10 Things To Do In Aigues Mortes – Is It Worth Visiting?

South of France — it is the place I always recommend to my friends whenever they ask me, “where are the most beautiful destinations in France?” With the wide range of beautiful attractions and bucket list experiences, the South of France is undoubtedly worth their money and time!

Aigues Mortes is one of the South of France’s spectacular villages you must consider visiting. It is a time-transporting place encompassed by imposing medieval walls and surrounded by fascinating attractions. 

But does it mean that Aigues Mortes is worth visiting? What are the attractions, the things you can do & see in Aigues Mortes? You don’t need to go elsewhere because I’ll answer them in this blog post.

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In this article, I will not only enumerate the top attractions within and around Aigues Mortes. I will tell you the unmissable part of each experience in Aigues Mortes, why you should try, and of course, some practical information.

By the end of the blog post, you should have learned many things about Aigues Mortes that you can decide for yourself if you should visit or not. But if you still can’t decide, I’ll let you know my opinion if Aigues Mortes is worth it.

Links to the official websites of the attractions in Aigues Mortes are on this page. So if you need the latest and official information, this post can be your directory too.

This post is jam-packed with information. So, if you find this helpful, please share it with your friends or pin this post to Pinterest! Happy reading.

Let me start by giving my opinion and answering the question that most travelers are asking:

Is Aigues-Mortes Worth Visiting?

Definitely! Aigues-Mortes is worth visiting. Surrounded by natural wonders and fascinating wildlife, the overall experience of visiting Aigues-Mortes is more than just being impressed by its preserved medieval walls. The ramparts, pink sea, flamingoes, white horse, cowboy culture, and sandy beaches also make a visit to Aigues-Mortes worth it.

History enthusiasts, animal & nature lovers, and family vacationers are the travelers who will really enjoy visiting Aigues-Mortes. And suppose you’re like me, who lives on the other side of the world, a place with a totally different culture. In that case, you might also find the culture in Camargue very interesting.

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Where is Aigues-Mortes?

We all have different preferences regarding the travel destinations we include in our itineraries. But, there are two things (I believe) we never miss to consider when choosing them — access and location.

That’s very true for me! Like, I always look for whether a destination has public transportation. Although I can drive, I often prefer bus and train rides. They’re budget-friendly, and I learn the culture of the locals. 

Going back to Aigues-Mortes… Since the location can be a factor in choosing our next destination, let’s start with the question, where is Aigues-Mortes?

Aigues-Mortes is a commune (a township equivalent) located in the Gard department and the Occitania region. We can quickly find Aigues Mortes by zooming in the map to southeastern France, then into Petite Camargue (a natural region) along the Mediterranean coast.

You can quickly visit Aigues-Mortes using a car and public transportation from the nearby cities and towns like Montpellier, Nimes, Avignon, Arles, and Marseille. The travel time from these cities (by car) ranges from just 30 minutes to not more than 2 hours.

Aigues-Mortes has its train station. So, you don’t have to worry about visiting the village if you’re like me, who prefers train rides. Of course, travel time can be longer when using public transportation.

Here is the map of France indicating the exact location of Aigues Mortes:

As you can see, Aigues Mortes is located in France’s southernmost portion. However, it does not mean it’s totally impractical to go to Aigues Mortes or South of France (in General) if you’re from other parts of the country. 

France has a high-speed train to bring you there in less than half a day without getting a flight. Whether you’re from Paris or Lyon, visiting Aigues Mortes or the South of France isn’t a problem!

You may also want to visit Paris (10 Most Beautiful Places To Visit in Paris), Lyon (14 Reasons Why You Should Visit Lyon), and Avignon (Is Avignon Worth Visiting? 10 Best Reasons To Visit Avignon) during your trip to France. Learn more about these beautiful cities from my blog posts:

Now we know where Aigues-Mortes is. Let’s now see if Aigues Mortes is a destination for you by checking the attractions within and around the medieval village.

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Things To Do And See In Aigues-Mortes

Another significant factor I consider when looking for where to go next is the best experiences in a destination. Usually, I’m compelled to visit a place if it has natural attractions and historical value. Or as long as I can be filled with awe and wonder back in time.

To be honest, those kinds of attractions are the ones that led me to discover Aigues-Mortes. If you’re like me, I think you would like to go to Aigues-Mortes.

