Sainte-Marie-la-Mer is a quaint little beach town in the South of France that is popular with tourists looking for a great place to spend the summer.
For most of the year, Sainte-Marie-la-Mer is fairly quiet, and its population is so small that it does not reach 4,000. The vast majority of the inhabitants of the commune are farmers, fishermen and shepherds. In the summer months, however, the town experiences an incredible influx of people, with around 20,000 people living, working and visiting. Summer inhabitants love to spend their time at the beautiful beaches, often in small wooden cabins on the sandy landscapes.
The most popular pastimes are water sports. Both visitors and locals enjoy spending a day of scuba diving, boat excursions, kayaking, sailing — or just taking in the sun and playing in the water. Inland, visitors can rent a truck to cruise through the beautiful landscapes and nature the region has to offer. Visitors looking for a unique experience choose to see Sainte-Marie-la-Mer from up in the air by renting out a helicopter or a small plane — with a pilot of course.
Other things to do in town include visiting the beautiful Jardin d’Ariane, and the Eglise Sainte Marie, a fine example of Medieval architecture, and one of the most iconic landmarks in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer.
The reason that thousands of people flock to this gorgeous place every year, however, is not its incredible beaches and beautiful sites, but its absolutely enchanting culture. Because of its geographic location, Sainte-Marie-la-Mer has a rich cultural mix of French and Basque that it has been able to keep fairly intact over the ages.
We’ll be visiting Sainte-Marie-la-Mer on Ralph Grizzle’s June 17, 2015 barge cruise in the south of France.