L’Auberge Cavaliere du Pont des Bannes
What We Love
- Natural beauty in the heart of France’s Camargue region, with breakfast and extras includedStaying in an authentic thatched herdsman’s hut
- Exploring the beautiful countryside on horseback
- Flamingo-spotting from your private terrace
What To Know
- The onsite Provençal-style restaurant – Le Pont des Bannes – has a rather casual (but enforced) dress code, so be sure to keep that in mind
- On the property you'll find 2 pools, a tennis court, and barn
- Free WiFi and onsite parking are provided
Getting back to nature is what it’s all about at this charming retreat in the heart of France’s picturesque Camargue delta. Its windswept marshland, reedy waterways and sand-dune backed beaches are home to pink flamingos, herds of cattle and the region’s famously elegant white horses.
Set on the banks of a tranquil lagoon, L’Auberge Cavaliere du Pont des Bannes consists of a variety of original, thatched-roof cabins and farmhouses scattered among the marshes. With two cozy restaurants (one with a giant fireplace), a sauna, a Jacuzzi and massage treatments on offer, this is no ordinary country retreat. When you’re not relaxing, head out into the dramatic landscape on horseback or foot.
How to Get There
Wonderful landscape. Awful rooms. Badly functioning AC, non functioning mosquito netting, leaking shower, inadequate power outlets, very low bandwidth. Uncompromising staff. They sell the rooms as shabby-chic, but they are just shabby. Your money is best spent elsewhere.
I was a first time traveller to France. I had taken the train from Paris to Arles and was so excited for my few days exploring the Camargue. Upon arriving into Arles, on a Sunday, there were no taxi's to be found. If one could see me - I was walking around with a large suitcase, purse and handbag walking through the town trying to find a taxi. Speaking very little french, I walked into a hotel and asked (in very broken French) if they could order me a taxi. He told me I had to walk back to the train station. So off I went. 30 minutes later, soaking wet from sweat and feeling defeated I found a taxi. He agreed to take me the 40 minute drive to L'Aubere Cavaliere Du Pont Des Bannes... the price... 92 Euros! Yup - $132 Canadian sheckels! Now - this is not on the hotel - I realize that - but it is important to note! Bring cash and expect a fairly hefty taxi ride. With the class of this hotel, I would have paid an added fee for the hotel to pick me up... honestly! With never being to France I did not realize how remote this hotel really was. When we arrived at the hotel - I was greated with 2 very Smiley faces! Helberth and Didian (I know I am spelling his name wrong). They both spoke English very well (and I was so relieved). Check in process was easy and smooth. When I had booked the hotel, I had asked to be booked for a horse back ride, spa date and dinner. They handled absolutely everything! I had the riding booked for 9am the next morning, dinner at their restaurant for 8pm that night and unfortunately had to cancel the spa day due to unforseen circumstances with their masseuse. Honestly, this worked out perfectly. After checking in, I took my large luggage and headed off to my cowboy cabin. Although it does not look exaclty like the pictures it was still very nice. I really cared about the view and that is what I got! My little decked backed onto where the horses ate and were kept. Once I checked in, I wanted to keep my cheese that I had bought from another town in the minifridge. This was one downfall - they do not want anything put in the minifridge. I ended up having to throw out the cheese that I had bought as it was not going to keep. From here, I headed to the pool and spent a good 3 hours just soaking up the sun, cooling off in the pool and enjoying some downtime. There was a drink menu that you could order from but no one ever came out to take orders. It was not until the next day, when I was asking for something from the front desk, that they said I could order a drink at the bar and have it by the pool. Dinner at Les Bannes was AMAZING!!!! The English here was not as strong as the front desk, and they were not as friendly, but I still received great service and an excellent meal. They sat me beside the pool, over looking the marsh lands. I ate dinner, watching the sun set and enjoying French Wine, breads and food that was absolutely worth every minute I spent there. I left there and went to bed full, happy and completely in engulfed in the experience.
Riding the horses was a bit different of experience. It is definitely what you would expect when signing up for a horse tour. Well broke horses, single file line and uncomfortable saddles. As I have ample riding experience, as a I was a show jumper and grew up around horses and in stables, I was able to keep my expectations low - but Ill be honest - those saddles for people who know how to ride are not comfortable. When I booked the tour I advised them that I was experience, was tall and wanted to have a larger horse. They did accommodate this and I LOVED riding the horse I had. The trainer and her helper were very friendly and you could tell were riders, which I appreciated. I wish, however, that the tour could have been broken up with experienced horse people and non-experienced horse people. Although the scenery and horses were beautiful, we were only able to canter for about 1 minute. Not even in the water like other videos or tours were doing. In terms of the care of these horses - they are very well cared for. When you drive along the road and see these different tour places, the horses are standing there for HOURS with tack on. The ladies did have the horses ready for when we were there, but the minute the tour was done, they were getting put away and back to having a life of a horse. The horses are well fed, watered and have their own stalls with their name on it. The girls working with the horses are very gentle and kind to them. This was so amazing to see.
My last day, I was to catch the train at 1pm. Not knowing that a cab back to the train station would be difficult to get (as the cabs are only about a 5 min drive from the hotel) I did not request one till about 1130. Little did I know, the cab drivers would not drive to the train station! With the help of the front desk staff, and 7minutes to go, she drove me to the bus station to catch a bus. I was on my way back to Arles for my train. The staff here are amazing - honestly - I felt very well taken care of and although I tried to speak French, they were very understanding. The hotel is quiet, peaceful and offers something for the soul. Whether it was in the cooking at Les Bannes, the cool water, sun or sound of all the wildlife. This hotel was unique and made my experience in the Camargue very special.
If you love nature you’ll be blown away by a stay in one of these little thatched houses amongst the reed beds and pools. Birds and dragonflies everywhere. Ride one of their white Camargue horses on the beach and trek past lakes with literally hundreds of wild flamingoes. The breakfasts are superb, so fresh and with so much choice. The restaurant is class, but not cheap. The coastal town of Saintes Maries has an amazing market and lots of lovely little shops and restaurants and is only a ten minute drive. Car would be desirable. Definitely would stay again.