Aigues-Mortes medieval city emerges from a amazing landscape, absolutely horizontal, made of brackish lagoons and salt marshes.
The Provençal word Aygue means "water" Aigues-Mortes are stagnant water, swamp surrounding the city. Since prehistoric times, inhabitants of the region lived from fishing and from salt exploitation. Saint-Louis decided the construction of the city for strategic reasons: the region was the only part of the royal estate bordering the Mediterranean Sea. St. Louis needs a port for a crusade, he went from Aigues-Mortes in 1248 for the Crusade of Egypt (7th Crusade), and in 1270 for the crusade which where he died. Aigues-Mortes was a busy port in the 13th and 14th centuries, but was soon overtaken by Marseille in 1481 when Provence was reunited to the royal domain.
The walls of Aigues-Mortes form an almost perfect rectangle, virtually untouched since their construction in the Middle Ages by the son of St. Louis, Philip the Hardy. They are 11 meters high and enclose the city in a rectangle of about 300 to 500 meters, within which the houses are spread in a checkerboard pattern around a pretty fountain. The Constance Tower, 37 meters high, was built by St. Louis to the location of the previous Matafère Tower, formerly built by Charlemagne to protect and prevent invasions from the Mediterranean sea. It served as a prison for Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, between 1686 and 1768. Marie Durand was the most famous prisoner in the tower, imprisoned at the age of 17, she was released 38 years later without having renounced his faith. You can still see the word "Resist" it engraved on the edge of the pit.
Although 8 km marsh separate Aigues-mortes to the sea, the city has not completely lost its port activity: a channel connects to Grau-du-roi since the Middle Ages, and the Canal du Rhône to Sète built in 1806 passes along the city. Salt production is still active since antiquity in the Peccais pond.
Information and accommodation in Aigues Mortes and nearby
Tourist office web site: www.ot-aiguesmortes.fr
Coming to Aigues-Mortes
GPS coordinates N 43°34’03’’ - E 4°11’36’’
Aigues Mortes geographic location : altitude 2 meters, 8300 inhabitants, 5 miles from le Grau du Roi, 8 miles from la Grande Motte, 18 miles from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 33 km from Montpellier, 44 km from Nîmes, 46 km from Arles.