Pont de Gau Ornithological Park – Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France - Atlas Obscura

Pont de Gau Ornithological Park

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Thousands of flamingos and other bird species flourish in these Camargue wetlands. 


These 150 acres in the Camargue wetlands are one big bird park featuring many big birds.

The Parc Ornithologique Pont de Gau began in 1949 as a collection of aviaries under the watchful eye of devoted ornithologist André Lamouroux. In 1974, his son René transitioned the park to a primarily open-air space, constructing favorable habitats on a network of small islands to encourage native species to congregate. Over the decades, these saltwater marshes along Europe’s largest river delta have become a haven for both sedentary and migratory birds of all types - including flamingos, herons, storks, and fearsome birds of prey.Although there are no cages of any kind, the site is also host to a clinic that treats wounded birds before releasing them back into the wild. The Tour du Valat research center up the road monitors specific populations, banding new chicks every summer.

The wildlife is accessible to visitors by way of an almost five mile network of boardwalks meandering through the brine lagoons. The big draw is the sizable pink flamingo population, which numbers in the thousands during the springtime.

Although it draws many die-hard ornithologists and lifelong bird lovers, it’s probably the best possible place to start as a rookie birdwatcher - a veritable sea of flamingos is pretty hard to miss.

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