Maison Boussingaul B&B, Avignon: 43°56’45.4″N 4°48’12.3″E
(39 Rue Boussingault, 84000 Avignon, France)
Arles Tourism Office in City Center: 43°40’29.5″N 4°37’40.9″E
It took us about 45 minutes to drive from our B&B to the Tourism Office in Arles. Lots of roundabouts along the way. We’re getting pretty good at navigating with the GPS device but whenever we enter a roundabout we are still a bit uncertain as to exactly which exit we need to take to continue on our way.
When we arrived in Arles the GPS was directing us to a museum that we wanted to stop at first but unfortunately the street that leads to the museum parking lot was closed & under repair. There was no alternate route to that location so it was pretty confusing as to what we should do. We ultimately gave up trying to find the museum parking lot & instead reprogrammed the GPS to take us to the main car park garage in the center of the city.
Arles is a very nice city with lots of history and interesting architecture but it is much bigger and busier than we thought it would be. We picked up a tourism pass & headed out on foot to see the sites. Catherine had identified several things that we wanted to see.
Vincent Van Gough lived in the city for about 18 months & then he had a mental breakdown & was hospitalized in the city for another year. During the 2 1/2 years he was in Arles he produced several paintings that are considered to be some of his best work. Unfortunately the house where he lived was destroyed during WW II but the buildings that served as a hospital are still there. After Van Gough had been diagnosed as mentally ill he lived in the hospital while he was being treated for his illness. One of his famous paintings is of the hospital’s courtyard. The courtyard is still there but the plantings are much different now.
PHOTO ABOVE – THE COURTYARD GARDEN PAINTED BY VAN GOUGH PAINTED DURING HIS CONVALESCENCE (COPIED FROM THE INTERNET)
PHOTO ABOVE – THE COURTYARD GARDEN AS IT IS TODAY
Arles also has several famous Roman ruins – all within relatively easy walking distance of each other. The colosseum is remarkably well preserved & it was fascinating to be able to walk through it. The facility is still used for events but thankfully there are no gladiator battles or people being attacked by wild animals. It is hard to imagine those things ever took place here so many centuries ago.
PHOTO ABOVE – THE EXTERIOR OF THE COLOSSEUM
PHOTO ABOVE – THE MAIN COLOSSEUM AREA – SEATED ABOUT 20,000 PEOPLE
PHOTO ABOVE – VIEW OF THE CORRIDORS UNDERNEATH THE SEATING AREA
Our next stop was to view the Roman theater. It is not as well preserved as the colosseum but is still very impressive & is still used today for live entertainment concerts & plays.
PHOTO ABOVE – VIEW OF THE ROMAN THEATRE
Our final stop was to see the remains of the Roman baths. This structure has also deteriorated quite a bit & what remains today is only about 1/4 of its original size.
PHOTO ABOVE – PARTIAL REMAINS OF THE ROMAN BATHS
There was one more monument on our day pass to see and we decided to see the Cloister of St Trophime constructed in the 12th century, still an oasis of peace in a busy city.
PHOTO ABOVE – THE EXTERIOR OF THE CHURCH AND ADJACENT CLOISTURE
PHOTO ABOVE – A PILGRIM RESTING BRIEFLY IN THE CLOISTER CORRIDOR
The Rhone River passes through Arles and we were able to get a break from the afternoon heat by walking alongside the river on a broad bank. The Rhone looked huge compared to the Canal du Midi with substantially larger boats on it.
PHOTO ABOVE THE RHONE RIVER WITH MY NEXT CHARTER BOAT PASSING BY
PHOTO ABOVE AN INTERESTING FACADE OF A RESIDENCE BESIDE THE RIVER
After walking along the canal for a kilometer or two we were pretty much done for the day. Getting lost seemed to be the theme. It’s a good thing we have unlimited mileage on the car as we took some wrong exits on a few of the roundabouts on our way back “home” and had to rely on the GPS to eventually get us back to Avignon. But it worked out well because we ended up on smaller roads alongside the Rhone River & past fields of sunflowers, vineyards, olive groves and roads lined with plane trees.
There were even more opportunities to see the Rhone as we went back and forth over the bridge to the city five times before we finally got in the correct lanes. Afternoon traffic was heavy and it started to rain hard. The GPS was going hoarse repeating the same instructions over and over again. I’m sure it would have yelled at us in French if it could have. Fifi the Fiat didn’t seem to mind and eventually we made it back to our B&B, Maison Boussignault.
I think we will leave the car parked tomorrow & instead of driving anywhere we will do a walking tour of Avignon.