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Camargue : The Manade Laurent in immersion.

Just a few dozen kilometres from the L'Étoile des Baux property, the Camargue is a fascinating place. With its immense salt marshes, its unmissable pink flamingos and its manades, iconic of the region.


It's a little after 9am when we leave the D36 and head a few kilometres into this "eternal Camargue". The sun is hiding behind a tiny cloud. We pass two or perhaps three gates in turn. A few metres later, very close to the Mas, Estelle, all smiles and dressed in a very elegant outfit whose hat, red scarf and pretty Provençal pattern on the shirt arouse our admiration, is already waiting for us. A few moments later, Patrick, her husband, emerges from an annex of the property, greets us and takes a seat in his 4x4, which we were just about to join. And here we are. The gates of the Manade are open to us today, and the introductions are made. The sun is beating down and the clouds have gone. It promises to be an exciting discovery.


Mas Les Marquises is first and foremost an immense 500-hectare private estate, where wild horses and bulls are bred to thrive in complete freedom, amidst marshes, enganes, tamarisk and sansouires. The latter form the distinctive Camargue scenery. Each year, a privileged few are given the chance to enter the property, to experience a unique immersion in a manade that is usually closed to the general public. It's an exceptional privilege to get up close and personal with the Laurent family, the owners. The history of the Manade Laurent is inseparable from that of the land it occupies: Les Marquises. Owned by the family for 3 generations, the estate lies around thirty kilometres from Arles, just a stone's throw from the sea and the Vaccarès lake.

Estelle and Patrick Laurent devote their lives to their farm and their animals. A life of tradition, fresh air and wide open spaces. So it's from the back of their 4x4, as you drive around the property, that you can learn about bull rearing and Camargue racing, both of which are governed by precise codes and rules.

The passion of the manadiers is something to be savoured minute by minute. You feel it with every word they say. Their transmission is sincere. The immersion is total. The rhythm is set by the successive discoveries of the different residents. The bulls: powerful, fearsome, feared, star-studded. Champions. These idols of the arena are considered to be no more and no less than top-level sportsmen and women, competing in one competition after another and collecting the best awards for the best. Horses are unmissable. With their grey coats. Indissociable from the breeding of bulls, the horse is the manadier's best ally. The bond with Laurent and Estelle is palpable. The Manade has around fifty of them.

Join Estelle and Patrick from the Laurent Manade is a unique experience to live during a stay at L'Étoile des Baux.

Discover more of the nuggets to visit around L'Étoile des Baux in ICONS, the collection of attractive pocket guides launched by Iconic House around its destinations.

Images : Agathe Boudin

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