Aigues-Mortes, Camargue

Camargue | Discovering Aigues-Mortes with the Family

Nestled in the heart of the Camargue, Aigues-Mortes is a picturesque medieval town that takes you on a journey through time. Close to the city’s ramparts, the Vaccarès pond offers privileged access to the wild nature of the Camargue, while at the Aigues-Mortes Saltworks, the tradition of salt harvesting has been perpetuated for centuries. Here are all the practical information and top recommendations for a family stay, discovering the hidden treasures of a region as charming as it is authentic.

Aigues-Mortes, Camargue

Aigues-Mortes in a few words

Aigues-Mortes, known in Occitan Aigas Mòrtas (meaning dead or stagnant waters), is a charming medieval town in Petite Camargue, located at the southern tip of the Gard department, in the Occitanie region of southern France.

With more than half of its territory occupied by salt marshes, ponds, and swamps, Aigues-Mortes comprises only a few hamlets. In 2021, this urban and coastal commune had a population of 8,685 inhabitants.

Aigues-Mortes is renowned for its well-preserved architecture, impressive ramparts, and salt marshes, emblematic of Camargue salt production.

Practical Information about Aigues-Mortes

How to Get to Aigues-Mortes?

Depending on your starting point, there are several options for reaching Aigues-Mortes:

  • By car: Aigues-Mortes is accessible via the A9 motorway (Languedoc motorway), connecting Montpellier and Nîmes to the west, and Marseille to the east. Several paid and free parking lots are available near the ramparts and outside the historic center.
  • By train: Aigues-Mortes does not have its own train station, but you can take a train to Montpellier or Nîmes and continue by bus or taxi to Aigues-Mortes.
  • By bus: Several bus lines regularly serve Aigues-Mortes from Montpellier, Nîmes, and other neighboring towns.
  • By plane: Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport is about 20 kilometers away. From there, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transport to reach Aigues-Mortes.

When to Visit Aigues-Mortes?

Aigues-Mortes is a destination that can be enjoyed at different times of the year, each offering its own charm.

With mild temperatures and blooming landscapes, spring is ideal for long walks in the Camargue marshes or along the city ramparts. In autumn, the temperatures remain pleasant, and the harvest season gives rise to numerous tastings and local festivities. During summer, attractions are in full swing: festivals, local markets, beaches, boat excursions, there is something for everyone. However, be mindful of higher temperatures and tourist crowds during the summer months.

Here are the main cultural festivals in the region:

  • Saint Vincent’s Festival: In January, this festival in honor of Saint Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers, features masses, processions, and local wine tastings.
  • Feria d’Aigues-Mortes: In late April – early May, the Feria highlights local bullfighting traditions with bullfights, abrivados, and bandidos, all accompanied by temporary bars (bodegas) and musical entertainment.
  • Saint Louis Festival: Held in late August, this festival celebrates King Louis IX, the town’s founder. Festivities include historical reenactments, medieval costume parades, street performances, markets, and medieval banquets.
  • Votive Festival: For 250 years, this votive festival has been one of the most anticipated events of the year in Aigues-Mortes. Taking place over 11 days in October, it marks the end of the grape harvest and salt collection, celebrating Camargue traditions such as bull races and bodegas.
  • Les Salins de Noël: during the Christmas season, the Salins du Midi lights up for the festive season. Numerous special events and guided tours are organized in addition to traditional Christmas markets.

How to Get Around in Aigues-Mortes?

Aigues-Mortes is a small medieval town with a compact historic center. It’s very easy to explore on foot, discovering historical monuments and enjoying the charm of its picturesque streets.

For families with children, a small tourist train runs through the town and its surroundings, providing a pleasant and educational way to see the main sites. Several bike rental points are also available in the town for those who wish to explore the surrounding areas, such as the salt marshes.

Where to Stay in Aigues-Mortes?

Depending on your taste and budget, Aigues-Mortes offers a variety of accommodation options ranging from charming hotels to bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campsites.

Here are some of our favorites:

Hôtel des Remparts Located within the ramparts, this charming hotel offers 28 spacious rooms with views of the ramparts and the Tour de Constance. Skillfully restored, the former military barracks combine vaulted lounges and contemporary decor with elegance and refinement. The added bonus: an indoor pool, a jacuzzi, and a beauty and wellness center in the heart of the hotel.

Hôtel Les Templiers Situated within the ramparts, Hôtel Les Templiers offers 12 elegantly decorated rooms in a charming 17th-century house. To relax after a day of sightseeing, the hotel features a swimming pool and a pleasant garden.

Les Suites du 17 In a pedestrian street in the heart of the historic town, an old town house renovated in 2018 offers five suites equipped with all modern comforts, centered around a large central staircase.

