Fortified town with 1.5 km of battlements
www.ot-aiguesmortes.com. Four-square in the salt pans, the walled town of Aigues-Mortes (Dead Waters) is laid out with all the precision of a typical medieval bastide. The saint-king, Louis IX, founded the town as an embarkation point for his crusades (1248 and 1270); while Philips the Bold and the Fair built the 1.5-km battlements, linked by 15 towers and ten gates, between 1272 and 1300.
It is an attractive place, and popular in summer. The tourist office organizes guided tours, or you can walk the battlements under your own steam starting at the Tour de Constance in the north-west corner. Once a prison for the Knights Templar, it later housed Huguenot ‘enemies of the state’. Just off place Saint-Louis with its cafés and plane trees is the Gothic Eglise de Notre-Dame-des-Sablons, rue Jean-Jaurés. Louis is said to have prayed here on the eve of his departure for the Holy Land, and the simple beamed interior is now lit by dramatic modern glass.