However, time-transporting landmarks and marvelous sights aren’t the only ones you can find within and around Aigues Mortes. There are more! Here is the list of things to do and see in Aigues Mortes to summarize our following discussions:

  1. To Explore Notable Heritage Sites 
  2. To See Impressive Medieval Towers, Gates, And Ramparts
  3. To Wonder With The Pink Sea Phenomenon
  4. To Photograph A Piece of History in The Marshlands
  5. To Encounter The Wildlife In Camargue (The French Safari Version)
  6. To Have Horseback Riding Fun
  7. To Discover A Local Culture At Mas De La Comtesse
  8. To Spot Fascinating Birds At Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau
  9. To Witness The Underwater Spectacle Of The Seaquarium
  10. To Relax At The Beach

So, did you find something that interests you? 

Aigues Mortes France, View of the gate during the spring season
View of the gate during the spring season

If not, I suggest you go to the “Is Aigues-Mortes Worth Visitingsection. There, I’ll give my opinion about Aigues-Mortes. In that part, you will also find a list of other villages in the South of France similar to Aigues Mortes you must also see.

If YES, nice one! I’ll let you know the details below (in the following sections).

Let’s kick off the list with the history and notable attractions within Aigues-Mortes.

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Explore Notable Historical Heritage Sites 

1 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Grey Penitents Chapel
Grey Penitents Chapel

Did you know that the South of France has a Mediterranean coastline nearly 700 kilometers (440 miles) long? From the Spanish-French to French-Italian borders, it can take you more than 10 hours to drive if you want to try!

Although the French Mediterranean coast is not as long as Italy’s or Spain’s, the history ingrained in this region goes as far as its neighbors. This is why there are a lot of historical attractions in the region. Aigues Mortes is one.

Legends say the Roman General, Gaius Marius, founded Aigues-Mortes in 102 BC. But one thing is for sure, Aigues-Mortes was built by a king who is now considered a Christian Saint. His name? King Louis IX

King Louis IX is the most popular Capetian monarch, the king of France from 1226 to 1270, and the leader of the 7th and 8th crusades. Aigues-Mortes was one of his most ambitious projects.

The main reason behind building Aigues-Mortes roots in Montpellier and Provence, owned by other monarchs during the reign of King Louis IX. The king had no choice but to create a port city where his crusades could pass, free from the goodwill of other monarchs.

So, in 1240, major construction took place in Aigues Mortes. Then, 30 years later, the towers and walls of Aigues Mortes were completed. Impressively, they still exist and make visitors marvel at their medieval architecture.

By visiting Aigues Mortes, you will be walking on the path where thousands of soldiers and heroes marched on their quest to reclaim the Holy Land. History lovers like me would be thrilled to have that thought in mind before visiting Aigues Mortes.

Then, if you go to the main square (see location in Google Maps) of the walled medieval city, you will find the statue of the king or Saint Louis IX (Hence the name Place Saint Louis). His statue will help you picture the scenes of the crusades he led.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Also, in Place Saint Louis, you find the church Notre Dame des Sablons, the oldest monument in Aigues Mortes’ medieval city. It is a 13th-century church that was the place where the crusaders were blessed by the cardinals before they left Aigues Mortes.

When you enter Notre Dame des Sablons, you can imagine the scene in which Saint Louis IX and his troops kneel before the altar as they receive the blessings. The place is solemn and simply beautiful, especially when sunlight enters through its stained glass windows.

Aigues Mortes France, Facade of Notre Dame des Sablons
Facade of Notre Dame des Sablons
Aigues Mortes France, Inside Notre-Dame des Sablons Church
Inside Notre-Dame des Sablons Church
Aigues Mortes France, Altar of Notre-Dame des Sablons Church
Altar of Notre-Dame des Sablons Church

By the way, Place Saint Louis is a pleasant small square with many trees, cafes, and restaurants (some offer alfresco dining). If you just had a long drive or commute, it can be a lovely spot where you can relax before seeing the rest of Aigues-Mortes.

Aside from Notre Dame des Sablons, Aigues-Mortes has two more landmarks or churches. They may interest you if you like appreciating artworks and architecture.

These two other churches are Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs and Chapelle des Pénitents Gris. You must see the latter. It has a stunning altar, heavily decorated with stuccoes worth seeing.

Daniel VILLAFRUELACC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is the exact location of Chapelle des Pénitents Gris in Google Maps. According to the tourism website of Aigues Mortes, the chapel is open for viewing from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm (March 11 to April 1); from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm (April 2 to September 30).

If you like historical places like Aigues-Mortes, one you must see is Reims. It is a city very close to Paris, and it has a MAGNIFICENT church where the kings of France were crowned for centuries! Discover Reims from this article.

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See Impressive Medieval Towers, Gates, And Ramparts

2 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Drone shot of Aigues-Mortes
Drone shot of Aigues-Mortes

There’s no other way to see the historic sites in Aigues Mortes we talked about previously without first seeing the medieval city’s imposing walls and impressive gates. Well, unless you drop into the center via helicopter!

