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Fortified Cities of France

Updated on March 31, 2012

I have always been a little obsessed with medieval history. The castles, the armor, everything. I thought that anyone who is traveling to France should make sure to put some of these places on their "to go " list and get a real feel for what life was like in the dark ages. This is not a list of castles but of fortified cities that have a wall built around them.

Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes was founded by king Louis IX of France in 1241. He wanted access to the Mediterranean Sea for trade and their involvement in the crusades. To avoid attacks from the sea Louis had the walls build around the port town. They never were attacked and the wall was useless because when they were completed the town expanded to 15,000 people, which is three times its size today.

Aigues-Mortes, France
Aigues-Mortes, France

Arles

Arles was first settled by the Greeks. During the Roman Empire days Arles became an important port and centre of culture. The city was truly a Medieval city facing many confrontations. The Muslim Saracen and Viking raiders frequently stopped by for a quick buck. Later on the Franks took over.

Arles, France
Arles, France

Avignon

The city walls of Avignon has seen lots of action. The Muslim Sarasen, Franks, Ostragoths, all fighting for control of that part of the Mediterranean sea. The city also was the headquarters of the Catholic church in the 14th century.

Avignon, France
Avignon, France

Boulogne-sur-Mer

Boulogne-sur-Mer was mostly used as a centre of invasion of Britain. It was first used by the Romans to invade Britain and later it was fought over during the Hundred Year War between the French and the English. It was also used by Napoleon to invade Britain but was unsuccessful.

Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

Caen

The walls of Caen has experienced two major battles. The first time was in the 14th century when the English invaded the town killing most of its citizens. The fight over Normandy between the English and the French lasted 100 years. The second major battle was in 1944 when British and Canadian troops fought the Axis forces there. Caen was almost completely destroyed but was rebuilt.

Caen, France
Caen, France

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and probably the most recognized walled-city. It has seen many battles. The Visigoths took over the fortress from the Roman Empire in 462. Muslim Saracenes held Carcassonne for a time in 725 but lost it in 759. The city held out control of the Franks for a time but finally gave it up in 1067 through a marriage arrangement. During the Hundred Year War the English Black Prince was unable to take control of the town but instead decided to plummet the towns around it.

Carcassonne, France
Carcassonne, France

Dinan

Built by John V, Duke of Brittany in 1384, Dinan has everything a castle should have. A wall, towers, a moat, and a drawbridge. The fortified-city however, didn't see any significant battles.

Dinan, France
Dinan, France

La Couvertoirade

The small fortified-city of La Couvertoirade was established by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. It served as one of their bases until their dissolution in 1312 after which it was handed over to the St. John of Jerusalem society who build the wall around the town in 1450.

La Couvertoirade, France
La Couvertoirade, France

La Rochelle

La Rochelle was an important port city that gave access to the Atlantic Ocean. It was the site of the decisive battle that took place there in june 22, 1372 during the Hundred Years War, giving France an edge over the English. The protective walls made La Rochelle a safe haven for the Huguenots, a protestant group who were avoiding persecution during the French Wars of Religion (1572-1573). After its fall the Huguenots moved to North America to begin anew. During WWII the port was used as a German submarine base. It was the last city to fall when the Allied forces came to France.

La Rochelle, France
La Rochelle, France

Langres

Not much to say except that the city was fortified by the bishops because of civil unrest during the 14th and 15 centuries. The fortified city walls remain and they are a highlight to visitors.

Langres, France
Langres, France

Perouges

The fortified walls of Perouges gave the city autonomy from royal kingship. The city officially became apart of France in 1601.

Perouges, France
Perouges, France

Saint-Malo

The city of Saint-Malo is located on a small island in the Atlantic Ocean. Established first as a monastery the city needed to be fortified against invaders or pirates. The city soon became an independent republic and execised full autonomy. Because of this it made for the perfect location and safe haven for looting pirates.

Saint-Malo, France
Saint-Malo, France

Comments

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    • applejuic3 profile image

      applejuic3 

      7 years ago from San Diego, CA

      wow these cities look incredible. i want to visit them so bad, definitely on my bucket list.

    • profile image

      uliart 

      7 years ago

      We loved the fortified city of Fougeres in Britany. This is what Wikipedia says:

      Fougères' major monument is a medieval stronghold built atop a granite ledge, which was part of the ultimately unsuccessful defence system of the Duchy of Brittany against French aggression, and part of a tripartate with Vitré

      I can only recommend this town. Thanks.

    • James Mark profile image

      James Mark 

      8 years ago from York, England

      Indeed, a virtual tour to whet the appetite. We've done the Boulogne and Langres walls several times, as both towns were on our way to and from England when we lived in France. Both towns are worth a visit, though Boulogne has the added attraction of the port and beaches. I don't suppose we'll get to Carcasonne, though someone we know is moving down there later this year to pastor a church. Great photos.

    • Will Apse profile image

      Will Apse 

      9 years ago

      Langres is a fascinating town. The walls are incredibly high and the walk around the battlements has stunning views.

      The scale and luxury of the older buildings remind you that France has been a very rich country for a very long while.

      I have to mention the shops as well. They have the quality of goods you would expect in Manhattan or Chelsea.

    • euro-pen profile image

      euro-pen 

      9 years ago from Europe

      Very interesting hub. I share your passion for medieval history and especially castles and city fortifications. Nice selection of photos, too. Makes me wanting to visit some of the places right away.

    • profile image

      olurst 

      9 years ago

      you should add the location or the geographical details of each like it's in the South near the larger city of... even with approximate distance in miles from it.

    • bbjane profile image

      bbjane 

      9 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

      I love it... Checkout my travel hub: https://hubpages.com/travel/Top-5-places-to-visit-... . I hope you like it.

    • profile image

      canon cameras 

      9 years ago

      France is an interesting country to visit especially the fortified cities...nice hub

    • Jyle Dupuis profile imageAUTHOR

      Jyle Dupuis 

      9 years ago from Henrico, Virginia

      Thanks.

    • profile image

      Jan & Irma 

      9 years ago

      This hubpage was exactly what we were loooking for as we are planning to vit France shortly.

    • profile image

      valeria 

      9 years ago

      I have been in bolougne sur mer.. and i only can say it`s amaizing ! you should go!

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 

      10 years ago from london

      Jyle, you are a true master of HupPages. This one is just the top!

    • francetales profile image

      francetales 

      10 years ago from Toulouse, France

      France is unparalleled for seeing medeival sites.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Wow... I still have a lot, a lot to see. So far I've only been in Carcassonne, Perouges and La Rochelle. France is a beautifulk place to be in. I love it!

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 

      10 years ago from middle of France

      Bravo! Jyles. How about doing an in-depth hub for each of these cities?

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 

      11 years ago from DC Area

      Such a beautiful cities!

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