I know that I had written that Arles, though a tiny city, is bulging with history. You feel it walking through all of the little side streets, you see it in the architecture, I sensed it in the air. Arles felt heavy, the Romans, the Cathars, the Catholics and the Franks, you can feel their presence. The Roman’s influence is everywhere, you see their stamp right in the middle of Arles with the massive Amphitheater that you can’t but help walk into since all streets lead to it eventually in Arles.
The Cathars and the Catholics have their own edifices, the Cloisters of Saint-Trophine and the very many old, old churches whose names escape me. Trust me that they all start with Sainte and I am sure that there was an Anne and there might have been a man’s name, I’m sure of that as well.
The one bright place with vibrant colors was L’Espace Van Gogh. The gardens as you see in the pictures were so beautiful. This was the hospital where Van Gogh went to recover after he had cut part of his ear off. He lived in Arles from 1888-1889, only one year but he painted around 300 paintings all focused around the city of Arles. Right near the Forum, at the Place du Forum there still exists the cafe that Van Gogh had painted and where he sat and drank. It is now called Cafe Van Gogh and it is a tourist attraction of course. Our bed and breakfast host advised us to steer clear if we wanted to have authentic Arle cuisine. She was a wonderful host and provided us with several different names of restaurants to choose from, in the end the baby girl picked our restaurant and we did very well with her choice.
Our bed and breakfast was really cool, the owner Magali was lovely and the breakfast was wonderful. The only drawback was that without air-conditioning, the bedroom, in that sweltering heat that we had in Arles for both days, was a stifling oven. Otherwise, it was a great bed and breakfast.
I would definitely go back to Arles for a day trip and then go off to visit the region farther in the hills of Provence because that region deserves more than just a few days.
Yesterday the baby girl and I explored the city by walking down practically every tiny street leading us this way and that way. You can’t really get lost because it is so small, walk one way and you meet the Rhone river, walk another way and you meet the large avenue Georges Clenmenceau. Everything in between is a testament to the enduring history of this tiny city. My favorite was the Roman Amphitheater that is currently being worked on for maintenance but you can still enter and explore, it was built by the Romans in the first century after Christ and it is still standing.
Right alongside the Amphitheater are cafe’s and tea houses because it is the South and hot so they were packed, visiting historic monuments provokes a powerful thirst you know. Before the baby girl and I sat down to quench our thirst we went through all the shops, you can’t help yourself, the fabrics on display are so beautiful with their bright colors and patterns, at one moment I wished that I had an extra suitcase because there were bolts of fabric I wanted to bring home, the funny part is what would I do with them once I got back, I don’t sew. The pottery was just as alluring, the vibrant colors, the thickness and solid feel to the pieces, I was really wishing for that extra suitcase.
When the baby girl and I tore ourselves away from those shops, we sat down at a tea house specializing in crepes, the baby girl ordered a crepe aux caramel beurre sale and the expression on her face of sheer delight was an adorable sight to behold, she looked five again in that instant. Personally my favorite dessert here has been the ice cream. Last night after having a pizza, very good with the thinnest crust that was physically possible, the baby girl had her usual, steak tartare, we went to an artisanal ice cream maker, the baby girl had a scoop of the caramel beurre sale (caramel made with salted butter) and I had a scoop of cantaloupe and a scoop of mango, it tasted like the actual fruit, it was creamy and luscious melting slowly in my mouth then sliding gently down my throat imparting the natural flavors of mango and cantaloupe along the way, it was stupendous.
Today we are leaving Arles for Avignon. I am so happy to have revisited Arles and its monuments. Next time I would love to do it with my hubby so that we can explore the whole region because there is so much more to see.
We arrived in Arles yesterday at 16:30 and got to the bed and breakfast around 17:00. It took awhile because I called a taxi, the days of my backpacking and walking forever burdened with a bag are over. I physically, simply can’t do it. It annoys me that I don’t have it in me to travel as I used to but what can I do? Next time I’ll know to bring someone really strong like my hubby, lol. Whom I miss terribly, by the way, it has been almost thirty days that we have been apart and I miss him. He knows because I have been sending him little love notes almost on a daily basis. I have also been taking mental notes of places and restaurants worthy of a return so that next year when it is he and I traveling together, we have a ton of things to see, do and eat.
This morning I woke up early to go back to the Gare d’Arles to pick up the additional train tickets that I had reserved online for Avignon and Lyons. The walk wasn’t bad at all, I didn’t have a bag weighing me down, and walking by myself, I made excellent time, I also took quite a few pictures along the way. Arles is small and stockpiled with Roman ruins and other monuments. Today’s plan is to walk aimlessly down the tiny streets because no matter where you go, you are bound to walk into something ancient. The Roman Forum and the Amphitheater are the two stops on top of the list and then there is the Van Gogh exposition, there is the Rhone river to walk along and there a quite a few cathedrals and churches to visit as well.
This is our last week in France, so the baby girl and I are making sure to eat all the things that we can’t have in the States such as the fresh ham and butter sandwich on a French baguette and Fromage Blanc with sugar. These two food items probably don’t sound impressive but trust me in that they are so good, so good that when you go home you go through a period of morning because your taste buds know that they will be deprived of the exquisite flavor and texture for an obscene amount of time. I am serious. It is too good.
The bed and breakfast is interesting, our room is in a type of loft. The shower is nice, the bed creaked a bit and we were assaulted by Mosquitos but all in all I slept really deeply, I was dead tired last night, so was the baby girl. The breakfast was lovely, the baby girl and I almost ate the entire baguette to ourselves and we had watermelon and peaches.
It is now time for sightseeing. Off to see the ruins.