Between the city of Montpellier and the flamingo-infested national park of the Camargue is the unique town of Aigues Mortes (literally translated: “dead waters”). Located in the delta of the Rhône river this beautiful 13th-century town boasts some of the best-preserved medieval walls in existence. The town is surrounded by pink marches that provide for quite the photo opportunity.
A bit of History
The town’s walls came as a courtesy of Louis the IXth. He got tired of depending on the Italian maritime republics’ ports for sending troops to the crusades. Therefore he decided to construct his own port-town on the Mediterranean sea which would serve as a launching base for troops. Louis IX would depart twice from this city for the crusades during his lifetime. Once for the Seventh Crusade in 1248 where he departed with a fleet of 1500 ships for Cyprus. The second time he departed for Tunis for the Eighth Crusade. This would be his last as he died of dysentery on arrival in Tunis.
Due to his early and unfortunate death Louis IX sadly never got to see the city walls finished. Construction of the walls was completed during the rule of Louis XI’s successor Philip III the Bold around 1302 AD.
Our main reason for going down south was the salty marshes of Le Salin D’Aigues Mortes. We had heard of the Pink Lagoon in Mexico and Lake Hillier in Australia, but had no clue that such a natural phenomenon existed in Europe! The pink-ness is caused by algae. Guess who loves eating these algae? Flamingos! It had long been a goal for us to shoot flamingos (and with a bit of luck wide-angle one)…Vamos!
On arrival, we speed towards the water expecting a highly saturated pink lake filled to the brim with flamingos. You can imagine the immense disappointment when the water appeared a normal crystal clear Mediterranean blue. To make matters ‘worse’: the lake seemed to be inhabited by a bunch of disoriented seagulls rather than a flock of elegant pink flamingos. Luckily the castle walls look amazing and we set off taking shots of them. We shot up the drone and amazingly the higher we got the pinker the water became. So cool! The saturated blue of the sky and pink of the water with the beautiful old walls sandwiched in the middle. Truly amazing.
Aigues Mortes is a stunning place to visit. It is one of the highlights along the Cote d’Azure and rightly so. Other historic sites are close by, such as the Pond du Garde and the city of Orange. As for nature, you only have to step outside the beautiful city walls. For some intense flamingo spotting the Parc Ornithologique Pont de Gau is just a 20-minute drive away. This will surely satisfy any flamingo needs!