Welcome to Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer
The saints who give their name to this whitewashed seaside town are Marie-Salomé and Marie-Jacobé, persecuted early Christians who escaped here from Palestine. With them, the legend says, was their handmaiden Sara, whose sanctification as Saint Sara the Black makes this a significant place of pilgrimage for Roma and other 'gypsy' peoples, whose patron she is. Stes-Maries has a rough-and-tumble holidaymaker feel, with salt-licked buildings crowding dusty streets. During its Roma pilgrimages, street-cooked pans of paella fuel chaotic crowds of carnivalesque guitarists, dancers and mounted cowboys.