- Fly from London to Marseille and then drive to our hotel just outside the Camargue for an evening meal. We have a very flexible programme with some optional early morning excursions.
- Accommodation: Beaucaire, 4-nights on full board basis.
- The freshwater marshes of the Camargue and the surrounding meadows remain one of Europe's most exciting birdwatching areas. The array of herons is quite outstanding: grey herons and both little and cattle egrets are common, and great white egret a recent colonist. Raptors are always present in the skies here – usually marsh harrier, together with short-toed eagle chasing the abundance of dragonflies.
- The shallow pools, mudflats and water meadows also boast a good variety of waders, including black-winged stilt and avocet, together with passage migrants including curlew sandpiper.
- Reed beds form another excellent habitat, with Cetti's and fan-tailed warblers. But perhaps it is the sight of the intense pink and red of the thousands of greater flamingos against the green of the reed beds and the deep blue of the sky that will remain the most indelible memory of these wonderful wetlands.
- The unique boulder-strewn steppe of the Crau is a superb habitat for birds. France's only pin-tailed sandgrouse are here, and are most active in the early mornings and late evenings.
- To the north of the area the limestone hills of the Alpilles with the spectacular hilltop fortress of Les Baux can produce a good variety of raptors. Near our hotel, the fabled Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard is spectacular in its own right, but has the added attraction to birdwatchers of its colonies of crag martin and rock sparrow.
- In the High Pyrenees, amidst some of Europe's most inspiring scenery, can be found a selection of really choice mountain birds. Lammergeier patrol the cliff-faces effortlessly, along with griffon vulture and golden eagle, and both red-billed and Alpine chough. The pine forests hold citril finch and crossbill, while high on the scree slopes we can see rock thrush and rock bunting.
- To a southbound migrant, these sheer walls of rock present formidable obstacles, and the sight of flocks of raptors gaining height in the thermals amidst the foothills before attempting the crossing is most impressive.
- The slopes are also good lovely autumn flowers including merendera, a Pyrenean endemic, while butterflies can still be found in good numbers.
- From our base we can choose to drive up many of the passes and magnificent cirques, or corries. The most famous of these, at Gavarnie, is one of the great mountain sights of Europe and not to be missed, but there are many other less busy areas that are equally stunning.
- Accommodation: Saint-Luz-Saveur, 3-nights on full board basis.
The drive to Toulouse takes around three hours, where we board our flight back to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
This is a two-centre tour. Our base in the Camargue is the Hotel Robinson (2-star, Logis de France 3-cheminées award) in Beaucaire. The hotel enjoys an exceptional reputation for its Provençale cuisine, and splendid picnic hampers. All rooms are en suite, most singles have showers but single rooms with baths are available upon payment of a supplement.
In the Pyrenees, we stay at a 2-star, Logis de France 3-cheminées hotel in Luz St. Sauveur, in a quiet area of the town. All rooms are en suite.
All main meals are included, wine is included with dinner in Luz St. Sauveur.
The Camargue is famed for its pink flamingos, and is one of Europe’s most exciting birdwatching areas. We should see an outstanding array of herons – grey heron and little, and cattle egrets – and plenty of raptors. Wader and warblers abound amongst the mudflats and reedbeds and in the High Pyrenees, we will see a steady stream of migrant species.
- Short-toed eagle
- Cetti’s warbler
- Great white egret
- Alpine marmot
- Pyrenean chamois / isard
The slopes of the Pyrenees are excellent for autumn wildflowers, including merendera, a Pyrenean endemic.
- Naked ladies / autumn crocus
Our tour begins in the freshwater marshes of the Camargue, with its pink flamingos, white horses and black bulls. We also visit the boulder-strewn steppe of the Crau and the limestone hills of the Alpilles, before heading to the High Pyrenees, with its sheer rock walls, magnificent cirques and slopes clad with autumn flowers.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Marseille / Toulouse – London.