•Gard (30220) • Population: 5,000 • Altitude: 1 m
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
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 of Aigues-Mortes
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.
Tel : 0466 537 300; Fax: 0466 536 594
Wed, Sun mornings - Market.
Sat mornings, Summer - Flea Market.
1st Sun Oct. - Fête votive: feria, bulls.
Le Monument d'Aigues-Mortes
- Visit the Tour de Constance and the Ramparts
- Location: Place Anatole France
- Entry: €6.50; 18-25 €4.50; under 17 free
- Tel: 0466 536 155; Fax: 0466 537 998
Musée Paleo Passion
- Location: 33 rue E. Jamais
- Open: every week-end and on school holidays in April, May and June. Open every day from June 15th to September 15th.
- Entry: Free
- Web: www.paleopassion.com
- The Paléo Passion Museum presents you a splendid fossils and minerals collection coming from Europe. Dinosaurs' eggs, ammonites, tribolites. Exhibition of more than 700 pieces for the great pleasure of children and adults.
Musée de la Torture
- Location: 3 rue de la République
- Entry: €7.00
- Tel: 0611 977 083
- An unique and international famous in the world exhibition. A visual synthesis of the torture story and its very impressive organ. Several inventions to torture and kill.
Department 30, Gard Buses
- See Beyond's Gard Department Bus Schedules for Gard bus-lines maps and bus-line schedules (Horaires).
Maps (Plans) for the Gard bus lines are on the www.edgard.fr website, with a flash webpage for each of five zones around Nîmes (www.edgard-transport.fr/plan/?rub_code=5).
Schedules for the Gard bus lines are available via the www.edgard.fr website horaires page (www.edgard-transport.fr/horaires/?rub_code=23).
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