Aigues-Mortes photo aiguesmortes0007s.jpg (7 k) Aigues-Mortes is a striking, walled Medieval town sitting on the flat marshes of the Petite Camargue, and is considered the purest example of 13th-century military architecture. It looks today pretty much like it did in the Middle Ages. The town of neatly rectilinear streets is surrounded by a crenelated wall with 5 towers and 10 fortified portes

location map for Aigues-Mortes area map
Dept: Gard (30)

Nearby: | Arles 44 km | Camargue | Marseille 140 km | Montpellier 30 km | Nice, France 300 km | Nîmes 35 km | Saint Gilles 37 km | Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer 35 km |

Hotels near Aigues-Mortes: | Aigues-Mortes | 30 km Montpellier | 35 km Nimes | 35 km Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer | 37 km Saint Gilles | 44 km Arles | 140 km Marseille |

Aigues-Mortes was built in the 13th century as a port, but access to the sea was via a canal dug through the ponds and marshes of the Camargue.

The Constance Tower (Tour de Constance) is an impressively massive tower [Photo 4] in the northern corner of the walls, built by Louis on the ruins of the old Matafère Tower of Charlemagne. The original purpose of the Constance Tower was to protect the town and the port. It later became infamous as a state prison, favored by the Huguenots.

Aigues-Mortes was protected from land attack by its location in the marshes. Louis IX had a road built across the marshes to the north, and defended it with the Carbonnière Tower.

History

Name

First record, 10th century Ayga Mortas (dead waters, referring to the surrounding expanses of swamps and marshes).

Gallo-Roman: Marius Caius had a town here around 102 BC, and Gallo-Roman ruins have been discovered beneath the ancient Abbey.

Medieval: The Psalmody Abbey located here since the 5th century was obtained by Louis IX in the 13th century. Louis IX (Saint Louis) built the port here in 1240 so France would have a Mediterranean port for commerce and to launch his Crusades. Until this time, all the other towns along the southern coast were owned by the king of Aragon, the Germanic emperor and the Pope. The town, that had belonged to the monks, grew quickly with the Royal privileges, including unlimited salt and no taxes.

Crusades. Louis IX launched the Seventh Crusade from Aigues-Mortes in 1248. He launched the Eight Crusade in July 1270, and died near Tunis on 25 August.

The town's fortifications, that give it such character today, were built by the next two kings of France: Philip III (the Bold) and Philip IV (the Fair). Following a century of Royal privilege, the port area of Aigues-Mortes silted up and the town fell into neglect.

The Constance Tower served as a state prison, first by the Templiers and then by the Huguenots. The Protestant Marie Duran was held prisoner there for 38 years in the 18th century.

Office de Tourisme

Tel : 0466 537 300; Fax: 0466 536 594

Web: www.ot-aiguesmortes.fr

Email: info@ot-aiguesmortes.fr

Dates

Wed, Sun mornings - Market.
Sat mornings, Summer - Flea Market.
1st Sun Oct. - Fête votive: feria, bulls.

Museum

Transportation Aigues-Mortes

Bus


Tours Aigues-Mortes

Nature

Camargue Découverte

4x4 (Jeep) tours of the Camargue, departing from Arles, Aigues-Mortes, Le Grau-du-Roi, Port Camargue or La Grande Motte. All year, by reservation.

Location: 24, rue Porte de Laure; 13200 Arles

Web: www.camargue-decouverte.camargue.fr/pages/activites.html

External Links

Lodging - Hotels