Thursday, December 17, 2015

Arles, France

Actual date of this event: 8 May

After spending Thursday driving to several different places around Avignon, we decided to visit Arles on Friday for our last full day in the South of France. We debated visiting Arles by car the day before, but as the city is accessible by train, we decided to hold off. Throughout our week, one thing we were shocked to learn was how many Roman ruins were in the area, and Arles was no exception. The 20 minute journey got us there around noon, and the first thing we did was visit the Roman Amphitheatre.

The Amphitheatre is two tiers and was built sometime around the 1st or 2nd century. It is much small than Rome's Amphitheatre, but it looked just as impressive, and just as nice.

There is still some stone seating, but there are also metal stands for seats. Today, the stadium is used for bullfighting during the city's two bullfighting festivals.

After visiting the Amphitheatre, we stopped for a savory crepe for a snack, before moving on to visit the Roman Theatre. It was mostly in ruins except for the seating. There wasn't a whole lot to see, but we walked around anyway. Ancient marble slabs lay on the ground like they were placed there yesterday.

From there, we wandered the city. Some streets were quiet, some were busy. A few squares were crowded with people and few had no one in them. We passed by a few of the other Roman sites (the thermal bath, church, forum, and crypt) but decided not to visit them.

We stopped for a drink in Place du Forum. Unbeknownst to us, we were sitting at the restaurant where Van Gogh painted several pieces (Le Cafe de Nuit). Luke kept seeing people take pictures, so he looked it up.

After about four hours in Arles and enough wine to put us in a cheery mood, we were pretty much done exploring, so we made our way back to the train station.

Just before reaching the train station, we walked along the Rhone River, and came across the spot where Van Gogh painted Starry Night - I'm not an art person, but I do know that one. River boats took up the majority of the view of the river - hah! Oddly, even though Van Gogh lived and painted in Arles for a few years, none of his works reside in the city.
Arles was a nice city with loads of history. Without the Roman ruins, there wouldn't be a whole lot to it. I did enjoy the quiet and quaint feeling of the streets as we wandered. Even though it was our last full day in the South of France, we still had time to squeeze in one more destination before flying back to London...

More from the South of France: IntroNiceAntibesMonacoEze VillageAvignonPope's Palace & Pont d'AvignonPont du GardBuissonSt. RemyLes BauxArlesNîmes

Documented as the longest living human being, Jeanne Calment lived her entire life of 122 years and 164 days in Arles. She passed in 1997.

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