Why You Should Visit Aigues-Mortes: 10 Amazing Experiences

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Among the remarkable places in France that I am familiar with, the walled city of Aigues-Mortes stands out with its array of delightful surprises.

Tucked away in Petite Camargue in the South of France, Aigues-Mortes is a destination worth visiting, not just for its well-preserved medieval walls, but also for the captivating natural attractions and wildlife that surround it. Experiences like the pink sea, meeting flamingos, uncovering the cowboy culture of Camargue and its white horses, and walking atop its ramparts are just a few of the remarkable things you can enjoy when you visit.

There are precisely 10 attractions and experiences in and around Aigues-Mortes that I believe make this intriguing town worth a visit. In this post, I’ll walk you through each one.

Important: This article offers a comprehensive guide to the top attractions in and around Aigues Mortes. It includes detailed descriptions of each experience, reasons why they make Aigues Mortes worth visiting, and practical information.

The gate of Aigues Mortes

Let me be your tour guide to the beautiful Aigues Mortes for today.

1. Explore Notable Historical Heritage Sites 

Aigues Mortes France, Grey Penitents Chapel
Grey Penitents Chapel

Did you know that the South of France boasts a Mediterranean coastline nearly 700 kilometers (440 miles) long? Stretching from the Spanish-French border to the French-Italian border, it could take you more than 10 hours to drive, should you choose to undertake the journey!

While the French Mediterranean coast may not be as extensive as those of Italy or Spain, the history embedded in this region is as deep as that of its neighbors. This is why the region is abundant with historical attractions. One such attraction is Aigues Mortes.

Legends say that the Roman General, Gaius Marius, founded Aigues-Mortes in 102 BC. However, one thing is certain: Aigues-Mortes was built by a king who is now considered a Christian Saint. Who was he? His name was King Louis IX. King Louis IX, the most popular Capetian monarch, reigned as the king of France from 1226 to 1270 and led the 7th and 8th crusades. Aigues-Mortes was one of his most ambitious projects.

The construction of Aigues-Mortes primarily stemmed from the territories of Montpellier and Provence, which were under the rule of different monarchs during King Louis IX’s reign. The king was compelled to establish a port city through which his crusades could pass, independent of other monarchs’ benevolence.

Consequently, significant construction began in Aigues Mortes in 1240. Thirty years later, the towers and walls of Aigues Mortes were completed. Remarkably, they still stand today, causing visitors to marvel at their medieval architecture.

When you visit Aigues Mortes, you tread the same path that thousands of soldiers and heroes once did on their quest to reclaim the Holy Land. As a history enthusiast, the thought of this is thrilling before setting foot in Aigues Mortes.

Upon reaching the main square of the walled medieval city (see location in Google Maps), you will encounter the statue of King Saint Louis IX, hence the name Place Saint Louis. This statue aids in visualizing the scenes from the crusades he led.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Also located in Place Saint Louis is the church of Notre Dame des Sablons, the oldest monument in the medieval city of Aigues Mortes. This 13th-century church served as the location where the crusaders received blessings from the cardinals before departing from Aigues Mortes.

Upon entering Notre Dame des Sablons, one can envision the scene of Saint Louis IX and his troops kneeling before the altar to receive blessings. The place exudes a solemn and simple beauty, particularly when sunlight filters 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 charming small square adorned with numerous trees and home to various cafes and restaurants, some of which offer alfresco dining. After a long drive or commute, it serves as a delightful spot for relaxation before exploring the rest of Aigues-Mortes.

In addition to Notre Dame des Sablons, Aigues-Mortes boasts two more landmarks or churches that may pique your interest if you appreciate artwork and architecture. These are the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs and the Chapelle des Pénitents Gris. The latter, in particular, is a must-visit, featuring a stunning altar adorned with intricate stuccoes that are truly worth seeing.

Daniel VILLAFRUELACC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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

If historical places like Aigues-Mortes pique your interest, then Reims is a must-visit. Located in close proximity to Paris, this city boasts a magnificent church that served as the coronation site for French kings for centuries.

