The Camargue Cross (La Croix de Camargue)
In his later years, Hermann-Paul spent a great deal of time in the Camargue, a low lying region surrounded by the eastern and western spurs of the Rhone River. The Camargue lies south of Arles and along the Mediterranean. It is an area known for semi-wild bulls, graceful flamingos and ferocious mosquitoes.
Folco de Baroncelli was a wealthy aristocrat born in Aix-en-Provence and devoted to the region. He was an early protector of wild life. Barondelli was from an old Florentine family and poor guardian of his own resources. A marriage to the daughter of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine maker helped finance his primary obsession.
By the turn of the Century, "the Marquis" was his preferred moniker and the preservation of pure-bred Camargue bulls was his chief obsession. The bulls are one participant in the race camarguaise. Humans are the other. They run with bulls and attempt to remove ribbons attached to their horns. Spectators may bid up the value of ribbons in order to encourage humans to strive harder to collect them.
In 1909 the Marquis founded the Nacioun gardiano, an organization dedicated to the defense and preservation of Camargue traditions. Every organization needs and symbol and fifteen years after its founding the Marquis decided he needed one. In 1924, he commissioned Hermann-Paul to design the croix camarguaise.
The cross symbolically combines guardians and fishermen through the anchor which links the earth to the sea. The trident represents three major guardian virtues: the cross symbolizes faith, the anchor expresses hope and the heart represents love of the virgin Mary. If those symbolizations made the Marquis happy, then so be it. The cross was his commission.
The original cross was made by Joseph Barbanson, a black smith in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It debuted on a median strip along the old south-east exit of the city Camarguaise in 1926.