Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a resort town on the Côte d'Azur. It is home to the most important Romani sanctuary in the world, in which St. Sarah. The area around the city is a swamp where flamingos and other water birds live.
The town is situated on the Rhone Delta, one of the largest wetlands in southern Europe. They are included in the Camargue Regional Park, where flocks of flamingos live. Black oxen and white horses are also bred here, and trips on their ridges along the paths between the backwaters are one of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer's main attractions.
The small historic center of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is centered around the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer. In its crypt there is a venerated figure of St. Sarah, patroness of the Roma. Her cult is based on the legend that the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene and Maria Cleofas' wife went on a sea journey escaping persecution, during which their servant Sarah accompanied them. They reached the area of the Rhone Delta and lived here. Sarah was buried in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and her relics and a statue were placed in the crypt. It is the most important Roma pilgrimage site in the world.
There are some old buildings around the church, which have now been converted into guesthouses, restaurants and shops. The entertainment life of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer takes place most of the day on the beach and around the marina nearby.