2. See Impressive Medieval Towers, Gates, and The Ramparts

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

There’s no way to explore the historic sites in Aigues Mortes that we previously discussed without first encountering the imposing walls and impressive gates of the medieval city. That is, unless you arrive in the center by helicopter! Just kidding. This is because Aigues-Mortes is still entirely surrounded by walls or ramparts. This medieval city is one of the few remaining settlements in Europe to possess 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

What sets the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes apart as a unique attraction is that visitors are permitted to walk atop them. If you often find yourself captivated by movies set in the Middle Ages, then strolling along the top can provide quite a surreal experience!

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

As you stroll along the top of the ramparts, you can envision yourself as a medieval guard assigned to watch over Aigues-Mortes. Standing 8 to 9 meters high, these ramparts offer a breathtaking view of the entire medieval city from any vantage point. While Aigues Mortes may not be as quaint as other medieval villages in France, the sight of the tile-roofed houses from the ramparts still evokes a sense of being transported back in time.

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 that you can circumnavigate the entire medieval city of Aigues-Mortes by walking along the ramparts? The only start/end point or entry/exit for the ramparts is near the Constance Tower, located in the northwest of the village. The ramparts, which serve as the perimeter of the medieval city of Aigues-Mortes, stretch a length of 1643 meters (5390 feet). They traverse several gates and towers of Aigues Mortes, which are considered architectural marvels.

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

If you choose to stroll around the medieval village of Aigues-Mortes via the ramparts, you’ll pass by five gates, five posterns, three corner towers, and two flanking towers. What can be more exciting is that exploring the ramparts involves more than just sightseeing; the gate-towers of Aigues-Mortes feature small exhibitions that provide insights into the history of the medieval city.

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

While the prospect of overlooking the medieval village from the ramparts may be exciting, don’t forget to observe parts of the wall from the ground. For instance, have you ever seen a portcullis, a heavy vertically-closing latticed grille gate, in person? In Aigues-Mortes, you’ll have the opportunity to do so. You can find a portcullis in Aigues Mortes at the Queen’s Gate, located 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 enthusiasts should not overlook the Constance Tower. In the past, it served as a prison for Protestants when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. Today, visitors can uncover fascinating relics and stories left by the victims.

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

You might need a couple of hours, or perhaps even more, to fully appreciate and explore the Constance Tower and the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes. Given the stunning views that await you from the ramparts, you might find that two hours just isn’t enough, especially if the weather is agreeable and not excessively hot.

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

If you want to visit the towers and ramparts of Aigues-Mortes, you need to know the following information.

The opening hours vary depending on the season. From May to August, the monument is open from 10am to 7pm. From September to April, it is open from 10am to 5:30pm. The last access is 45 minutes before closing time. The monument is closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

The rates are 8 euros for individual tickets and 6.50 euros for groups of 20 or more. There are also some categories of visitors who can enter for free, such as under 18s, disabled people, job seekers, etc. You can check the details of free admission conditions on the website.

Guided tours or audio guides are available for you. However, the tour doesn’t accommodate baby prams or animals. The monument is quite big and there’s a lot of sun exposure, so please wear proper clothing or sunscreen if it is too hot.

Here is the official website of Towers and Ramparts of Aigues Mortes.

France is home to many well-preserved medieval villages and towns such as Aigues-Mortes that can bring our dreams to life. If you’re looking for this kind of experience, Colmar is a must-visit. It’s a captivating town in northeastern France, known for its colorful half-timber houses.

3. Marvel at The Spectacular Pink Sea Phenomenon

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

In our previous discussion, we mentioned that you could climb the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes and enjoy an elevated view of the medieval city. Guess what? The medieval city isn’t the only sight you can take in from up there. You can also witness a spectacular natural phenomenon that occurs in only a few places worldwide—a pink sea. This sight can be seen from the southern section of the ramparts.

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 place that transports you back in time, wouldn’t you agree? Interestingly, the pink sea of Aigues-Mortes isn’t magical at all. There’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, which is related to the high deposit of salt in Camargue and the local 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 consume the tiny shrimp, which in turn feed on the pink algae. However, these small shrimp are not fond of the high salinity of the seawater in Aigues-Mortes. In fact, they struggle to survive in such a salty environment, often dying or leaving the area. This high salinity protects the pink algae from their predators, the tiny shrimp, allowing the algae to flourish and turn the sea pink.