Why? It is because Aigues-Mortes is still entirely encompassed with walls or ramparts. This medieval city is one of the few remaining human settlements in Europe to have such fortifications. 

Aigues Mortes France, View while walking on the ramparts of the medieval city
View while walking on the ramparts of the medieval city

South of France has several similar places, and Carcassonne is another medieval village I recommend visiting.

What makes Aigues-Mortes’ ramparts a unique attraction is that visitors are allowed to walk on top of them. Suppose you often fantasize about movies set in the middle ages. In that case, walking on top can be quite a surreal experience!

Aigues Mortes France, View of the medieval city from the ramparts
View of the medieval city from the ramparts

You can imagine yourself like a medieval guard assigned to watch over Aigues-Mortes as you stroll along the top of the ramparts. 8 to 9 meters high, these ramparts will give you a breathtaking view of the entire medieval city wherever you are.

Aigues Mortes isn’t as quaint as the other medieval villages in France. However, with the view of the tile-roof houses at the ramparts, you can still expect that time-transporting feeling.

Aigues Mortes France, View of the medieval city from a tower's window
View of the medieval city from a tower’s window

Did you know you can circumnavigate the entire Aigues-Mortes’ medieval city by walking through the ramparts? The ramparts’ only start/end or entry/exit point is near the Constance tower, located northwest of the village. 

The ramparts serve as the perimeter of Aigues-Mortes medieval city, and it has a length that stretches 1643 meters (5390 feet). It traverses several gates and towers of Aigues Mortes, which I consider architectural marvels.

Aigues Mortes France, Medieval architecture of Aigues-Mortes' ramparts
The medieval architecture of Aigues-Mortes’ ramparts

Suppose you decide to have a stroll around Aigues-Mortes’ medieval village through the ramparts. In that case, you’ll pass by five gates, five posterns, three corner towers, and two flanking towers

Exploring the ramparts isn’t just sightseeing views. The gate-towers of Aigues-Mortes have little expositions to teach you the history of the medieval city. 

Aigues Mortes France, Queen's Gate
Queen’s Gate

Overlooking the medieval village from the ramparts may sound exciting but don’t forget to see parts of the wall from the ground. Like, have you seen a portcullis (a heavy vertically-closing latticed grille gate) before? In Aigues-Mortes, you’ll see one in person. 

You can find a portcullis in Aigues Mortes in the Queen’s Gate along the eastern section of the ramparts, perpendicular to Rue Roger Salengro.

Aigues Mortes France, View of Constance tower from the ramparts
View of Constance tower from the ramparts

History-lovers should not miss the Constance tower, however. Back in the day, it was used as a prison for protestants when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. Today, fascinating relics and stories left by the victims can be discovered by visitors.

Visitors can enter the tower/ramparts from 10:00 am until 4:45 pm (actual closing time is 5:30 pm) from April 30 to September 1. During this season, visitors arriving past 4:30 pm can only choose to visit the tower or the ramparts. 

Aigues Mortes France, A forget inside the Constance tower
A forget inside the Constance tower

From May 2 to August 31, visitors can enter the tower and rampart from 10:00 am until 6:15 pm (the actual closing time is 7:00 pm). During this season, from 6:00 pm onwards, visitors can only choose between the Constance tower or the ramparts to explore. 

The entry fee is 8 EUR/adult. You may see the Centre des Monuments Nationaux’s website for more information (i.e., conditions of visit, free-entry conditions, and more).

Aigues Mortes France, View of the wall of Aigues-Mortes outside the medieval city
View of the wall of Aigues-Mortes outside the medieval city

You may need 2 hours or more to see and explore Constance Tower and Aigues-Mortes’ ramparts. However, with the views from the ramparts, I recommend allocating 3 hours to these attractions in your itinerary.

France has several preserved medieval villages and towns like Aigues-Mortes that can make our fantasies a reality. If you want that experience, you should not miss Colmar. The most charming town filled with colorful-half timber houses in northeastern France.

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Wonder With The Pink Sea Phenomenon

3 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, View of Aigues-Mortes from the pink sea
View of Aigues-Mortes from the pink sea

Previously, we discussed that you can climb the Aigues-Mortes’ ramparts and have an overlooking view of the medieval city. 

Guess what, it’s not only the medieval city you can behold up there. But also a spectacular natural phenomenon that happens only in very few places in the world—a pink sea. You can see it while you’re on the ramparts’ southern section.

Aigues Mortes France, View of the pink sea from the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes
View of the pink sea from the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes is a time-transporting “magical” place to visit, don’t you agree?

