I had heard of pink lakes before and knew I had to see one for myself! I searched for a pink lake in France and I found Salins d’Aigues Mortes. However, I didn’t read any of the reviews for this place and didn’t do my research properly. I will be telling you why I wouldn’t recommend going here and where the best pink lake in France really is! Also they aren’t really lakes, they are man made salt pans made to extract salt from. We stayed in Aix en Provence during this trip so I’ll also be telling you what else there is to do in Provence and where to stay in Provence. Also, not only will I be telling you where to see the best pink lakes but where to see flamingos too!
All drone shots are by @boyanoo
What are pink lakes?
The pink colour in a pink lake is actually caused by certain algae that are present in the water. However, these man made saltpans are similar as they also have this microorganism that makes the water pink. They are not always pink, so check before you go to avoid disappointment. We actually watched the location tagged stories on instagram to see whether it was pink in people’s stories. Sometimes photos are posted well after someone has been to a place so the best way to check is to watch the stories tagged with the location of a place you want to go to.
What are salt pans?
These are man made evaporation ponds. The seawater enters them, and as it evaporates, the salt is leftover ready to harvest. The seawater is pumped here from the month of March to September over different salt flats until it reaches the saltpans. A man we met here said that the sea was a 10km walk away. The salt is then harvested between August and October.
Why shouldn’t you visit Salins D’Aigues Mortes?
We definitely did not do our research before we came here! As we arrived into the car park we were met with tonnes of cars and a huge line at the ticket office. I didn’t realise it was such a popular tourist attraction! There were signs everywhere for a train ticket. When I went to ask about visiting these saltpans, I was told that this could only be done by train. They have a limited capacity and a tour takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was 35 degrees and we had sat in a non-air conditioned car for an hour and a half to get here. There was no way I was sitting on a sticky train and being told at what point I can get off and look at the salt pans!
I then got back into the car and started to read the reviews, a little late. All of these said that it is a photographer’s nightmare! You take the train ride around the saltpans and apparently the tour is all in French. Then at certain points you are allowed to get off and take some photos.
However it is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! Boyan flew the drone and it was absolutely incredible. We knew we had to see this up close but we had no idea how to do this without getting a train with loads of other people. We tried lots of different options, but the salt-pans are guarded from every angle by a large river that you cant cross easily. In the end we gave up and drove home.
How much does it cost?
Salin d’Aigues Mortes costs around 10 Euro for an adult and 8 Euro for a child to visit these salt pans by train.
Where is the best Pink Lake in France?
Salin de Giraud!
As we were driving back from Salin D’Aigues Mortes, I saw a sign for Salin de Giraud. I don’t speak much French but I could work out that it was Salin – which could mean that we had found some more salt pans! We quickly stopped and I checked the place on my phone. We took the risk and decided to see whether these saltpans were any better! After a 40 minute detour we arrived at 6pm to a place with a fence the whole way around and two gates for cars to drive through. There were sign saying no bicycles allowed but nothing about pedestrians and no proper gate, so we were able to walk through.
A man was just driving out so in my not very good French I asked if we could go in here and he said yes of course!
What is it like to walk in the salt pan?
It is really warm, a bit too warm. As you walk into the salt-pans, the crusts of salt disappear beneath you and your foot will fall through it a bit. At first I was worried and didn’t want to walk into it. However, the next salt-pan we went into it was much less deep and felt nicer to walk through! When you get out your feet will feel really oily and as the salt dries it will feel like you have a facemask on your feet! I wouldn’t recommend getting any clothes into the salt pan for sure.
How to get to Salin de Giraud?
Salin de Giraud is 1hr 30 minutes away from Aix-en-Provence where we stayed. If you want to stay nearer the coast, Port Camargue is also a lovely place to stay and from here it is just over an hour away. There is a small road from the big main road and it is also lovely for sunflowers! Unfortunately we went in the peak of summer so the sunflowers were there but very much dead.
How much does it cost?
We went at 6pm and there really was no one around at all. We just walked straight in, and didn’t pay anything at all. There was no obvious ticket office, just some signs on the fence outside. The signs said that it was 15 Euro to enter and cycle. For a guided tour of Salin de Giraud it said it was 35 Euro for adults and 18 Euro for children. I would therefore definitely recommend going much later on when we went!
Is it dangerous?
There were lots of signs here all in French. As I didn’t have time or the internet to translate each one of those at the time, we went straight in. However, I have now translated them all so I can tall you about any dangers! And to freak myself out about what could have happened to me while I was there!
Zone exposee aux inondations – Exposed to floods
Risque de feuz de forêt – Risk of forest fires
Zone en aval d’un barrage – Downstream of a dam
Mouvements de terrains lies à la sécheresse – drought related land movement
Zone sismique faible – Low seismic zone
Subermsion marine – Again means that it could flood!
Drone photography tips for a pink lake in France
1. Make sure to shoot away from the sun
2. Set up the right white balance – don’t leave this on auto!
3. An ND filter is not really necessary as there isn’t much glare here
Where to see flamingos?
Near Salin d’Aigues Mortes there is another big lake full with flamingos! As you drive past the salt pans, you will go down a road with salt pans either side. Here, on the right hand side you will see lot of flamingos! Follow this link to help you find the place.
Best time of year to go to Provence?
If you are looking for beautiful fields of Lavender, then from June to late July! We were here in August and there were a few sunflowers that weren’t completely dead yet but definitely no lavender to be seen! However, the weather was amazing, if you like the heat! It was perfect timing to see the saltpans.
What to see in Provence?
There are so many beautiful towns here! I’ll list a few of my favourites below.
Moustiers Sainte Marie
This town is set up high and built into the side of a cliff. We went here at about 8am before all the shops opened and the small streets are really beautiful. There is also a small waterfall here coming down from the mountain that crates a little stream through the town. There is a car park just at the entrance to this town and we didn’t actually have to pay to park here either! Then for breakfast would recommend the little café right by the car park for the best pastries.
One of the most instagrammable towns here! This town is also very small and has some lovely orange buildings. There is parking right in the centre of the town, but you can only park here for 45 minutes. After this time there is parking about 5 minutes walk away that costs 3 Euro for the whole day. Rousillon has lots of lovely cafes and lunch spots. We ate at Chez Nino and had a great Croque Monsieur. It is also home to an incredible walk to see the orange clay cliffs called the Ochre Trail.
Read more: What to do in Roussillon!
This is another beautiful little town near Rousillon. It is right on top of a hill and has amazing views al around. There is one viewpoint that everyone walks to with stunning views. Wander around these streets and enjoy the French architecture. This town is most famous for its beautiful Abbey of Senaque. As at the right time it is surrounded by bright purple lavender.
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