Travel
Did you know?
As saltwater flows from the sea inland through tidal basins and narrow canals, the sun and the wind evaporate the water, crystallizing the salt. Workers quickly collect the salt using tidal boards to stop the salty water from ebbing back out to sea.
Salt of the Earth:
Aigues-Mortes, France
Sea salt has been produced in Aigues-Mortes since Roman times. This medieval town just west of the Camargue in France is surrounded on all sides by turreted walls completed by Louis X in 1302. An important Mediterranean port town until France captured Marseilles in the 14th century, today it’s known for its salt marshes that glow red due to a concentration of microscopic algae called Dunaliella salina. It’s the same algae that contributes to the pink of local flamingos that feast on algae-eating lobsters. Monks ran the salt operations for centuries, and today’s workers can count back generations that worked in the same industry.
Chef Laurent Tourondel is a brand ambassador for La Baleine Sea Salt, a family-owned company founded in 1856 and bought by Morton Salt 20 years ago. This past July, Tourondel visited Aigues-Mortes to see the salt process for himself.

La Baleine holds a special place in Tourondel’s heart. Growing up in France, Tourondel remembers asking his grandmother for the empty salt canisters so that he and his friends could add wheels to them to make race cars. Last year, La Baleine presented Chef Tourondel with two handmade race cars.

What to do

See the quaint town from the ramparts. Walk around the town in 45 minutes, taking in brilliant views of the salt lagoons. Learn more at aigues-mortes-monument.fr/en.

Visit the salt works. Open to the public, the Salins du Midi salt company provides information on the inner workings of tidal ponds. Get there by train, bike, jeep, or foot. Learn about the history of salt mining at the museum, where Chef Tourondel gave a speech. More info at visitesalinsdecamargue.com/en.

Check out the local markets. Market days are Wednesday and Sunday in the old part of town.

Go to the Camargue. A regional natural park around the Rhône River Delta, the Camargue is home to a range of wildlife, most notably bulls, wild white horses, and pink flamingos.

Stay

Hôtel des Templiers
A charming, cozy boutique hotel in an 18th-century merchant’s house offering antique-driven decor, a funky outdoor courtyard, a bar, and a pool. Learn more at hotellestempliers.ellohaweb.com/en-GB.

Eat

Aromatik
Seasonal fare, the warmth of a bistro, and elegant fine dining from a local chef.
9 Rue Alsace Lorraine

Les Café de Bouzigues
Pretty, baroque decor, creative cooking, and a seasonal menu.
7 Rue Pasteur

L’Atelier du Nicolas
Modern, creative Asian touches in an industrial setting, with everything made from scratch.
28 Rue Alsace Lorraine

Le Patio’Né
Mediterranean cuisine in a contemporary setting.
16 Rue Sadi Carnot

 

Each year, Aigues-Mortes produces some 500,000 tons of sea salt.

Aigues-Mortes is French for “dead water.”