As flamingos are native to Camargue, the survival chances for the little shrimp are even slimmer! When the flamingos eat the remaining tiny shrimp, more pink algae can survive, making the sea of Aigues-Mortes even more pink. The pink sea is a captivating phenomenon that you should not miss when visiting Aigues-Mortes!

This pink sea is referred to as the “Salins,” which translates to 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 become so pink that they sometimes appear purple. Experts attribute this to the wind direction and warm weather during that season. You can even take a trackless train tour that brings you closer to the pink sea or Salins. The ticket office is located along Canal du Rhone a Sete (road D979), an 11-minute walk or 2-minute drive from the Aigues-Mortes parking lot P5.

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

While it’s not necessary, you can book your tickets online through the official website of Salin d’Aigues Mortes.

Make sure to follow the provided instructions! During the tour, you might see flamingos splashing around, dipping their beaks into the water “in search of tiny shrimp.” At times, they might take flight. You’ll also pass by spectacular white salt mountains that rise 20 meters (66 feet) from the pink sea. These salt mountains were referred to as “white gold” during the Middle Ages.

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

If you’d rather not book online, you have the option to walk in, keeping in mind the schedule provided on the official website of Salin d’Aigues-Mortes. The tours are priced at 11.2 EUR per adult and 8.70 EUR per child. Please ensure you arrive 15 minutes prior to the departure time of your desired train tour.

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

4. Photograph a Piece of History in The Marshlands

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

Aigues-Mortes is surrounded by natural attractions. Before exploring these, you can visit another historical site known as the Carbonnière Tower, located in the heart of the Camargue marshlands. If you’re staying in Aigues-Mortes, the Carbonnière Tower is just a short drive away from the medieval city.

This gate tower, dating back to the late 13th century, was built to enhance the defensive capabilities of Aigues-Mortes. It was once referred to as the “key to the kingdom in the region.” Given that the most accessible route to the rest of France from Aigues-Mortes (and vice versa) passes through the Carbonnière Tower, it’s no surprise it earned this title.

Interestingly, during the Middle Ages, the Carbonnière Tower even had a portcullis and was manned and guarded by a garrison of men. The surrounding marshlands made it nearly impossible for enemies to pass.

As the region developed and more roads were built, the Carbonnière Tower fell into disuse and disrepair. However, in the 1800s, the tower was rebuilt and has since become a remarkable medieval landmark of Aigues-Mortes.

Today, visitors can climb the Carbonnière Tower for a unique medieval experience in Aigues-Mortes. From the top, you can observe the distinctive landscape of the Camargue region, just as the medieval guards once did.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Atop the Carbonnière Tower, you’ll find information boards that explain the panoramic view before you. These educational panels also describe the wildlife, such as flamingos and white horses, that roam the surrounding marshlands. The history of the Carbonnière Tower is detailed on panel boards at the site, including specifics about the structure’s architecture.

Interestingly, I learned that the materials used in the Carbonnière Tower are the same as those used in the ramparts of the medieval city of Aigues-Mortes.

Take note that some of the panel boards in the Carbonnière Tower are only written in French. Therefore, it would be helpful to have a translation app on your smartphone for a more informative visit.

If you plan to visit the Carbonnière Tower, I recommend doing so in the late afternoon, particularly during the Golden Hour. There’s a wooden pathway near the tower that offers Instagram-worthy views. It’s an excellent spot for photography enthusiasts to play with their cameras and take pictures.

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

The water in the marshlands is calm and reflective. At times, you can capture the sky and the tower in the water, which acts like a giant mirror.

5. Encounter the Wildlife in Camargue (The French Safari Version)

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

Camargue, the region where Aigues-Mortes is located, is arguably one of the best places in France to observe unique wildlife. Its beautiful geographical location, enriched by the mineral-rich waters of the river Rhone, has made Camargue a sanctuary for many animals. The mosaic of lagoons found in Camargue is one of Europe’s most significant wetlands.

