{Travel France} Harvested in the Camargue - pink Fleur de Sel, pink flamingos and pink lakes as far as the eye can see.

V erflixt! My skirt is blowing up to my hips again. Energetic, I try to get the unruly things under control. Uff! Just everything is back neat and chaste kneeling, there comes the next hot air blowing gust and submerged the fabric ... I give the Marilyn over the subway bay. Unfortunately unintentionally. It's Mistral in France and I put on a very wide skirt. A very stupid idea - I have to admit it.

The extremely warm and strong permanent wind is typical of the summer in southern France and comes straight from Africa. For the French, of course, everything is quite normal - for a winderprobte Hamburgerin nevertheless a medium-sized surprise. Finally, I have the fabric firmly under control and do not let it go again. So, wind, go play somewhere else. For example, on the surfaces of these huge pools that surround our small group.

We are in the salt marshes of the Camargue between Montpellier and Marseille. Anyone who knows salt salines from excursions with grandma and grandfather to Bad Oeynhausen and thinks of ten-meter-high knotty-entwined branch constructions will be pleasantly surprised here. The salt marshes of the "Compagnie des Salins du Midi" near the small southern French town of Aigues-Mortes (approximate pronunciation: Egg-Mogg) are delightfully different: miles, seemingly endless shallow pools are only crossed by narrow earth dams. And the big hit: the water shines bright pink, the bank banks are pure white, the sky radiates in a deep dark blue. In short, I have the feeling of having landed in one of these airbrush fantasy posters, which you could order in the Bravo at the end of the 80s. If there were still a unicorn slipping by, it would be great in the scenery. But there is still this Mistral, whipping the quite realistic smell of salt, sea and minerals through the landscape. And the truck, which uses a crane to transport a sack weighing several hundred kilos to the back of the truck. So it's all very real.

They are working hard here. A dozen young men stand in one of the ponds on the snow-white edge of the river and with their pure muscular strength shovel something very special into stately rose-colored pyramids: Fleur de Sel - the flower of salt. The harvest is in full swing.

Only a few weeks a year, the Fleur de Sel can be harvested. This requires several months of meticulous preparatory work, planning and a tremendous amount of experience of the salt farmers - the "Paludier" - necessary. Salt production is based on what nature provides: seawater, sun and wind. The seawater is channeled through a wide-channel system into huge shallow pools near the sea and evaporates there for months by heat and air movement. From time to time, some new seawater is added - the Paludier determine on the basis of years of experience and close observation of how much has to be forwarded. This happens individually per pool via small wooden locks. And only when the temperature is high enough, the salinity of the water ideal and the mistral in the right amount is added, something very special happens: the Fleur de Sel settles in mid-July in large crystals on the water surface and blows to so-called "salt Flower".There were also crops where the weather did not play and the Fleur de Sel did not want to form. But this year things are going well: the young men are shoveling new pink Fleur-de-Sel pyramids to shore.

Oh yes, that pink. Salt extraction from seawater proceeds entirely without the addition of any other substances. This is what makes the high quality, the taste and the many natural trace elements in Fleur de Sel. The incredible pink in the water is also formed in a very natural way: when the seawater of the Atlantic is introduced fresh into the salt pans, it has a salinity of 29 grams per liter. Due to the evaporation, the salinity of the water increases continuously. A tiny micro-algae, made up of 80% beta-carotene, loves the high salt content and rapidly proliferates below this ideal conditions for them. At some point, there are so many algae in the water shortly before the salt harvest that it glows beautifully pink. By the way, the salinity of the water is 260 grams per liter.

But the small beta carotene alga is not just responsible for the great color of the water. Tiny crabs especially like to eat the pink alga. And multiply accordingly well. The birds find it wonderful and use the salt ponds as a nature reserve with endless feeding supplies. A species of bird especially benefits from the algae and crabs: flamingos. They eat the crabs, which in turn have eaten the algae - and as a result, their plumage turns attractive pink. In the Camargue one can observe among other things the African flamingos, which with their size of up to 1.70 meters are quite amazing phenomena. If a group raises flamingos off the ground and swings into the azure sky, that's a great and memorable moment ...

Also the freshly harvested Fleur de Sel brings a delicate, pink shimmer. And crazy, a wonderful intense violet fragrance! The moisture content of the salt is 20% after harvest. You can use it immediately in the kitchen. For export, however, the moisture content must be reduced to 2%. For this, the Fleur de Sel stores for a year in large, air-permeable bags. Thereafter it is bottled without further production processes and e.g. sold as "Fleur de Sel Le Saunier de Camargue" in the well-known round cardboard boxes with cork lid.

After the Fleur-de-Sel harvest there is still a lot of salt in the basin - about 10 cm Thick it has deposited on the ground and sparkles like a snowfield in the sun. It is harvested from mid-August and then comes as naturally sourced sea salt, e.g. as "Sel de Mer Baleine" in various grains and varieties trade.

Not far from our pink Fleur-de.Sel basin, we learn about another purpose: Imposing white hills light up from far away - salt piles! Here lies the salt, which is destined for a completely different use: snowy and icy roads all over the world. Climbing one of the heaps at least 30 degrees in the shade is not quite exhausting.The sun is burning and I'm really happy to be able to conjure my famous thin all-purpose cloth out of my pocket and put it over my head and shoulders. A felt march through the Sahara later, there is the reward: From here you have a wonderful view over the salt lakes and the landscape of the Camargue.

A little later we return to the magical and bustling town of Aigues - Mortes. But there's another story to tell about a delicious menu of Fleur de Sel and a beach picnic in the middle of nowhere.

PS: Those who enjoy the wonderful views over the Camargue and salt-salt mines or the To visit Salzernte can book a tour in the visitor center and explore the area with a small tourist train. As appropriate clothing, I absolutely recommend pants, ne. And those who would like to try delicious recipes with Fleur de Sel, will find here, among other things.

PPS: A big thank you to the Compagnie des Salins du Midi for the invitation and opportunity to visit the salt marshes and insights into And, of course, for the patience to answer endless questions.