Of course, the pink sea of Aigues-Mortes isn’t magic at all. There’s a scientific explanation for this, and it has to do with the high deposit of salt in Camargue and the animal food chain

Basically, there are three organisms involved: 

  • Dunaliella Salina – the pink algae 
  • Artémias Salina – the tiny shrimp
  • Phoenicopterus Ruber Roseus – flamingoes (YES, you will see flamingos when visiting Aigues-Mortes!)

Flamingos eat the tiny shrimps, which then eat the pink algae. However, small shrimps hate the high salinity of the seawater in Aigues-Mortes. In fact, tiny shrimps can’t survive easily in a very salty environment. They either leave or die.

The salty characteristic of the sea of Aigues-Mortes, in turn, makes the pink algae safe from their predators, the tiny shrimps. Therefore, the pink algae thrive, turning the sea pink

As flamingoes are home to Camargue, the little shrimps have a lesser chance of surviving! When the flamingos eat the persistent surviving tiny shrimps, more pink algae can live. Thus, the more pinkish the sea of Aigues-Mortes is.

The pink sea is a fascinating phenomenon, and you should not miss visiting Aigues-Mortes for it! The pink sea is called the “Salins,” which means salt deposits beside a salt marsh.

Aigues Mortes France, A mountain of salt and the pink sea
A mountain of salt and the pink sea

If you visit during the summer, the Salins turn so pink that sometimes it looks like purple already. Experts say it is because of the wind direction and the warm weather during that season.

You can even take the trackless train tour that will bring you even closer to the pink sea/Salins. The ticketing office is located along Canal du Rhone a Sete (road D979), 11 minutes walk or 2 minutes drive from Aigues-Mortes parking lot P5.

Aigues Mortes France, View from the pathways in the Salins
View from the pathways in the Salins

I linked their exact location in Google Maps, so you can quickly find them. Although not necessary, you can book your tickets online from the official website of Salin d’Aigues Mortes. Be sure to follow the instructions indicated! 

During the tour, you might see the flamingos splashing around, dipping their beaks “in search of the tiny shrimps.” Sometimes, they fly. You will also pass by spectacular white salt mountains rising 20 meters (66 feet) from the pink sea.

Aigues Mortes France, The pink water seen from the pathways in the Salins
The pink water, seen from the pathways in the Salins

These salt mountains were called the “white gold” during the middle ages. 

If you prefer not to book online, you can walk in, noting the schedule indicated on Salin d’Aigues-Mortes’s official website. The tours cost 11.2 EUR/adult and 8.70 EUR/kid. You must be there 15 minutes before your desired train tour departure.

Aigues Mortes France, Dusk in the Salins near Aigues-Mortes (Flamingoes everywhere)
Dusk in the Salins near Aigues-Mortes (Flamingoes everywhere)

Note: The tours are in French, though. I am not sure if they already offer English tours now. 

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Photographing A Piece of History in The Marshlands

4 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Golden Hour in Carbonierre Tower
Golden Hour in Carbonierre Tower

Natural attractions surround Aigues-Mortes. But before you see more, you can visit another historical site. It is called the Carbonnière tower, located in the middle of the Camargue marshlands.

If you’re from Aigues-Mortes, Carbonnière tower will only be a few-minute drive from the medieval city

Carbonnière tower is a gate tower that dates back to the late 13th century, built to bolster the defensive capability of Aigues-Mortes. It was once called the “key to the kingdom in the region.”

Well, as the most accessible way to the rest of France from Aigues-Mortes, (and vice versa) passes through Carbonnière tower, there’s no wonder it was called that way. 

Did you know that during the middle ages, the Carbonnière tower even had a portcullis? And the building was manned and guarded by a garrison of men. There’s no way that an enemy can pass, especially since the surrounding area is marshlands.

As the region progressed, more roads were built, and the Carbonnière tower fell into disuse and disrepair. However, in the 1800s, the Carbonnière tower was rebuilt and became a fantastical medieval landmark of Aigues Mortes.

Today, you can visit the Carbonnière tower to get more medieval encounters in Aigues-Mortes. Tourists can climb the tower and observe the unique landscape of the Camargue region, which the medieval guards used to watch over.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

On the top of the Carbonnière tower, you will find information boards explaining the things you’ll see in the panoramic view awaiting you there. Educational panels also tell the wildlife (flamingoes and white horses) roaming around the marshlands.

The history of the Carbonnière tower is written on the panel boards on the site. Even the details of the structure’s architecture are indicated (summary: the materials used in the Carbonnière tower are the same as those used in the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes medieval city).

Some panel boards in Carbonnière tower are only written in French. So prepare your smartphone’s translation app if you want an informative visit to Carbonnière tower.

