Just as it does every year, the Tour du Valat opened its doors to the public so people could discover the Tour du Valat Nature Reserve and celebrate wetlands on almost the same day the Ramsar Convention was signed in Iran back in 1971. This year’s theme was “Wetlands and Climate Change“.
The grey and windy weather at the start of the day did not discourage the 150 people who came for a visit in the morning. A few brave souls were present right from the start, and headed out to discover the nature trails. Patrick Grillas led a guided visit that enthralled a large number of participants—”In the footsteps of the branches of the Rhone at the Tour du Valat.”
More than 40 of the visitors attended a talk by Élie Gaget about French Southern and Antarctic Lands. His special focus on the Kerguelen Islands enabled those present to learn more about this zone—practically devoid of human activities—and the scientific monitoring activities conducted there.
In the afternoon, nearly 100 more visitors arrived. 30 of them had the pleasure of discovering the history of the Tour du Valat Ranch and Estate during Olivier Pineau’s guided visit. Meanwhile, Jean Jalbert’s talk on climate change and the specific case of the Camargue attracted some 70 people.
An eventful day!
In addition to these outings and talks, a variety of activities for children were proposed throughout the day, including recreational workshops, colouring books, making mobiles (land-art) and string art, and pony rides, all delighting the thirty children who participated.
Other events held included a presentation on the risks of submersion in the Camargue by Hugo Laurent-Vidieu, a civic service volunteer at the Mediterranean Lagoons Transfer Unit, while Hugo Ferreira led an event about bird watching and how rings are read for the purposes of scientific monitoring. This event attracted people of all ages who had fun and were able to understand why bird watching is a useful scientific activity.
The exhibition DuO presented 15 images selected by a jury for the 2018 photography contest of the Friends of the Tour du Valat Association. It was displayed for the first time ever to the general public during Open Day, and was greatly appreciated by the visitors.
The illustrator Cyril Girard and the photographer Jean Roché were present for a book-signing event, and Roger Merlin, the chef at the Mas des Colverts titillated the taste buds of curious gourmets with his culinary creations made from various products harvested in wetlands.
Two food trucks (Café d’Autrefois and La Roulotte Gourmande) also brightened up the day for visitors and Tour du Valat employees thanks to the tasty dishes they served.
Finally, although the mistral wind was howling for much of the day, the grey sky in the morning gave way to a beautiful sunny afternoon, and over 260 visitors stopped by for a visit; 90 people hiked out to the Rendez-vous hide, and 90 others made it out to the St-Seren hide