Arles, Provence

Arles, Provence

When we booked this particular Trafalgar Tour, I looked up all the places we were going to visit on our travels around this truly beautiful country of France.  There were ‘hidden gems’  along the way, not noted in the itinerary.   Arles was one of them, so we had no idea of what the town was all about.  We were amazed at the history of it and would have loved to have spent more time there.  Having an hour or two there,  we didn’t have enough time wandering around Carcassonne sadly ..  like swings and roundabouts!

Arles, being on the Rhône River, it’s a “natural historic gateway to the Camargue”,  the Rhône delta which forms more than 112,000 ha of wetlands, pastures, dunes and salt flats. Yet another part of France I would love to see with it’s small white Arab-type horses, flamingoes, black bulls and salt, heaps of it, literally!  – the largest ‘harvest’ of the Carmargue.

Back to Arles 🙂  Roman influence abounds in the town, with a Roman amphitheatre (still used today for bullfighting, Constantine’s baths, and a Roman Theatre, once a fortress, where the Arles Festivals are held.  While we were there, they were setting it up for a something, a concert perhaps, with sound equipment etc ..

Firstly .. walking with Mark (our Tour Director) for a short time, we came to the town’s square – Place de la Republique, with the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) directly in front .. midday, hot and very sunny ..

To the right of square is the Eglise St Trophime with 12th century Romanesque exterior and superb Romanesque and Gothic cloisters (doors were shut 🙁 )

The ornate portal is carved with saints and apostles ..

Mark pointed out these steps behind the Hotel de Ville – they are actually seats where a jury would sit contemplating an outcome of the court case .. note the indentations!!  It was obviously well used !

Every time I took aim to shoot this photo below, someone walked through .. 🙁

We walked with Mark to Place du Forum before a bit of free time on our own, or doing a guided tour in the footsteps of Van Gogh.  We decided to explore on our own.  At the Place du Forum he pointed out a corner of a building, with Romanesque detail,  which has been preserved and incorporated into the newer building ..

Intricate detail from so long ago- I found it fascinating !!

.. and of course, on the Place du Forum is Vincent van Gogh’s Le Café la Nuit, or Café Terrace at Night, which I featured in ..

We made our way up the narrow streets towards the Roman Amphitheatre ..

The amphitheatre is still used today for Camargue bullfights (courses Camarguaises) where the bull is not harmed;  amateur razeteurs remove rosettes and ribbons tied to the bull’s horns using a hooked comb clasped between their fingers

Old walling and stone work mixed with new ..

Each arch is supported by Doric and Corinthian columns – it’s one of the best preserved monuments of Roman Provence.  I wondered why it’s used so frequently.  Surely it will eventually be destroyed bit by bit, little by little ?

I found all this fascinating .. walking through all the passageways, wondering how many millions of people have walked here, all in different dress through the centuries,  touching the walls as I did.

If walls could talk …

New brickwork and stone work mingles with the old and very old ..

Well-worn steps .. on the right .. and on the left ..

Please join me for part 2 of our walk-about in Arles, next 🙂


4 Replies to “Arles, Provence”

  1. The history is just amazing. So old that our history can’t compare. Going on a guided tour vs a self drive tour both have its pro’s and con’s with flexibility being one of the con’s of a guided tour. But on the other hand you get to see things you would probably have missed.

    1. I agree – I’m sure we definitely saw and learnt much more doing it this way but you are limited to time – and a lot of my photos .. probably most of them .. are taken while walking, taking a quick stop, hold breath, click, move on .. catch up to group 🙂 !! I ended up doing a lot more quick walking/running than all the others 🙂

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