Wednesday, March 27, 2024


 Off today to Arles, which is a city that has 6 Roman Monuments/sites to visit as well as many museums. It is only a 15 minute train ride from Avignon, so an easy transportation day. Our passes that Andre bought in Nice are still giving us a 30% discount, but after we leave Avignon we think we will be too far out of region for them to be of any use. Plus the next 3 cities we are not sure we will be doing so much visiting outside the cities, we shall see.

Arrival at the Arles train station and it is not nearly as impressive as Nimes was at first impressions, but it really grew on us and we loved it. Again about 1 km walk to the information centre where we were given a good map, and bought tickets where we could visit all 6 Roman monuments and 4 museums. We knew we had no change of doing all this in one day, but the pass is good for 30 days so who knows we may be back. I also wanted to do the Van Gogh walk so we got a map of this as well and would try to fit it in as we moved along. There were actually 3 walks on the map, we certainly could have spent more than one day here with lots to do.

The market was in town, lots of things to see, so of course this slowed down the start to our day, but we eventually moved on with getting some visiting done.

Our first visit was at the Alyscamps cemetery. Just a few buildings and tombs remain. Interesting that many of the tombs had been removed by farmers to use at cattle troughs. Makes you really wonder what will be of our cemeteries in 2000 years from now. We found our first Van Gogh panel just inside the entrance to the cemetery, we really liked finding these panels here and they had the same thing in Saint Remi de Provence, the panel would usually have a letter that Van Gogh had written to his mother or brother about the painting or spot where he painted a picture of the painting. It was very interesting, unfortunately we only saw 2 of these today despite hoping to do the entire walk. Van Gogh is a painter that really liked the Provence area and spent a lot of time here, we can definitely see why he was inspired in the region.

Next we went to visit the Crypt which you access through city hall. We have had a lot of rain and it was pretty dark down there, a few puddles needed to be navigated. Some discussion about what the crypt was used for, the general conclusion seems to be that it was just a basement for the forum, not used for anything. Over the years when houses were eventually build on top the crypt was divided up and used as basements for the houses, but it has all been converted back to one area.

We are now in the main square which is very pretty. There is an Roman 20 meter marble obelisk from the 4th century  that was moved to the square that was very impressive. Of course there is also a church here that we visited, lots of purple coverings over I think Jesus, must have something to do with Lent or passover week.

Next monument we visited was the theatre. This one we could have pretty much seen from the outside, not sure you would need to purchase a ticket, but we did come across a little movie at the end that was worth seeing. As we left we heard the woman that took our tickets tell french people about the movie, but she didn't tell us. Only the French were told as it was in French, but there were English subtitles, glad we happened on the movie ourselves as it was interesting.

Our next monument visit was the Arena. No audio tour here, but since we had done the long audio tour in Nimes earlier we were fine just reading signs. Very interesting that in both places at one point home were built inside the arena's, and then people and homes removed to bring it back to being an arena. Some nice views of old town from the top of the arena.

Next visit was to the St Trophine cloister from the 12th century. A quick visit through here, some rooms were closed for filming.

Our final monument visit was to the Constantin forth century Roman baths. Again not sure if it is worth paying an entry to go in here, you could have a good visual from outside. There was a school group in here at the same time as us which were fun to see looking up things on signs for their assignment, they looked to be in about grade 6, quite the place for a field trip!

Monuments all done which was really our focus for this trip to Arles, with a quick stop to share a pizza at lunch time it has been a full day already. Our pass also included 4 museums, I told Andre to pick one, that is all I had left in me at this point. He chose the Archaeological Museum which was about a 1.5KM walk along a great pathway along the Rhone. It was a great choice, it looked like a huge museum outside, but when you got inside it was not that big at all. We figured we had about an hour here to explore in order to get back to our train. One hour was perfect. Probably what I remember most was a flat boat from the roman times that was discovered in the Rhone in 2004. It is amazing how much was still intact. It was 13 feet under water, surprised it was only found in 2004. It is 102 feet long and they have a great display with some of the artifacts that were found inside as well. A new wing was added to the museum just to host this boat.

Inside the museum there were also some fantastic mosaics that were found in mansions. As well some sarcophagus  from Alyscmaps that have been beautifully restored.

Off to the train station and retraced our path along the Rhone river. The carnival is in town so watched the crazy rides for a few minutes then moved on. I could get sick just watching some of these rides, never mind getting on one. This weekend is a big event here with bull fighting and lots of other free events, here they kill the bulls so I am not interested in going, plus crappy weather forecast for Easter weekend so I think it will be a pass.

Back in Avignon and we go to the bus station to get tickets to Aix en Provence that we are going to visit tomorrow, much easier and faster by bus than by train to get there. At the end of the transaction the man told Andre he spoke very good French, what a complement! I'm not so sure I'm married to someone french, he can't understand many of the menus here, always has to ask for help. I'm thinking about if I visited England and was told I spoke very good English, what would I think of that.

Free concert tonight at the Saint Louis Church. We showed up way to early 45 minutes we wanted decent seats and if you weren't 45 minutes early in Nice you may not have even gotten into the Church, it was so full when we went to the Church there. The woman at the door asked us if we knew it was only at 8pm, well obviously we are way too early so went for a drink. Back to concert after our drink and we are still to early, so we walked around the block.

Concert was good 8 people were the amazing singers and musicians. Maybe 35 people attended. Didn't know any of the instruments played, 3 different size of recorders,1 really big recorder thing, 1 guitar that was bent at the top where the strings attach, not sure if it was 12 or 14 strings but all made amazing sounds in the great acoustics in the Church.

A great day, a lot done. Definitely recommend Arles.

31,200 steps, or 20 km.

The drain in front of our house is clogged, need to watch out for cars when coming out so you don't get splashed

A great town to visit from the river cruise boats

Arles and the Rhone river

Great old town

The largest market we have seen so far, better prices as well

Every good size town needs/has a carousel  it seems

Big weekend here with lots of festivities including bull fights in the Roman Arena. This one looks like it could be for the kids

The south of France Camino goes thru here

To learn more about the Roman monuments in Arles

At Alyscamps cemetery, A few building from different period.
There were tombs everywhere and many were also removed by farmers for cattle trough.

Van Gogh spent time in Arles

Part of what's left of the Roman rampart

The Roman 20 meter marble obelisk from the 4th century from Asia Minor, not sure where that is.
The city hall in the background

A very quick visit to see an art display

Inside city hall. Stairway to the offices upstairs

The entrance to the crypt is from inside city hall.

The Cathedral, had amazing tapestries

At the Theater, 
A little bit of the wall left

Only 2 columns from the back wall

And 1 of the tower

Next stop the Arena

View from one of the towers.
Most of the seating is on steel stadium stands. 

View from almost ground level

View of the old town from the tower.

The old city gate

Now at the St Trophine cloister from the 12th century

At the Constantin four century Roman bath

At the Roman circus, not much left of a large place where the had horse races

At the antique museum

Wine jugs 

Oldest know bust of Julius Caesar

Flat Boat from the Roman times that was recovered from the bottom of the Rhone river

Floor Mosaic from Villa, they had about 8 of them

Sarcophagus  from Alyscmaps

No time to stop for rides as we have to catch the train
No entry fees to walk around like home

This is probably why a large head of lettuce is less than 1 euro

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