Aigues-Mortes Tourist Attractions
Famous for its medieval fortifications, the little town of Aigues-Mortes lies some 30km/20mi east of Montpelier on the western edge of the Camargue, the delta of the Rhône, which is here dotted with numerous lagoons. Two navigable canals, the Chenal Maritime and the Canal du Rhône à Sète, link the town with the sea, 6km/4mi distant.The town owes its name of the "town of the dead waters" (aquae mortuae) to the bogs and shallow lagoons of the surroundings. St Louis (King Louis IX) possessed no lands bordering on the Mediterranean, so in 1240 he purchased the region from the monks of Psalmody (the remains of their abbey some 4km/2.5mi to the north are being excavated). He then bestowed a number of privileges on the town, which rapidly developed and prospered in the field of commerce and trade as well as in the traditional spheres of fishing and salt-mining. The seventh Crusade in 1248 and the eighth in 1270 sailed from here. The building of the town walls, financed by means of taxes, was expensive and lasted - with some interruptions - from 1266 to the end of the century. At that time Aigues-Mortes had 15,000 inhabitants. It started to decline in the middle of the next century as the waterways gradually silted up, but nevertheless remained an important trading port until the end of the 15th C., when Marseilles was elevated to the status of "royal town".In the Hundred Years War, the great controversy about the succession to the French throne, the Burgundians, supported by England, conquered the town in 1418 and settled here. Afterwards the Gascons laid siege to Aigues-Mortes, penetrated the town one night and defeated the Burgundians. Their corpses were thrown into the southwest tower (now known as the Burgundian Tower) of the town walls and covered with salt in order to prevent decay.In the Wars of Religion Aigues-Mortes became a refuge for the Huguenots, but following the Edict of Nantes in 1685 its towers served as their prison.
The massive town walls of Aigues-Mortes contain over 15 towers and 10 gates. Inside the walls are the twisty and narrow streets of the Old Town.
Aigues Mortes - Tour Carbonnière
The 14th C Tour Carbonnière guards the only entrance to Aigues Mortes from the land side. The road passes through the tower, the gates of which used to be secured by means of a portcullis and mantraps inside. The little round tower, which protrudes from the top of the square edifice, probably dates from the 16th C, when the tower was in Protestant hands.