The Medieval town of Aigues-Mortes is contained in a rectangular rampart, with corner four corner towers and a dozen towers along the walls, ten of which guard access portes to the town. The length of the ramparts is 1640 m: roughly 500 m for the north and the south walls, and 300 m for the east and the west walls.
The town of Aigues-Mortes was begun in 1240 by Louis IX (Saint Louis), and the first defensive tower, Tour de Constance was erected in 1242 to protect against any invaders coming across the wide, flat marshes.
Constance Tower was built on the site of a previous protective tower, the Tour Matafère, built by Charlemagne in the year 791 to protect the fishermen and salt workers in the marshes.
Walls and Towers. It wasn't until thirty years later, in 1272, that King Philip the Bold (Kings), successor to Saint-Louis, ordered ramparts to be built completley around the town, and it took another 30 years to complete the walls.
Ramparts, Tower Visit
The interior and top of the Constance Tower as well as the top of the ramparts all around Aigues-Mortes are open for visiting. Entrance is via the chateau, "Centre des Monuments Nationaux", in the northwest corner of town, at Place Anatole France.
Open daily: 1 Sept - 30 Apr, 10h-17h30; 2 May - 30 Aug, 10h - 19h.
Ticket office closed 13h-14h.
Closed: 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 Nov, 11 Nov, 25 Dec
Entry: 7.50€ (2016)
Constance Tower is visited separately from the ramparts. From the chateau courtyard you enter into the lower room of the tower [our photo], then take the stairs (136 steps) or the elevator to the top, from where the view is magnificent.
Descent is via the stairs only (the elevator might be available for descending if you request it at the ticket lobby). After soaking in the view at the top, you can go down the circular stairs to the upper room and visit that. Then more stairs down to a mid-level balcony that circles above the main room.
Then more stairs down to the main room on the bottom level, and back out to the chateau courtyard.
From the courtyard, stairs lead up to the top of the ramparts of the west wall, just to the left of Constance Tower. At the top you can go either left or right, to follow the top of the ramparts around the town in either direction.
Note: From 1 Jan to 31 Mar 2016 the north and east ramparts are closed because of renovation work on those walls.
The walk around the top of the walls is an interesting experience in history, and gives a wonderful view onto the roofs of the town and the marshlands and salt pans extending out in all directions.
The walkway goes through some of the towers along the way, passing as if through tunnels. The Porte des Moulins tower on the south wall has a mini-museum inside, and you can climb to the top there for another great view.
The walls on the north and south sides are 500 m long; the east and west sides are 300 m long. A complete trip around the town along the top of the ramparts is 1.6 km (1 mile).