The Tour du Valat can be visited several times a year even if, unlike many organisations in the Camargue, our main vocation is not to receive the general public. We are a research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands and owners of a 2921-hectare estate, much of which is listed as a restricted-access Regional Nature Reserve (the area is above all dedicated to the work of scientists and natural area managers, and to protecting the flora and fauna of the Camargue).
During the year, we do organise several general-public events, which are great opportunities to visit us:
- On our Open Day, generally held on the nearest Sunday to 2 February to mark the occasion of World Wetlands Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention every year. On this day the Tour du Valat opens its doors and offers talks, video screenings, guided tours, and free-visit trails on the Estate. The date and programme are released several weeks in advance on our website and social networks, and in the local press;
- For the Festival of the Camargue and Rhone Delta (generally in May), we offer several nature excursions, including one on the Tour du Valat Estate;
- In partnership with the Nature Guides Office (BGN) guided visits to the heart of the Tour du Valat Regional Nature Reserve are organised from November to April, every second Saturday of the month). Visits must be booked in advance and you will be charged a fee. They are managed directly by the BGN: www.guide-nature.fr (in French) or +33 (0)6 95 90 70 48.
- At the Petit Saint-Jean Estate (owned by the Tour du Valat), located in the western Camargue, guided visits are also organised from April to October by the Nature Guides Office (BGN). By reservation only: call the BGN at +33 (0)6 95 90 70 48. NB: the Petit Saint-Jean Estate is not open to the public apart from these visits;
The Friends of the Tour du Valat association also organises several thematic guided visits to the Tour du Valat Estate every year, reserved for its members.
In addition, two Tour du Valat sites are always freely accessible to the public:
- The Le Verdier marshes, located north of the village of Le Sambuc on the D36, with a free-access trail and a hide to observe the Camargue fauna and flora in a restored and jointly managed former fish farming area;
- The Étang du Grenouillet observation platform on the Fiélouse road from Le Sambuc linking the D36 to the Etang de Vaccarès, just north of the Tour du Valat.
Our general-public events are announced in advance on our website and social networks, and though the local media.
Would you like to be e-mailed the schedule of the general-public events organised by the Tour du Valat?
Activities for teachers and schoolchildren?
It is not the role of the Tour du Valat to receive school groups, but we work with a number of organisations in the Camargue that do:
- The Vigueirat marshes: recreational/educational and ethnobotanic trails, guided tour, horse-and-cart rides, and activities for school groups;
- The Pont de Gau Ornithological Park combines walking with discovering the birdlife;
- The Camargue National Nature Reserve at La Capelière: nature information, exhibitions, footpaths and bike paths, hides and observations platforms;
- The Palissade Estate: visit to an exceptional site protected by the Conservatoire du littoral (national costal protection agency), on foot or on horseback;
- The Camargue Regional Natural Park, information centre and panorama over the marshes, exhibitions, group visits by appointment;
- The Scamandre Centre in the western Camargue: thematic evening events, exhibitions, educational activities, guided tours;
- The Camargue Horse Centre (Maison du cheval Camargue): individual, group or school visits;
- The Centre permanent d’initiatives à l’environnement (CPIE) Rhone – Pays d’Arles (environmental education association): school projects, educational tools, talks, excursions…
How to get to the Tour du Valat?
The Tour du Valat is located in the Camargue, in the Bouches-du-Rhone department, about 30 km south of Arles.
GPS coordinates: 43.5089° N, 4.66757° E
- From Nîmes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, or Marseille via Arles: from Arles head towards Les Saintes Maries de la Mer then turn left toward Salin de Giraud on D36. Go through the village Le Sambuc. After about 800 m, take the first turn on the right (C136, Fiélouse du Sambuc). After three kms, just after the bridge over the canal (S-bend), continue straight on, up the Tour du Valat driveway. NB, there are no service stations on this route.
- From Marseille by the Bac de Barcarin ferry: head towards Martigues on the A55, then Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhone, Salin de Giraud. Before reaching Port-Saint-Louis, take the D35 (on the right after the bridge) towards the Bac de Barcarin ferry (fare). After crossing the Rhone, go right towards Arles (D36) and continue for about 12 km. Before arriving in the village of Le Sambuc, turn left onto C136, Fiélouse du Sambuc. After three kms, just after the bridge over the canal (S-bend), continue straight on, up the Tour du Valat driveway.
The nearest station is Arles, which can be reached by all the major train lines, or the Mediterranean TGV high-speed line, via Avignon, Marseille or Nîmes. From Arles railway station the ENVIA network’s n°10 bus line runs from Arles to Le Sambuc several times a day (see bus times).
The closest airport is Marseille-Marignane (65 km). There is a shuttle bus (every 30 min) linking Marseille-Marignane airport to Vitrolles SNCF railway station, from which there are trains to Arles.