Based in the Gard department in the Occitanie region is Aigues Mortes France, a medieval city surrounded by walls.
But before we get to that, let me take you back to the beginning of my day… Have you ever started your day on the back of a motorbike, screaming “OMG MINGOS” over your helmet intercom because you’ve just seen flamingos in the wild and you’re so excited and thinking to yourself “I’ve actually just seen flamingos” all smug and whatnot because there’s no way this day can get any better, but then it does because bam. Right there in front of you is the walled city of Aigues Mortes France and you get to go inside of it?
Because today I did.
I woke up in Montpellier after a particularly fine food feast, only to discover that the food coma I fell into the night before had caused me to oversleep my alarm. But it was no concern. A sweet receptionist let me extend my stay for a few hours so I could whip off to explore somewhere new.
Venturing past tram lines, shops, various neighbourhoods and along a motorway which saw the bridges and fields disperse as they were replaced with waterways. Waterways widened with each metre that passed, and as the full coastline came into view, there I was: sat comfortably on the back of a motorbike screaming “OMG MINGOS” over my helmet intercom because I had just seen flamingos. In. The. Frickin. Wild. And I didn’t think there was any way this day could get better, but then it did. Because right in front of me was the walled city of Aigues Mortes France and I was going inside.
Aigues Mortes is located just a few miles outside of Montpellier’s main centre and is a French commune with some incredibly well-preserved medieval walls. Rumour has it that the city’s foundations were laid as early as 102 BC, but there’s no evidence to support this outside of a few ill-sourced articles and so the origins of its foundry remain a mystery. What’s not a mystery though, is how gorgeous it is, and because it’s open to the public I was able to see it for myself.
Before venturing inside to explore the little nooks and crannies, I took a lap of the walls to establish just how big Aigues Mortes is.
Turns out it’s pretty chuffin’ big!
As I stood there snapping away, I noticed that just behind me was a pink lake… I kid you not! It’s called Salon d’Aigues Mortes and the colours are the stuff that Instagram grids are made of, but unfortunately, because I’m not 12ft tall and we didn’t have a drone with us, I couldn’t get a decent photo of it. So it was back to play inside the walled-in city.
Outside the front of Aigues Mortes is a car park which, thanks to a massive gap between the bollards, I was able to ride straight into free of charge #MotorbikePerks. The only downside was that there was nowhere private to change from my motorbike gear—and because I didn’t want to walk miles in protective gear to get changed and then walk back again to store it in the panniers, I hid behind some cars and a hop skip and a jump later I went from being in head to toe bike gear to this:
Just opposite the car park was a house with gorgeous shutters, with the resident enjoying a cigarette on his balconette. I waited for him to finish then snapped a shot because honestly, there’s something about traditional-style houses that melts my heart.
Gorgeous though, isn’t it? And if you like older houses, shutters and pretty doorways, you won’t be hard-pressed in Aigues Mortes. Because inside the walls (that are totally secure enough should there be a zombie apocalypse) are rows upon rows of the most quaint shop-fronts and houses.
Every direction teased the promise of more properties, and as I wandered along the streets inside the walls, I became so enraptured by my surroundings, that I lost all my bearings and instead followed my nose… All the way to a meat shop with a tactfully placed leg of Jamon just teasing from the shopfront. Sadly the shop wasn’t open, but there were plenty of other options to choose from.
Freshly baked pastries spilt out of shop doors and baskets lined onto the streets, cured meats hung behind floor-length glass windows, postcard stations twirled in the wind and the smell of freshly baked goods danced around them. The aromas enticed you from every direction and, fresh-faced and hungry, I didn’t stand a chance.
I decided to walk around and see what was available before committing to a restaurant, but in the end, my nose chose for me. Freshly made crepes! Banana and Nutella if you’re curious.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have long to roam Aigues Mortes because, whilst the receptionist at the hotel graciously gave me a few hours extra, I was still in a race against check-out time, so after a few pictures in the square
And a quick stroll around the city
I bid Aigues Mortes au revoir before slipping back into the car park, I whipped my protective gear over the top and ventured off to see more of what France had to offer!