Though the name of this Medieval town, which literally translates to Dead-Waters, suggests a dead and uninteresting town, yet Aigues-Mortes is one of the most interesting stops you can make in Southern France.
Surrounded by salt marshes and having once been on the Mediterranean coast (a position which has changed over time), Aigues-Mortes has been a salt-mining commune for thousands of years. The salt mines and marshes can still be visited, and they draw visitors from all over the world because of their iconic pink waters, and the flamingos that inhabit them.
This commune has largely preserved its Medieval structure and architecture, so that entering it is a direct ticket to the past. From outside, you can see the walls that surround the town, and that were once used by kings as fortifications against invaders. Besides being a strategic point for Emperors and Kings, Aigues-Mortes can also claim to have been one of the few places in France where Protestants could live in safety after the Edict of Nantes.
Aigues-Mortes’ historical importance is evidenced in the structures it has kept intact. The Tower of Constance, for example, was built during the 13th century in the same place that Charlemagne himself had built a guarding tower. The tower stands above the city as a beacon of power and safety and is probably one of the most iconic historical landmarks in the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The Carbonnière Tower, and the Église Notre-Dame des Sablons are also some of the town’s most important landmarks. The entire commune, however, is a historical landmark that no history, architecture or culture lover should miss.
We’ll be visiting Aigues-Mortes on Ralph Grizzle’s June 17, 2015 barge cruise in the south of France.