Aigues Mortes, shows ramparts, statue of Saint Louis

Aigues Mortes in the Camargue was an important sea port and the setting off point for several of the thirteenth century crusades. But silt from the Rhône blocked the sea channels and the trade transferred to Sète and Marseille. Much the same story as with the Cinque Ports on the English Channel. Thus Aigues Mortes remains a curiosity, relatively untouched by development (though the city authorised the demolition of a thirteenth century building as recently as the nineteen fifties).

We enjoyed a stay in a comfortable hotel alongside one of the canals, with the strange juxtaposition of boats in an otherwise suburban view. The name Aigues Mortes seems to be derived from Latin meaning “dead water”, ie no running water, so no drinking water for ships.