Did you know that Camargue has a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve that serves as a staging point for migrating birds during spring and autumn?

This place draws thousands of bird watchers from across the continent. The most famous birds in Camargue, although not the only species you can find there, are the pink flamingos. These fascinating creatures, standing 120cm (4 feet) tall with slender legs, short tails, and graceful necks, are a delight to observe.

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

While you can certainly find flamingos in various zoos worldwide, witnessing hundreds of them interacting, flying, and hunting for food in groups in the wild is a spectacle worth considering.

In addition to the pink flamingos, birds such as white egrets, herons, and a wide variety of waterfowl can be found in Camargue. Bird enthusiasts will undoubtedly find a trip to Aigues Mortes worthwhile!

Although I appreciate nature, I’m not particularly passionate about animals. However, if there are rare and special species to observe (especially fascinating ones), I would definitely consider visiting. Two animals unique to Camargue are the black bulls and the Camargue horses, which are white.

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

Here’s a fun fact: the Camargue horse, known as one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, is a species that Camargue is famous for.

When they are born, their hair is black or dark brown. However, as they age, their hair turns white. Over centuries of human settlement in Camargue, these unique species have played a significant role in shaping the culture of Aigues-Mortes and its surrounding areas. We’ll discuss this further later on.

Aigues Mortes France, Camargue white horses
Camargue white horses

There are numerous ways to encounter wildlife around Aigues Mortes and in Camargue. You could simply rent a car and drive around, but I wouldn’t recommend that!

The optimal approach is to find guided tour services, as they know where to quickly locate these animals. Tour companies in Aigues-Mortes and Camargue offer several ways to experience wildlife. You can opt for train rides (like in the Salins), electric bicycles, or 4×4 rides.

For a safari-like experience, the 4×4 is a great choice! Depending on the type of tour you choose, experiences can range from spotting these animals with a telescope to actually getting to touch them. After the tour, they often serve some local cuisine for a complete Camargue experience.

6. Have Fun with Horseback Riding

Aigues Mortes France, Horseback riding in Camargue

In a previous discussion, we mentioned that there are white horses, native to Camargue, around Aigues-Mortes. Seeing them in the wild is just one of the experiences you can have with them. Another is horseback riding!

Have you ever seen those fantasy movies where characters explore the beach on horseback? When you visit Aigues-Mortes, you have the opportunity to create a similar moment for yourself.

Aigues Mortes France, View while horseback riding

But first, let’s take a moment to watch a video that reveals a profound reason why an encounter with Camargue, its horses, and their caretakers is an experience unlike any other.

There are several equestrian centers around Aigues-Mortes that can provide you with a taste of the Camargue experience. Some even offer carriage rides for a more relaxed exploration of the area.

For instance, one equestrian center you might consider is the Abribado Ranch, located in Le Grau du Roi, a 10 to 15-minute drive from the medieval village of Aigues-Mortes. Abribado Ranch offers 1 to 2 hours of horseback riding along Espiguette beach, suitable for anyone, whether beginner or professional.

Besides the beach, you’ll be allowed to venture into the surrounding pine forests and wild dunes near the equestrian center. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! You’ll be accompanied by a professional who will guide you as you learn. All safety gear is provided.

If you have kids aged 3 to 8 years old, Abribado Ranch has ponies suitable for their size. For more information about Abribado Ranch, you can check their website for rates and requirements for a ride.

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

They offer similar experiences to other equestrian centers. However, the guides at Le Mas de l’Espiguette can speak English and Spanish, which is great for those who know only a little French. You can check the website of Le Mas de l’Espiguette for more information.

Abribado Ranch, Le Mas de l’Espiguette, and other equestrian centers are located near Espiguette beach, which is more than just a horseback riding site. It has a vast dune system that is home to different bird species, such as Kentish plovers and tawny pipits.

You can expect to see wildlife as you go horseback riding. There are also many campsites on Espiguette beach. If you spend the afternoon until sunset in the area, consider stopping by Les Cabarets Equestres de Camargue. There, you can watch some horseback stunts and acrobatics at night.