Suppose you like to visit the Carbonnière tower. In that case, I suggest you do it in the late afternoon, especially during the Golden hour. There is a wooden pathway near the tower with Instagrammable views. It’s an excellent spot to play with your camera and take photographs if you’re a hobbyist.

Aigues Mortes France, Instagrammable spot near Carbonierre Tower
Instagrammable spot near Carbonierre Tower

The water in the marshlands is still and reflective. Sometimes, you can photograph the sky and the tower with the water like a giant mirror. 

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Encounter The Wildlife In Camargue (The French Safari Version)

5 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Wildlife near Aigues-Mortes (Camargue)
Wildlife near Aigues-Mortes (Camargue)

Camargue, the region where Aigues-Mortes belongs, is probably one of the best places in France to see unique wildlife. Thanks to its beautiful geographical location, filled with mineral-rich water of the River Rhone, Camargue became a haven for many animals.

The mosaic of lagoons that you’ll find in Camargue is one of Europe’s most important wetlands.

Did you know? Camargue has a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve that becomes the staging point for migrating birds during the spring and autumn. This place attracts thousands of bird watchers all over the continent to see them. 

The most famous birds, although not the only kind you can find in Camargue, are the pink flamingos. These 120cm(4 feet)-tall birds with slender legs, short tails, and graceful necks are fascinating creatures to observe. 

Aigues Mortes France, Flying flamingoes in Camargue
Flying flamingoes in Camargue

Of course, you can also find them in different zoos everywhere. But to see hundreds of them interact with each other, fly, and hunt for food in groups in the wilds is a simple spectacle we can consider.  

Aside from the pink flamingos, birds like white egrets, herons, and other wide varieties of waterfowls are found in Camargue. Bird lovers will indeed find a trip to Aigues Mortes worth it! 

Although I like nature, I’m not that passionate about animals. But if there are rare and special species to see (and fascinating ones), I’d definitely consider coming. 

Two animals unique to Camargue are the black bulls and white horses (Camargue horses). 

Aigues Mortes France, The black bulls of Camargue region
The black bulls of the Camargue region

Fun fact, the Camargue horse is considered one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world, and it is the species of horses that Camargue is known for. During their birth, their hair is colored black or dark brown. But, as they grow old, their hair turns white. 

Over the centuries of human settlement in Camargue, these two unique species played a big part in the formation of the culture around Aigues-Mortes and surrounding areas. We’ll discuss it later on.

Aigues Mortes France, Camargue white horses
Camargue white horses

There are many ways you can encounter wildlife around Aigues Mortes and in Camargue. You can just rent a car and drive around. But I won’t suggest that! The best way is to find guided tour services, as they know where these animals can be found quickly.

Tour companies in Aigues-Mortes and Camargue can let you experience wildlife in several ways. You can choose train rides (like in the Salins), electric bicycles, or 4×4 rides. For a safari-like experience, try the 4×4!

Depending on the kind of tour you select, the experiences can range from just spotting these animals using a telescope to actually touching them. After the tour, they often give you some local cuisine for a wholesome experience of Camargue.

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Have Horseback Riding Fun

6 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Horseback riding in Camargue

Previously, we discussed that there are white horses (indigenous to Camargue) around Aigues-Mortes. Encountering them in the wilds is only one of the things you can do with them. Horseback riding is another!

Are you familiar with those fantasy movies in which the characters explore the beach with a horse? When you go to Aigues-Mortes, you get a chance to create a similar moment of your own. 

Aigues Mortes France, View while horseback riding

But, before anything, I just want to share a video telling a profound reason why Camargue, the horses, and its caretakers can give you an experience like no other:

Several equestrian centers around Aigues-Mortes can give you a taste of that experience in Camargue. (Some offer carriage rides for a more relaxing way of exploring the area)

For example, one of the equestrian centers (see the complete list here) you can try is the Abribado Ranch. It is located in Le Grau du Roi, a 10 to 15-minute drive from the Aigues-Mortes medieval village. 

Abribado Ranch offers 1 to 2 hours of horseback riding along the Espiguette beach—anyone, whether beginner or professional, can try! Aside from the beach, you will be allowed to go into the surrounding pine forests and wild dunes near the equestrian center.

Are you a beginner? Don’t worry! You will be accompanied by a professional to guide you as you learn. All the safety gears are provided. If you have kids (3 to 8 years old), Abribado Ranch has ponies for their cute size.

If you want to learn more about Abribado Ranch, you may check their website for rates and requirements for a ride. (Make sure your browser has a translation function. The last time I checked, it’s in French).