For an unusual stay, Nuits Salines offers a minimum two-night stay—from April to November only—in a cabin overlooking the salt marshes. For a total immersion, the cabins have neither WiFi nor television. For families and groups, two mas (traditional farmhouses) for 4 and 9 people are also available for booking. Visit here the story of our stay in the salt marshes.

What to Do in Aigues-Mortes?

Here are some must-do activities for families in Aigues-Mortes:

Visiting the Towers and Ramparts of Aigues-Mortes

The ramparts of Aigues-Mortes are one of the best-preserved fortified ensembles in France. Built under the reign of Saint Louis, they testify to the city’s strategic importance during the Crusades. With a height of 11 meters and a length of more than 1640 meters, the ramparts are impressive. The quadrangular enclosure, flanked by fifteen towers and pierced by ten gates, is a spectacular example of 13th and 14th-century military architecture in Western Europe.

From the ramparts, you can admire spectacular views of the town, the salt marshes to the south, and the fields to the east. With its 360° view, the terrace of the Constance Tower is undoubtedly the highlight of the visit.

Aigues-Mortes, Camargue
Constance Tower

Erected in 1242 by Saint Louis, who wanted to make Aigues-Mortes a strategic Mediterranean port, the Constance Tower housed the royal garrison. With a diameter of 22 meters and a height of 32 meters to the terrace, this tower is a real fortress-dungeon. Thick walls of 6 meters and a moat originally isolated the tower from other fortifications, providing a fallback space in case of attack. The Constance Tower served as a prison for several centuries.

Good to Know

  • Exhibitions, animated films, and interactive installations along the rampart route present the history of Aigues-Mortes and its fortifications.
  • The tour takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours.
  • The entrance fee is €9 for adults 18 and over.

Treasure Hunt in Aigues-Mortes

To explore Aigues-Mortes in a fun way, the tourist office has created two treasure hunt routes. The principle is simple: follow the clues, explore the monuments, and solve the puzzles…

Good to Know

  • This treasure hunt is aimed at children aged 6 to 14.
  • Each route takes about 2 hours.
  • The cost is €3 per booklet/route. Registration is done at the tourist office, Place Saint Louis in Aigues-Mortes.
  • Not accessible during the Saint-Louis Festival and the Votive Festival

Interactive Tours of Aigues-Mortes

For children aged 10 and older, the town of Aigues-Mortes has created an interactive tour called La Malédiction de Gaspard (Gaspard’s Curse). For over an hour, this adventure, which takes place on a smartphone and in the real world, invites teams of up to 5 players to explore the town to solve games and puzzles to gather all the clues.

Good to Know

  • This adventure requires one or more Smartphones with an internet connection (3G minimum).
  • The game is only available in French.
  • The cost of a game is €8.
  • Not accessible during the Saint-Louis Festival and the Votive Festival

For older players, Le Trésor Royal d’Aigues-Mortes is an open-air escape game that also lets you visit the historic city while solving riddles during a 75-minute mission.

Good to Know

  • The escape game is available for €8 via the QUAESTYO application available on Play Storeand App Store.
  • A minimum of 2 players (and 2 phones) is required.

Tour of Aigues-Mortes by Little Train

The Little Train of Aigues-Mortes is an ideal way for families to discover the city’s historic center. The train follows a 30-minute route that takes you past the main sites, including the Constance Tower, the Carbonnière Tower, and the Saltworks. An ideal solution for families with young children!…

Good to Know

  • Information and train departures in front of the Porte de la Gardette
  • Prices for the mini-train tour range from €3 to €6 per person.
  • The little train operates from April to October.

Walking Tour of the City

For those wishing to discover Aigues-Mortes at their own pace, the tourist office has created a 4-kilometer route through the city’s narrow streets. This tour is available on site or here in digital version.

For an absolutely decadent gourmet break during your visit to the city, head to Lady GlaGla 🤤

Visit to the Salt Marshes

Just 1.5 kilometers from the city walls, the Salin d’Aigues-Mortes covers more than 8,000 hectares of salt marshes, lagoons and salt dunes.

View of the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes

Salt production in Aigues-Mortes dates back to antiquity. Still in operation today, the site produces a wide variety of salts, including the famous Camargue salt and fleur de sel. During the salt harvest in July and August, you can take part in an introduction to harvesting flower of salt in the company of a salt-maker.