7. Discover the Local Culture at Mas De La Comtesse

Aigues Mortes France, Manade

The locals in Aigues-Mortes and Camargue are truly passionate about their animals. Some have even established businesses by breeding and selling their elegant white horses or using them for tourism.

However, the bonds that the locals of Camargue have formed with their herds go beyond just serving as their source of income. These animals are an integral part of Camargue’s culture, a relationship forged 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 individuals who are deeply devoted to their horses. This is not surprising, especially considering that the horses have been companions to the locals, in both war and work, since the Middle Ages. It’s this intangible heritage that I seek when choosing a travel destination.

Passion, emotions, and connections with nature, animals, and other people are the beautiful aspects that define us as humans, right? Discovering a beautiful culture or connection is a soul-nourishing experience that we should seek when we travel.

Bull breeding is another tradition that can still be witnessed in areas surrounding Aigues-Mortes. It also provides a sustainable livelihood for the locals, thanks to the Camargue horses.

Without the Camargue horses, the “manadiers” (owners of bull farms) and “gardians” (bull herdsmen or Provencal cowboys of the Camargue region) would find raising bulls quite challenging. Camargue horses possess the stamina and toughness needed to lead the bulls to their enclosures and so on. They are undoubtedly a great help!

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’s only a 10-minute drive from the medieval village of Aigues-Mortes or a 30-minute walk along one of the banks of the Rhone River canals.

Manade Mas de la Comtesse is one of the oldest farmhouses in Aigues-Mortes. Here, you can meet authentic Provencal cowboys and manadiers who raise Camargue herds.

During your visit, they will share with you not only how they raise Camargue horses and bulls, but also demonstrate “guardian games with the bulls” in an arena. Sometimes, the gardians allow visitors to witness how they sort the bulls. This is done through “Ferrade,” a cowboy task that involves marking 1-year-old bulls with red iron.

These are just a few of the programs offered by Mas de la Comtesse, and there are many more. Manade Mas de la Comtesse is a fantastic activity in Aigues-Mortes that you’re sure to love, especially if you’re an off-the-beaten-path type of traveler seeking authentic experiences.

Don’t worry if your French isn’t fluent. The people at Manade Mas de la Comtesse can speak French, English, and German. If you want to learn more about the farmhouse, you might need a translation-capable browser to read the farmhouse’s official website. It’s important to note that you should book your visit on their webpage, as online reservations are required.

8. Spot Fascinating Birds at Ornithological Park of Pont De Gau

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

Just like the bulls and white horses, birds hold a special place in Camargue, and there’s a specific location where tourists can learn more about them. This place is the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau, situated 25 kilometers east of the medieval city of Aigues-Mortes.

Bird watchers, photographers, and nature and animal lovers will be thrilled to visit the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau. This 60-hectare (148-acre) nature park offers some of the most spectacular encounters with wildlife. If you’re one of them, a wide range of unique Camargue flora and fauna, especially birds, awaits you here.

As the park’s name suggests, the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau is a natural sanctuary for numerous bird species. The trails in the park wind through swamps, lawns, salt marshes, and observation towers, all designed to let you observe the birds in their natural habitat.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the park’s trail maps, scavenger hunts, and topo guides before you start exploring! During your visit, you’ll not only see these birds but also get a chance to come closer to them. What’s really cool about the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau is that sometimes, these birds just ignore you.

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

If you aspire to be a wildlife photographer, this is the place where you can practice capturing some epic wildlife shots. Imagine yourself as a NatGeo Wild photographer! Unlike other parks where authorities may prohibit you from getting too close to the birds, the Ornithological Park of Pont De Gau encourages it.

In fact, the park’s goal is to bring nature within everyone’s reach.

The park aims to enhance everyone’s understanding of these birds so that people can better appreciate them and ensure their preservation for future generations. Educational panels along the park’s trail provide information about the birds you may encounter. The soothing sounds of nature, including the birds’ chirps and tweets that resemble a song, will delight your senses along the trail!

