, Reims, Paradiski, Avoriaz, Le Grau-du-Roi, Cannes, French Riviera, etc.
How to Book a Hotel in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
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Hotels of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
A hotel in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
An upscale full service hotel facility in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Full service Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Boutique hotels of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Small to medium-sized Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
A bed and breakfast in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
A Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Travelling and vacation in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Fortified church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Ritual bath during the Romani pilgrimage of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (lit.: Saint Marys of the Sea, Provençal Occitan: Lei Santei Marias de la Mar) is the capital of the Camargue (Provençal Occitan Camarga) in the south of France. It is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department by the Mediterranean Sea. Its 2012 population was 2,495, though it can swell to 50,000 during the summer holidays. It covers the second-largest area of all communes in Metropolitan France, smaller only than that of neighbouring Arles.
The town is situated in the Rhône River delta, about 1 km east of the mouth of the Petit Rhône distributary. The commune comprises alluvial land and marshland, and includes the Étang de Vaccarès, a large lagoon. The main industry is tourism. Agriculture is also significant, and ranchers have raised horses and cattle unique to the Camargue; some of the bulls are used for bull-fighting and for the course camarguaise. There is bus service to Arles, 38 km away.
The village was noted as "Ra" (see below) in the 4th century AD by the Roman geographer Rufus Festus Avienus. In the 6th century, the archbishopric of Arles was active and created a monastery or church in the town, named St. Mary, a favorite of the fishermen. The village became known as Notre-Dame-de-Ratis (Our Lady of the Boat - Râ being used in ratis, or boat) in reference to the three Marys arriving by boat. (Droit, 1963, 19). The name was later changed to Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer (Our Lady of the Sea, a synonym for the Virgin Mary).
The current Church of the Saintes Maries de la Mer was built from the 9th to the 12th century, as a fortress and a refuge. It can be seen from 10 km away. It has a fresh water well inside, for when the villagers had to take shelter from raiders. In the 9th century, the town suffered raids from the Mediterranean Sea by the Vikings and later from the Saracens. In the 15th century, someone "discovered" the relics of Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome, who were said to have arrived there by sea (together with Mary Magdalene). The 500th anniversary of this event was celebrated in the 20th century by Pope John XXIII.
In 1720, the town was spared by the plague. During the anti-clerical fervor of the French Revolution, the church was partially destroyed and the stones recycled.
In 1838, the town was renamed Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, after the three Maries (Marys) of its Catholic and local history. Shortly afterward, the pilgrimage (see below) was instituted. A narrow-gauge railway line to Arles operated from 1892 until 1953.
In the early 20th century, the town was a literary and artistic centre, with visits inter alios from such figures as American writer Ernest Hemingway and Spanish painter Picasso. The vicinity was used as a setting for various films.
Since the second half of the 20th century, the population has increased. Retired people and holiday accommodation largely supplanted the fishermen and farmers, with a corresponding political shift to the right in elections.
See also: The Three Marys
The three saints Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary of Clopas are believed to be the women who were the first witnesses to the empty tomb at the resurrection of Jesus. After the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Marys were said to set sail from Alexandria, Egypt with their uncle Joseph of Arimathea. According to a longstanding French legend, they either sailed to or were cast adrift - arriving off the coast of what is now France, at "a sort of fortress named Oppidum-Râ". The location became known as Nôtre-Dame-de-Ratis (Our Lady of the Boat - Râ being used in ratis, or boat) (Droit, 1963, 19). The name was later changed to Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer. In 1838, it was changed to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
The town is also a pilgrimage destination for Roma (Gypsies), who gather yearly for a religious festival in honor of Saint Sarah. Dark-skinned Saint Sara is said to have possibly been the Egyptian servant of the three Marys. In another version, Sara was a local woman who welcomed the three Marys on their arrival. A statue of Ste. Sarah is in the crypt of the church, which also encloses a 4th-century BC taurobolic altar once dedicated to the cult of the Indo-Iranian god Mithra, although a likely Celtic origin is claimed.
View of Saintes-Maries by Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands (F416).
The windsurfing Canal where the last three world sailing speed records were set is on the outskirts of the town.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: Notable figures
Vincent van Gogh painted several paintings here, including Street in Saintes-Maries in 1888.
Hermann-Paul died here in 1940, two days before the French capitulation to Germany in the Battle of France.
Tori Amos wrote a song, "Marys of the Sea", inspired by Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, most notably Mary Magdalene.
Mick Softley wrote a song called "Just Flew In On A Jet Plane," featured on his Sunrise/Streetsinger album, in which he refers to flying "from Montpelier, from the festival of gypsies, at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and in a church in the village, 1000 candles glow, for Magdalene of the sea, from 2000 years ago".
Bob Dylan composed the song "One more cup of coffee," included on his album Desire, while visiting the Roma festival in 1975 on his 34th birthday.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: See also
Communes of the Bouches-du-Rhône department
Bac du Sauvage
Saintes Marie de la Mer: The Church, Office of Tourism, accessed 6 December 2013
Wineyard, Val. "Saintes Maries de la Mer". I Write about Mary Magdalene. Retrieved Jan 13, 2015.
Droit, Michel. (1963). Carmague. Ernest and Adair Heimann (trans.). London: George Allen and Unwin.
Letter, BJorner website. Note: At a concert (Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California, 13 November 1978), he introduced the song thus: "Thank you. I once went to the South of France on my birthday to a festival of gypsies down there. They had come from all over the world. Anyway, I got mixed up with someone and wrote this song."
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Tourism office website
Communes of the Bouches-du-Rhône department
BNF: cb15247378g (data)
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