Some local families around Aigues Mortes are so passionate about the horses that they managed to make it into a business, sharing their heritage with tourists. An example is Le Mas de l’Espiguette, managed by the Granier family for more than 50 years already.

They offer almost the same experiences as other equestrian centers, though. However, the guides in Le Mas de l’Espiguette can speak English and Spanish, which is excellent for people like me who know only a little of the French language.

You can check the website of Le Mas de l’Espiguette here.

Abribado Ranch, Le Mas de l’Espiguette, and more equestrian centers are located near the Espiguette beach, which by the way, is more than just a horseback riding site. It has a vast dune system home to different bird life (i.e., Kentish plovers and tawny pipits).

You can expect to see wildlife as you do horseback riding. 

There are also a lot of campsites on Espiguette beach. If you have spent the afternoon until the sunset in the area, pass by the Les Cabarets Equestres de Camargue. There, you can watch some horseback stunts and acrobatics at night.

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Discover A Local Culture At Mas De La Comtesse

7 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Manade

Locals in Aigues-Mortes and Camargue are indeed passionate about their animals. Some have even built businesses by growing and selling their graceful white horses or using them for tourism.

However, Camargue locals have formed bonds with their herds, more profound than just serving as their livelihood. These animals are integrated into Camargue’s culture, fused by centuries of coexistence.

Aigues Mortes France, The gardian on his horse
The gardian on his horse

Believe it or not, there are still a few that are lovingly devoted to their horses. It’s not hard to understand, especially since the horses have been the local’s companions, whether in war or work, since the middle ages.

It’s the intangible heritage I want to experience whenever I look for a place to travel. Passion, feelings, and connection with nature, animals, and other people are the beautiful things that define us, humans, right? Discovering a beautiful connection/culture is a soul-nourishing experience we must have when we travel.

Bull breeding is a tradition that we can still witness in areas surrounding Aigues-Mortes. It is also a livelihood that the locals can continuously sustain, thanks to the Camargue horses. 

Without the Camargue horses, the “manadiers” (the owner of a bull farm) and “gardians” (Camargue region bull herdsmen or Provencal cowboy) would have found raising bulls really difficult. 

Camargue horses have the stamina and toughness needed to lead the bulls to their enclosure and so on… They are a big help for sure!

Are you wondering where you can go in Aigues-Mortes or Camargue to discover this culture? You have many options! Several “manades” (bull and horse farms) in the region welcome visitors and share their heritage with tourists.

The most famous and closest manade to Aigues-Mortes is Manade Mas de la Comtesse. It is only a 10-minute drive from Aigues-Mortes medieval village or a 30-minute along one of the banks of the canals of the Rhone River.

Manade Mas de la Comtesse is one of the oldest farmhouses in Aigues-Mortes. Believe it or not, according to the Avignon tourism office, Manade Mas de la Comtesse has been there since the middle ages (13th century)!

Of course, you can meet authentic Provencal cowboys and manadiers raising Camargue herds in Manade Mas de la Comtesse. When you visit, they will not only share with you how they raise Camargue horses and bulls but also perform “guardian games with the bulls” in an arena.

Sometimes, gardians let you witness how they sort the bulls. They do it by doing “Ferrade,” a cowboy task to mark 1-year-old bulls with red iron. There are only a few of Mas de la Comtesse’s programs, and there are more.

Manade Mas de la Comtesse is an excellent activity in Aigues-Mortes you’ll love. It is, especially if you’re the off-the-beaten-path-type traveler looking for authentic experiences. 

Don’t worry if you can’t fully understand the French language. People from Manade Mas de la Comtesse can speak French, English, and German. Suppose you want to learn more about the farmhouse. In that case, you may need a translation-capable browser to read the farmhouse’s official website.

Important: Book your visit on their webpage. Online reservation is a must.

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Spot Fascinating Birds At Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau

8 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

Like the bulls and white horses, birds have a special place in Camargue where tourists can learn more about them. This place is called the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau, located 25 kilometers east of Aigues-Mortes’ medieval city.

Bird watchers, photographers, nature, and animal lovers must be excited to visit the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau. Because in this 60-hectare (148-acre) nature park, they can have some of their most spectacular encounters in the wild. 

Are you one of them? Yes? A wide range of flora and fauna unique to Camargue awaits you here, especially the birds. As the park’s name suggests, the Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau is a natural haven for numerous species of birds

The trails in Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau pass through swamps, lawns, saltmarshes, towers, and observation towers—all to let you see the birds in their natural habitat. Don’t forget to get a copy of the park’s trail maps, scavenger hunts, and topo guides before you start exploring!

On your visit, you will not be able to see these birds but also come closer to them. What’s so cool in the Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau? Sometimes, these birds ignore you. 