Tips for your visit! The duration of your visit can vary, but on average, it takes about an hour or an hour and a half to explore the trails. While picnics are permitted, pets are not allowed in the park as per a Ministerial decree. The southern part of the park, which includes 2.8 kilometers of trails, is completely accessible for individuals with reduced mobility.

The Park’s reception office operates from 9 am to 6 pm from April 1st to September 30th, and from 10 am to 5 pm from October 1st to March 31st. However, you can leave the Park up until sundown throughout the year. A refreshment stand and terrace are available from April to October.

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

Aigues Mortes France, Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

9. Witness Underwater Spectacle in Seaquarium

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

In Aigues-Mortes and the surrounding areas, you can expect to encounter herds grazing in the fields and birds soaring in the sky. However, the experience doesn’t end there. Nestled near the sea, Aigues-Mortes also offers the opportunity to see marine animals.

So, if you’re an animal lover, a trip to this part of France will definitely be worth it! The Seaquarium, where you can encounter marine animals, is located just an 11-minute drive from Aigues-Mortes. This sea park is conveniently situated close to Espiguette beach and the manades we discussed earlier.

If you’re traveling with family, the Seaquarium could be one of your top choices after exploring the primary attraction of Aigues-Mortes.

Children will undoubtedly be captivated by the turtles, sharks, and other marine animals that seem to glide effortlessly underwater. These marine creatures come from various parts of the world, with a significant number originating from the Mediterranean and the tropics.

The Seaquarium houses more than 2000 fish of different shapes, colors, and forms. In total, the Seaquarium spans 2400 square meters (26000 square feet), with trails equipped with interactive gadgets for a more engaging learning experience about marine life.

The two parts of the Seaquarium that I find most fascinating are the Requinarium (the area dedicated to sharks) and the turtle museum. Almost half of the Seaquarium is dedicated to sharks. Around 1000 square meters (10,700 square feet) display sharks, including some quite large ones!

Here, you can discover types of sharks you may not have known existed, such as the Zebra Shark, Leopard Whipray, Guitar Fish, Spotted Dogfish, and Nurse Shark. The turtle museum is another must-see. I don’t know about you, but for me, they’re the most graceful marine animals! The way they glide underwater with their heavy outer shell is truly wondrous.

In total, you’ll need approximately 2 hours to explore all areas of the Seaquarium. Interested in visiting? The Seaquarium is open daily, but the opening hours vary depending on the season. For the most current visiting hours, please refer to the official Seaquarium website.

You can book your visit to Seaquarium online to skip the long line!

10. Relax at The Beach

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

Of course, as a port town in southern France, Aigues-Mortes is never far from the beach. During the summer, the beach is certainly something you wouldn’t want to miss.

The south of France boasts plenty of beautiful beaches like Calanque D’En Vau in Cassis, Plage de la Mala in Cap d’Ail, and Pointe de l’Aiguille in Theoule-sur-Mer. It wouldn’t take you more than a 2-hour drive to find a lovely beach to relax on. You’ll have countless choices of which beach to visit when you’re in Aigues-Mortes.

However, you don’t have to travel far 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 visit is near the manades in Aigues-Mortes, Plage de l’Espiguette (Espiguette Beach). It’s a sandy beach that’s incredibly wide and long. Both the sand and water are clean, and it’s 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 a low-key vibe. It offers very few facilities and restaurants, but you might occasionally see vendors around.

If you plan to visit, it’s a good idea to bring everything you need, especially since the parking lot can be a few minutes away from the best parts of the beach. However, there are a few paddle board rentals nearby.

The next closest beach to Aigues-Mortes after Plage de l’Espiguette is Plage du Couchant, or Sunset Beach, located in La Grande-Motte. This popular seaside resort and port from the 1960s is just a 10 to 15-minute drive from Aigues-Mortes.

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

If you’re planning to commute, you can take bus #606, which services Aigues-Mortes and Montpellier and has a stop in La-Grande-Motte. However, please note that the buses run at hourly intervals. For more information, you can check Hérault Transport or this PDF for the timetable.

