Aigues Mortes

The finest walled cities in France

Cities still protected by their historic ramparts

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   To visit a fine walled city in France, there is no need to go as far as Carcassonne, way down south in the Languedoc. While Carcassonne is the most emblematic of walled cities in France, it is by no means the only such location, and in actual fact there are walled towns and cities in many parts of France, from the Pas de Calais to the Pyrenees, and from Alsace to Brittany.
    On account of its location in the heart of western Europe, France is a country which, historically, had changing borders and fragile frontiers, right up until the 20th century.  In the 17th century, Vauban, Louis XIV's great military architect, fortified many towns and cities round France's border and frontier regions. He frequently consolidated existing medieval walls city walls or ramparts; and his successors continued the work. Until the 19th century, France was still consolidating the walls and ramparts of strategic cities in its eastern marches.

   Before the age of Vauban, many French towns had medieval fortifications; a few of these, including such examples as Carcassonne, Avignon or Guérande, survive more or less intact - though renovated - to this day. In addition to the selection of the best walled towns and cities listed below, France also has many towns that still have vestiges of their former ramparts and/or city gates, and also a large number of small "bastide towns", mostly in the southwest. Some of these remain largely fortified, others less so. Walled bastides were built in the Middle Ages to provide a safe haven for people to live in what was, in those days, dangerous territory. For more information on these, see France's Bastide towns.
   Several of Vauban's fortifications are UNESCO World Heritage sites, as are some of France's older fortified cities.

The best preserved and most impressive walled cities and towns in France.

a) Fully walled or substantially walled cities

b) The best fully walled or almost fully walled smaller towns in France 
Plan of Neuf Brisach
Neuf-Brisach - Alsace. Fully encircled by its 17th century ramparts, and a UNESCO world heritage site. 
Walls of Aigues Mortes
The medieval walls of Aigues Mortes, near Montpellier
c) Other French medieval cities with substantial and impressive sections of the old city walls still intact.
Go further : Best walled towns and cities in Spain

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 Larger walled towns or cites
Smaller walled towns

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