There are several ways to discover the Salin d’Aigues-Mortes:

  • Guided tours: During a 2-hour tour on foot or mountain bike, a naturalist guide explains the work of the salt workers and the harvesting of Camargue salt.
  • Little train rides: For over an hour, the little salt train takes visitors on a tour of the salt tables, the fabulous Camargue salt and its pink waters.
  • Self-guided tours: Signposted footpaths and mountain bike trails take you to the salt “camelle” and around the salt tables.

The Salin d’Aigues-Mortes is also a privileged site for birdwatching. Europe’s leading pink flamingo reserve, the Salin d’Aigues-Mortes is home to a unique fauna, including over 150 protected species.

Flamingos at Aigues-Mortes, Camargue

Activities around Aigues-Mortes

The Via Rhôna by Foot or Bike

The Via Rhôna is a cycling route that links Lake Geneva in Switzerland to the beaches of the Mediterranean in France over a distance of more than 815 kilometers. The section around Aigues-Mortes offers beautiful scenery and a chance to explore the Camargue.

From Aigues-Mortes, you reach the Mediterranean Sea by heading south (about 6 kilometers), while the majestic Tour Carbonnière lies a few kilometers to the north, amid ponds and reed beds.

Visiting a Manade

A visit to a manade, or traditional cattle ranch, offers a glimpse into the life and culture of the Camargue. It’s also a chance to meet passionate manadiers who are keen to help you discover their traditions and their unique land. Several options are available, depending on the manade you choose: in a towed trailer, in a horse-drawn carriage, on horseback or in a 4×4 vehicle. In summer, you can even take part in a Camargue evening, a veritable ballet of men and women gardians mounted on their horses.

To find out more about our visit to the Manade Raynaud, click here.

Pont de Gau Ornithological Park

The Pont de Gau ornithological park covers 60 hectares of marshes, lagoons and reedbeds, providing an ideal habitat for numerous bird species, including flamingos, grey herons, storks and egrets.

The park has a number of signposted trails enabling you to discover different natural habitats and observe birds without disturbing them. Observatories and watchtowers are also scattered along the routes, offering breathtaking views of the landscape and wildlife.

Good to Know

  • Park reception is open every day of the year (except December 25) from 9am to 6pm from April1 to September 30, and from 10am to 5pm from October1 to March 31.
  • The park stays open until sunset.
  • A café/terrace is open from April to October. Picnics are permitted in the park.
  • Trail maps are available at reception. Binoculars can be hired on site.
  • Admission is €8 per adult and €5 per child aged 4 to 12.

The Seaquarium

With over 2,400 m2 dedicated to marine life and tanks containing over 2,000 fish from the Mediterranean and Tropics, the Grau-du-Roi Seaquarium offers an educational and immersive experience for the whole family.

Several interactive trails have been designed to enable visitors to learn and enrich their knowledge, while becoming real players in the protection of the marine world. The Seaquarium’s star attraction is its shark tunnel, which offers a 360-degree view of the shark world.

Good to Know

  • The Seaquarium is open every day of the year (except mornings on December 25 and January1 ).
  • The Seaquarium is usually open from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. Open from 9.30am to 11.30pm from July 10 to August 31.
  • Admission is €17 per adult and €12.5 per child aged 5 to 15. Admission is free for children under 5. There is a family rate: €53.5 for 2 adults and 2 children.

Attending a Camargue Bull Race

An emblematic tradition of the Camargue region, deeply rooted in local culture, Camargue racing is a form of bullfighting where, unlike Spanish bullfighting, the bull is not put to death.

Camargue racing has its origins in the mid-19th century. Born in the arenas of Provence and Languedoc, it has evolved into a sporting discipline in its own right. Participants, known as raseteurs, take on the Camargue bulls in a series of challenges where agility and speed are essential.

To attend a Camargue race, it’s best to consult the websites of local tourist offices or nearby arenas, including Nîmes, Arles, Aigues-Mortes, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Beaucaire and Grau-du-Roi. Local festivals and férias are often the occasion to organize Camargue races.

Other family activities near Aigues-Mortes:

Located in the heart of the Domaine Viticole du Petit Chaumont in Petite Camargue, the leisure center Camargue Loisirs Aventures offers a range of activities including quad biking, paintball, crazy games, a Kama Lanta course featuring the legendary Koh Lanta challenges, and a Camargue Warriors course combining combat and ninja challenges.

Located on Lac de Vergèze, the water park AquaLol offers an inflatable structure on the water (180 people), 2 pedal boats for 5 people with slides, a private beach and a catering area with music.

Located in Saint-Laurent-d’Aigouze, a 15-minute drive from Aigues-Mortes, the leisure center Indiana River offers accrobranche activities, zip-line courses over the Vidourle, canoeing, pedal-boating, a giant paddle, an aquaglisse area and relaxation areas by the river.