Like Plage de l’Espiguette, Plage du Couchant is a long sandy beach. While the beach itself doesn’t have many businesses, amenities such as a small supermarket and souvenir shops are nearby. If safety is a concern, particularly if you’re with children, you might prefer Plage du Couchant over 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

Finally, Plage du Couchant appears to be more Instagram-worthy, thanks to the beautiful white buildings with uniform modern architecture nearby.

Before this article ends… Should your travels take you to northern France, make sure to include Strasbourg in your itinerary. This city isn’t just the capital of Alsace and Grand Est, it’s also considered the capital of Europe! There’s a plethora of attractions to explore, activities to engage in, and hidden gems to uncover. Plus, its preserved medieval architecture and charming old town are sure to captivate any traveler!

When to Visit Aigues-Mortes

Even though Aigues-Mortes and Petite Camargue in the South of France have a more pleasant climate than the North (it’s sunnier and warmer all year round), it’s not wise to visit whenever you feel like it. You need to think about the weather and what you would like to do there.

If you want to see the special sights in Petite Camargue, plan your visit between March and November to explore the salt lakes, or between May and June for a nice view of the pink sea. Try not to visit during the height of summer when it’s too hot to comfortably explore the village and enjoy the sights. Unless, of course, you’re planning to spend your time on the beach.

How Long to Visit Aigues-Mortes

Planning a trip to Aigues-Mortes? Your stay could range from one to three days, depending on how many activities you want to squeeze in.

If you’re mainly interested in exploring the walled city, strolling on the ramparts to view the pink sea, and visiting the Carbonierre Tower, a day should be enough. You could even make it a day trip from a nearby city if you prefer.

But if you’re keen to discover more of Petite Camargue and use Aigues-Mortes as your base, you should plan for two days. This will give you enough time to experience the local nature and culture, visit the bird park (Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau), and tour a manade. If you’re in no rush and want to include a beach day and a visit to the Seaquarium, three days would be perfect!

See the best hotel deals in Aigues-Mortes here.

How to Get to Aigues-Mortes

If you are flying to get to Aigues-Mortes, you can start at Montpellier or Nîmes.

  • Montpellier: Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport is the closest, about 18.4 kilometers away. You can reach Aigues-Mortes from Montpellier by car or public transport in around 30 minutes.
  • Nîmes: Nîmes–Alès–Camargue–Cévennes Airport is another option, about 27.9 kilometers away. From Nimes Airport, you can take a taxi to Beauvoisin and then a train to Aigues-Mortes.

As for getting around Aigues-Mortes, you don’t really need a car. The town is small and easy to explore on foot. But if you’re planning to visit other parts of Petite Camargue, a car could be handy. Just remember, parking within the walls of Aigues-Mortes isn’t allowed. There are paid parking lots and spaces around the city, and only the P8 parking lot is free all year round.

Easier Way to Visit Aigues-Mortes

Given the distance and location of each attraction in Camargue, it is indeed beneficial to have a private car in exploring the attractions around Aigues-Mortes. This way, you can spend your day efficiently at the attractions.

For tourists like me, who prefer not to rent or use a car for various reasons, joining a tour is the best option (unless you prefer to travel slowly and enjoy walking).

If you’re from nearby cities (such as 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 the Pont de Gau Ornithological Park. (See all available tours here)

Where to Next After Aigues-Mortes

What makes southern France a great place to visit?

The answer is simple – the tourist spots are nearby and they’re as captivating as Aigues-Mortes. If you’re looking for places that have the same appeal, take you back in time, and are surrounded by magnificent natural attractions, then you should check out my list of the 10 most beautiful villages in the South of France.

The list includes fortified villages like Carcassonne and hilltop villages like Gordes, Eze, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and Domme. You can also find villages that are surrounded by stunning natural beauty like Chamonix and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Just like Aigues-Mortes, there’s also Rocamadour, a village with a rich history and religious significance.

And don’t forget, there’s more to southern France than just villages. For instance, Lyon, a city that’s not as popular but is famous for its food.

So, that’s all I have to share about Aigues-Mortes. I hope you find this useful and have a great time on your future trips!

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Aigues-Mortes, France
Aigues-Mortes, France

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