Wednesday, 6 December 2017

France - Arles - Day 3

We had intended to go to Château d'If on the island of Frioul, where the Alexandre Dumas novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" was set.
But due to the rain, we had to change our plans and instead Thomas's' Dad Max drove us to Arles about 90km away.
Arles is famous for inspiring Van Gogh's painting, and having been part of ancient Rome is home to many Roman monuments
The day was gray, but at least we didn't get wet while walking around.

On arrival we went into the Tourist Information centre to get a map and some information in English, but the queue was huge and there wasn't anything on display that would help us, so we followed Max.

The area where the Roman monuments are has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Area since 1981.

The first street we walked in had some interesting things hanging from one side of the street to the other - plastic windmills, and statues hanging from umbrellas.

The Church of St. Trophime is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral, built between the 12th and 15th century.

The two level Roman Amphitheatre was built in 90 A.D., capable of seating 20 thousand spectators. It's still used today for concerts and plays and unfortunately for bullfighting during one of Arles festivals.

One of three spas discovered in Arles are the Constantine Baths, dating from the 4th century A.D., believed to have been part of the Palace of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. The brick and limestone structure was the center of Roman society, a place for exercise and hygiene, with pools, saunas, changing rooms and exercise rooms.

The Roman Theater was built in the 1st century during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Seating 8 thousand people, over 33 tiers of steps. Only a few pillars and columns remain, and the theater is used for Summer concerts and sporting events.

We had some difficulty choosing lunch at "Les Ateliers" restaurant, at Victor Hugo Avenue, but in the end we made the right choice and the food was very nice.
Just across the street was this very modern building being constructed - Parc des Ateliers.

After some investigation I found out that the area where the building is coming up, was previously the old railway yards, now being redeveloped.
The piece de resistance is the 56mt high twisting building made of stainless steel, metal panels and glass, designed by Frank Gehry, and which will make Arles the centre for art and creativity, with the building having galleries, workshops, a cafe and restaurant and a glass atrium open to the public. Started in 2014, it's expected to be finished by 2019.

After lunch we walked towards the river Rhône and walked along the promenade.
It was here that Van Gogh painted the picture entitled "Starry night over the Rhone" in September 1888. There were quite a few cruise ships docked here too.

I loved the history and art of Arles, but found the town lacked some colour, that is apart from some beautiful blue and green doors and windows and a small street whose houses were covered in greenery, so quaint.

Other interesting monuments
Quaint doors and windows
A beautiful area where houses were covered with greenery

And before departing to Marseille we had time to sit down and have a drink at the Garden Cafe, on the ground floor of the Hotel Le Calendal. The front esplanade was full, so we were offered a table in the back garden, and it was cool and green, a great spot to spend a while savouring a slice of cake and tea, and a great way to end our visit to Arles.
I also loved their chandelier with hanging cups and saucers in one of the rooms we walked through on our way to the garden.

Garden Cafe at the Hotel Le Calendal - Karina, Max, Thomas and Jose standing.

We arrived in Marseille in time for dinner, at Thomas's parents, lovingly cooked by his Mom.

**Follow this link to read about Day 1 and 2 in Marseille.


  1. You are right, there is a huge lack of color, that makes a big difference indeed, yet all very interesyting. Frank Gehry, wow, a "crazy" building :-)

    1. I was surprised with the building, it felt a bit out of place, but I suppose the city needs different things to attract tourists.

  2. Sometimes grey skies can make a not so good impression of somewhere, where if the area had bright blue skies, you might feel differently. I like the look of the Gehry building. It might look quite at home in Barcelona. It will be good to see when it is finished.

    1. You are right Andrew, the grey skies didn't help making the city a bit livelier. I agree, that building would fit right in, in Barcelona.

  3. Somehow that's not how I expected Arles to look. I was expecting more color (of course), but also more like Van Gogh painted it. Other than the Starry Night water photo, I felt like it should have looked more like Van Gogh painted it. Guess technology and such has changed it, although I was certainly impressed with the architecture that HAD to have been there before Van Gogh lived there. Regardless, thanks for the photos and day out and about in Arles.

    1. I expected that too, as Andrew says maybe the city looked dull because of the grey skies...
      Thanks Elizabeth.

  4. Que maravilha esta cidade francesa e estou de acordo com o Pedro.
    Continuação de boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco. Boa semana para si também.

  5. Que fotos bonitas, Sami!! Aquelas portas e janelas cobertas de plantas são um mimo.
    Estive na cidade há uns anitos e fiquei com a mesma impressão: é um museu a céu aberto.

    1. Obrigada Sandra. Adorei aquela Rua "verde", mesmo linda.

  6. You did manage to see a lot of the town & I'm glad you found some colour as it really helps!

    1. Thanks Christine, eventually I found some colour. It was an interesting city nonetheless.

  7. I think Arles looks beautiful Sami, I'm not sure how the Gehry building will fit in though, it could stick out like a sore thumb ☺ I think you had the best holiday, very family oriented and of course all your planning made it much easier I bet!

    1. Thanks Grace. It's such a futuristic building I also wonder...
      I lot of planning but also some unexpected things, but all worked out, and the best was really having our daughter with us for the whole 4 weeks and the rest of the family for at least 2 weeks.

  8. Dearest Sami,
    Well, despite the rain and the thwarting of your initial plans, this turned out to be a most enjoyable day with your in-laws as a guide and host for the delicious dinner to round it all off!
    It makes one think really deep when walking anywhere such antiquity as the 1st Century A.D.... What all happened and what if those old stones could talk to us?!
    Glad it worked out this way for you.

    1. Thanks Mariette. I agree, so much history, it's hard to imagine that those monuments are still standing, and so much happened within those walls, if only they could talk, as you say.


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