adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

A Day in Provence: Arles & Camargue

Now that I've (mostly) finished complaining about the heat, let's pick up where we left off, shall we?  I was telling you all about Devon's visit and our day in Provence.  We spent the morning in Les Baux, touring the medieval ruins and fighting against the mistral.  After a quick lunch, we headed about 20 minutes south to Arles. Arles, an old Roman town, is well known for being the place in which Van Gogh spent the last years of his life.  The crazy ones.  The ones where he cut off his own ear.  It's also the place that inspired him to create over 200 masterpieces, including Café at Night.  Arles takes advantage of this fame and you can find Van Gogh souvenirs, prints, and landmarks all over the city.  But there are other interesting sights to explore, my favorite being the Roman Arena. You may remember the couple hundreds of times I've talked about the Arènes de Nîmes.  I just love these ancient arenas - there's something so cool about the bleached stonework, still in tact,  and thinking about the crazy spectacles that took place here.  The Arènes de Arles is from 90 AD, even older (and larger) than the one in Nîmes.  And just like the Arènes de Nîmes, it served as a protective fortress to hundreds of homes during medieval times.  I just find it so interesting to think about all the different purposes these arenas have served over the past nearly 2,000 years. Somehow, I (slowly) made it up to the top of the arena with Michael and Devon, despite the strong mistral winds that followed from Les Baux.  The views were worth the climb up the many, many stairs. After the morning in Les Baux and touring the arena, my swollen feet were ready for a break.  I sat in a cafe sipping fresh squeezed jus de pamplemousse, while Devon and Michael made a quick stop at the Théâtre Antique. Very little of the original stonework of this 1st century BC classical theater remains.  During the Middle Ages it served as a town quarry, from which the nearby St. Trophime Church was built, but the seating is slowly being rebuilt.  Today you can see some pretty exciting shows at the Théâtre Antique.  Shows like this. When Michael and Devon returned from their excursion, I was rested and ready to wander the city a bit more and head down to the Rhône River. Finally, we decided to head home, but not before making a quick stop in Camargue.  This protected wetland, just south of Arles, is western's Europe's largest river delta.   Driving through this area, one can see wild, white horses and boars, flocks of flamingos, and over 400 species of birds hanging out between the many lagoons.  Because of the season, we actually didn't see very much of anything except a few rogue, very far away flamingos, but it was still a nice, scenic drive to provide some entertainment on our way home. Stay tuned for the final post on our visit with Devon, our trip to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert!

6 Responses to “A Day in Provence: Arles & Camargue”

  1. Devon says:

    I loved this day and I love all your photos. Great blog post :) I so want to come back!!!

  2. Sabbio says:

    I went to Arles as a teenager, with my parents but I must admit I don’t remember much :s I remember better going, during the same trip, to Sainte Marie de la Mer where there was a delicious glacier with lots of flavours ^^

  3. Sara Louise says:

    There is something so sultry about Arles, I love it! But damn that city gets hot!

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