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

Suppose you want to be a wildlife photographer. In that case, this is the place where you can practice for some epic wildlife shots. Feel like you’re a NatGeo Wild photographer!

In other parks, authorities may forbid you to come closer to the birds. It’s the opposite in the Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau. In fact, it’s the park’s goal to bring nature to everyone’s reach.

The park wants everyone to better understand these birds so that people can appreciate them better and take care of them for more generations. The educational panels along the park’s trail should let you learn about the birds you may encounter along the way.

A soothing sound of nature will please your senses along the park’s trail. You’ll be relaxed by the bird’s chirps and tweets that seem like a song. It usually takes 1 to 1.5 hours to finish the trails

If you want, you can have a picnic in the park while listening to the birds singing. It’s an excellent way to rest in the park. But bear in mind that you can’t bring your pets inside

The Ornithological Park Of Pont De Gau is open all year round with seasonal changes in opening hours. The park is open from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm from April to September. Then, 10:00 am to 5:00pm from October to March. The entry fee is 7.5 EUR/adult.

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

Want to learn more about the park? Here’s Pont de Gau Ornithological Park’s official website.

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Witness Underwater Spectacle In Seaquarium

9 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Grau du Roi - a town 10 minutes from Aigues-Mortes
Grau du Roi – a town 10 minutes from Aigues-Mortes

You can expect an encounter with herds grazing in the fields and birds flying in the sky in Aigues-Mortes and surrounding areas. However, it does not end there. 

Nestled near the sea, you can also see marine animals on a journey to Aigues-Mortes. This is why, if you love animals, a trip to this portion of France will definitely be worth it!

Seaquarium is the name of the attraction where you can encounter marine animals, and it’s located only 11 minutes away from Aigues-Mortes by car. This sea park lies very close to Espiguette beach and the manades we discussed previously.

If you travel as a family, the Seaquarium can be one of your best options after exploring Aigues-Mortes’ primary attraction, the medieval city. Kids will surely marvel at the turtles, sharks, and other marine animals that seem to fly underwater.

These marine animals are from different parts of the world, but a large group originated from the Mediterranean and the tropics. More than 2000 fishes in different shapes, colors, and forms are housed in the Seaquarium.

Overall, the Seaquarium has 2400 square meters (26000 square feet), with trails equipped with interactive gadgets for more fun learning about marine life. The two parts of the Seaquarium I find fascinating are the Requinarium (the area about sharks) and the turtle museum.

Almost half of the seaquarium is dedicated to sharks. Around 1000 square meters (10,700 square feet) display sharks; some are huge sharks! Here, you can discover the kinds of sharks you never knew existed, like the Zebra Shark, Leopard Whipray, Guitar Fish, Spotted Dogfish, and Nurse Shark.

You should not also miss the turtle museum. I do not know for you, but for me, they’re the most gracious marine animal ever! How they fly underwater with their heavy outer shell–it’s wondrous.

Overall, it takes around 2 hours to see all parts of the Seaquarium. Do you want to visit?

The Seaquarium is open every day with seasonal, irregular opening hours:

  • April to July 11, September — 9:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • July 12 to August — 9:00 am to 11:30 pm
  • October to March — 9:30 am to 6:30 pm

The entry fee is 16 EUR/adult, 11.5 EUR/5 to 15 y.o., and free for kids below 5 years old. There is a family rate (2 parents and 2 children) of 49.50 EUR. Here’s the official website of Seaquarium if you want to learn more.

You can book your visit to Seaquarium using GetYourGuide and skip the long line!

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Relax At The Beach

10 of 10 Things to do in Aigues-Mortes

Aigues Mortes France, Sunset in Espiguette Beach
Sunset in Espiguette Beach

Of course! As a port town in southern France, Aigues-Mortes is never too far away from the beach. During the summer, the beach is definitely one of the things you would not miss. 

South of France has plenty of beautiful beaches like Calanque D’En Vau in Cassis, Plage de la Mala in Cap d’Ail, Pointe de l’Aiguille in Theoule-sur-Mer. It would not take you more than 2 hours of driving to find a pleasant beach to relax at. 

You will have unlimited choices of which beach to go to when you’re already in Aigues-Mortes. However, you do not have to drive or commute a long way to find one. In fact, the closest beaches to Aigues-Mortes are known to be the widest and sandiest ones!

The first beach you can go to is where the manades near Aigues-Mortes are, Plage de l’Espiguette (Espiguette Beach). It is a sandy beach that’s really wide and long. Both the sand and water are clean; it is shallow too! 

