A few summers ago when I was still working for Contiki, I went on a river cruise to the South of France. One of the excursions was olive oil tasting at the Moulin Saint Jean Olive Farm located in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It was a family olive farm, passed down from the generations to two sisters, and is now the only female owned & operated olive farm in France! In the gift shop and around the farmhouse, I kept noticing a beautiful emblem of a crossed heart anchor.
After the olive oil farm we traveled to Les Baux-de-Provence, a Medieval village that sits atop a fortified rocky site in the Alpilles mountains, with stunning views of Arles and la Camargue. Again in the gift shops I noticed this same emblem. It wasn't until I returned home and starting going through my pictures, that I finally discovered what the anchor meant.
Here is what I've learned, and here is the adorable little dog I met at the Olive Oil Farm, I hope you enjoy!
The Origin of the CamarGUe Cross /
La Croix de Camargue
The Camargue Cross icon can be found in the South of France, by the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the emblem of the Saintes Maries de la Mer, the Capital of the Camargue region.
It was created by artist Hermann Paul in 1924 at the request of the Marquis Folco de Baroncelli. The emblem’s cross, heart and anchor represent three key Christian virtues: Faith, Love & Hope. The Maries de la Mer means “Marys of the Sea”, after the three Marys (Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome & Mary Jacobe) who were companions to Mary the mother of Jesus and the first witnesses of the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. They were said to have escaped persecution by boat with no sails or oars, and landed on the town’s shores.
The town is also home to an annual pilgrimage and gathering of the gypsies each May, to venerate Saint Sara, the patron saint of the Romani people, who is believed to have helped the three Marys. In the 20th century, the town became a literary and artisitic center and was a favorite of Hemingway, Picasso & Van Gogh. The area is famous for its wild white horses, black long-horned bulls and pink flamingos. The region still has a strong bullfighting tradition. The three-pronged fork or “trident” at the top resembles the tool used by local manadiers (cowboys) for herding bulls, while the anchor resonates with the local fisherman’s culture.
Photos & Designs by Andrea Peterson.