Today I got the opportunity to visit Aigues-mortes, a town in the South of France located about 45 minutes east of Montpellier. The city is surrounded by a medieval wall that remains preserved to this day. It was built by Louis IX in the 13th century to facilitate trade across the Mediterranean Sea. The city was also used in the Crusades as well as imprisonment of Protestant women during the Holy War. I was in awe to be standing on such historical grounds. In a place where unimaginable horrors happened, I was still able to see the beauty of what it is today. I was surprised that people live within this historical walls. After returning home and showing pictures to my host mom, I found out that one of her ancestors was a prisoner at aigues-mortes; I couldn’t believe it. We often view history from a very distant lens but this experience brought to life what I’ve only read in text books.
The city is very vibrant, as you will see from the pictures. The doors are painted different warm colors and the many variations of flowers add to the city’s beauty. As you walk through the narrow streets of aigues-mortes, you’ll see many different shops. The usual tourist kind, like souvenir shops, of course but also small antique stores with immense character. For instance, there was a small shop that sold tea sets and painting depictions of aigues-mortes all done by one french female artist. Her husband was in charge of the store. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the couples lives within the walls on aigues-mortes.
I got to walk around the top of the wall around the city. It took me about 45 minutes to make it all the way around. There was a guided tour at the end in which I got to hear more about the protestant women who were prisoned in one of the towers. Part of the guided tour was done in french and although I had a difficult time understanding all of it, I certainly felt the weight of this place’s history. I am by no means a fun of history but is this trip taught me anything, it’s that there truly is something to be learned from the past and we should not make the same mistakes. The parallels that can be drawn between what took place centuries ago in aigue-mortes and todays’ society are not only shocking but scary. If you have a minute, read a little about aigue-mortes and search for pictures beyond this post. I promise you, it will be worth your time.
Walking through the streets of aigues-mortes today, it’s hard to imagine the horrid things that happened there. Below are some pictures depicting current life.