Aigues Mortes France, beach-goers in Espiguette Beach
Beach-goers in Espiguette Beach
Aigues Mortes France, Instagrammable fence in Espiguette Beach
Instagrammable fence in Espiguette Beach
Aigues Mortes France, Beautiful golden hour in Espiguette Beach
Beautiful golden hour in Espiguette Beach

Also, Espiguette has low-key vibes. It has very few facilities and restaurants, but there might be occasional vendors going around you can see. 

If you plan to go here, it’s better to bring everything you need. Especially since the parking lot can be minutes away from the best parts of the beach. There are a few paddle board rentals nearby, however.

The next closest beach from Aigues-Mortes after Plage de l’Espiguette is Plage du Couchant or Sunset Beach, located in La Grande-Motte. It is a popular seaside resort/port from the 1960s, 10 to 15 minutes away from Aigues-Mortes by car.

Aigues Mortes France, Sunset beach in La Grande-Motte
Sunset beach in La Grande-Motte

If you wish to commute, you can ride bus #606, servicing Aigues-Mortes and Montpellier. It has a stop in La-Grande-Motte. The buses come at an hourly interval, though. You may check Hérault Transport for more information or this PDF for the timetable.

Similar to Plage de l’Espiguette, Plage du Couchant is a long sandy beach. The beach does not have many businesses along it, but the amenities are just nearby (small supermarket and souvenir shops).

Suppose you are concerned about your safety (especially if you have your kids with you). In that case, you might prefer Plage du Couchant more than Plage de l’Espiguette, as lifeguards are present in the area.

Aigues Mortes France, Beautiful buildings in La Grande-Motte
Beautiful buildings in La Grande-Motte

Lastly, Plage du Couchant seems more Instagrammable, thanks to the beautiful white buildings with homogeneous modern architecture nearby. 

I just want to share… If you plan to travel to northern France, you should not miss Strasbourg. It is the capital of Alsace, Grand Est, and Europe! There’s a lot to see, things to do, and discover. It also has intact medieval infrastructures and a time-transporting old town perfect for feeding wanderlust!

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Other Place To Visit Like Aigues-Mortes?

Aigues-Mortes is worth visiting, but there are similar places like it which you must also consider including in your itinerary if you’re planning to visit the South of France. Have a look at the list that I created below.

Village/Town Name Features
Gordes A scenic hilltop village with a view of the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park.
Eze A romantic hilltop village with an overlooking view of the coast of the French Riviera
Rocamadour A breathtaking pilgrimage site and historical village in Lot Department. I really recommend Rocamadour.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie A village sitting by the foothills and nearest to the spectacular Verdon Gorge (Grand Canyon of France).
Aigues Mortes A walled village with imposing gates located in the wildlife-rich Camargue Regional Nature Park.
Carcassonne The village/town with 2 preserved medieval walls and 2 UNESCO sites. It’s also one of the most popular destinations in France
Chamonix The village/town with the most panoramic views of the Alps in the South of France.
Domme A quaint village in Dordogne Valley known for its honey-colored houses.
Saint-Paul de Vence A village in the French Riviera, home to countless artworks tucked in its preserved medieval narrow lanes.
Saint-Cirq Lapopie A charming village with half-timbered houses overlooking Lot River.
10 Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France

You may click the names of the villages to learn more. Alternatively, you can also read my article about the Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France for a brief summary of each village.

I also want to share with you the town called Annecy—my favorite city in France. It’s a scenic place that also has a charming historic center, where you can discover some history. I think that you’ll love hanging out at its lake (Lake Annecy). Learn more from my post “10 Reasons Why Visit Annecy.”

Helpful Links In Visiting Aigues-Mortes

With the attractions in Camargue and Aigues-Mortes, spending an entire day exploring would be very easy. For example, you can explore the medieval city in the morning, go horseback riding and relax on the beach in the afternoon.

However, considering the distance and location of each attraction in Camargue, it would be best if you have a private car. This way, you can efficiently spend your day at the attractions (and not spend your precious time just waiting for the next bus).

For tourists like me, who prefer not renting/using a car to move around for some reasons, joining a tour is the best option (unless you travel slowly and like to walk a lot).

If you’re from nearby cities (i.e., Avignon), you can explore Aigues-Mortes and Camargue with a tour or a day trip. For example, this tour to Aigues-Mortes and the Salins from Avignon includes entry to Pont de Gau Ornithological Park. (See all available tours here)

Finally, having nearby accommodation would be advantageous if you want to spend more time in Aigues-Mortes and Camargue. Especially if you want to relax by the beach and catch the sunset/sunrise or performances in Les Cabarets Equestres de Camargue.

You can use this link to book a hotel.

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Aigues-Mortes, France
Aigues-Mortes, France

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