Day 4: Arles, Part II & Saintes Maries de la Mer

So I actually stopped the last post in the middle of exploring the St. Trophime cloister…

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We then went to the top of the cloister which had a beautiful view of the rooftops and looking down into the center of the cloister.

Arles2_46smal Arles2_47small Arles2_48smallI think I also have a thing for beautiful stained glass. Who wouldn't?!

I think I also have a thing for beautiful stained glass. Who wouldn’t?!

Next, we headed out to get something to eat. This was the first day my stomach felt normal since I arrived in France, but for some reason I was still pretty full from breakfast. So, I just shared with my aunt. Of course, we each still had to get deserts and try them!

Across the street from where we ate.

Across the street from where we ate.The meal I shared with my aunt. So good!!The meal I shared with my aunt. So good!!My desert: a strawberry tarte!My desert: a strawberry tarte!

After lunch we went across the street to the Theatre Antique, the ruins of an ancient Roman theater, where they were having Gladiator reenactments. The introduction was this guy speaking in French for at least a half hour, I assume explaining the history and strategy behind the fights, so we didn’t get any of that. But it was still pretty entertaining!

 I wonder if they have concerts here?I wonder if they have concerts here? The first fight..Arles2_58small Arles2_60small

After the gladiator fight we went over to the Amphitheatre, the restored ruins of a giant arena they now use for bull fighting.Arles2_61small Arles2_63small

Arles2_62small Arles2_64small  Arles2_66smallArles2_67small Arles2_65smallRooftop view from the Amphitheatre.

Rooftop view from the Amphitheatre.

At this point we were pretty tired, but it was still way too early in the day to just go back to our hotel. So, we decided to wander back and then drive somewhere else to give our feet a break.

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On the way, we stopped at a few marked sites where van Gogh had painted. I didn’t photograph any of them because they don’t look the same anymore, but there was one that caught my attention.

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The Trinquetaille Bridge – Arles, November 1888, Oil on canvas

The bridge is modern and the road is paved, but other than that this scene looks almost exactly the same now. Except that the sapling he painted over a century ago is now a giant tree! I thought that was so cool.

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Our hotel in Arles.

After we got back to our hotel and freshened up, we decided to drive down to Saintes Maries de la Mer, the Mediterranean beach capital of Camargue, a wetland region south of Arles.

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We stopped at one of the many horse farms along the way.

They have dog bathrooms everywhere so they don't go on the beach!

They have dog bathrooms everywhere so they don’t go on the beach!

Once we got there, we just started exploring. We decided it was like the French equivalent of the Jersey shore. If I were French, I would definitely go here every summer!

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There is an old church in the center of the city, which you can climb to the top of and stand on the roof to get a magnificent panoramic view of the town. It was a little nerve-wracking, but totally worth it!

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Saying hello to Chris!

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Aunt butt.

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The French people were a little unnerved, too.

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We then stopped to eat at a Brasserie with live Spanish guitar players singing. It was yummy!

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That heart/anchor/cross/bull poker is the symbol for Camargue. I love it! After we ate, it was time to head back to Arles.

A local Patisserie we passed.

A local Patisserie we passed.

The sunset as we were leaving.

The sunset as we were leaving.

Once we got back to Arles, it was time to sleep! We were getting up early the next morning to go to Avignon, which will be my next post!

Day 3: Provence

My Wednesday started out not so great. I was awoken by my alarm clock at 5AM after only one hour of sleep. I got ready and tried to force myself to eat, but I felt so sick I could barely force down some cereal. I was running a little behind my intended schedule so I left for the train station on an empty, unhappy stomach.

Paris Gare Lyon

Paris Gare Lyon

I made it there fine with plenty of time before my train track was announced. I spent the entire 4 hour train ride looking out the window, unable to sleep. The French countryside is beautiful and exactly as you imagine it would be. They also have white cows, which I did not know existed!

White cows!

White cows!

Once I arrived at the Avignon station and met up with my Aunt Sue & Chris, we decided to go straight to Arles and save Avignon for Friday morning. On the way, we first stopped at the Pont du Gard. It’s so funny to me that when I learned about this ancient aqueduct in my freshman year art history class, I never imagined I’d actually see it so soon!

Olive trees are everywhere out there!

Olive trees are everywhere out there!

My Aunt & I at the Pont!

My Aunt & I at the Pont!

My Aunt & Chris

My Aunt & Chris

On the bridge.

On the bridge.

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Phone panorama

Phone panorama

It is an amazing structure, but I was more surprised at all there is to do around the Pont. I thought you could just drive up to it and look at it, but there is actually a whole museum and touristy shopping/eating area. More impressive was the large amount of French people who go there to kayak and swim in the water around the it. If I had known, I would have brought my swimming suit! It looked beautiful and clear, and it is also pretty shallow.

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Another favorite surprise was this beautiful building. It is not labelled, and as far as I know is only being used as an outdoor cafe. We got giant bottles of water and Magnums here and ate with a magnificent view. I really want to find out more about this building, it should be put to better use!

My future home

My future home

The cafe

The cafe

Awesome porches

Awesome porches

The cafe view

The cafe view

Next, we went to the nearby town of Uzes. We walked around and looked in some of the charming shops. One shop keeper had spent a year in San Diego and knew English pretty well. He was very interesting to talk to, and I thought some of his opinions of America and its cities were accurate and well said.

Got Nutella?

Got Nutella?

A plant shop in Uzes

A plant shop in Uzes

An adorable ceramic shop in Uzes.

An adorable ceramic shop in Uzes.

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Uzes

Uzes

Uzes

A cool mirrored lamp.

A cool mirrored lamp.

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Items in a shop in Uzes

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Uzes

Finally, it was time to go to Arles. At this point I was completely exhausted and starving. We signed in to our hotel across the river, then crossed the bridge into town for something to eat.

City view from across the river.

City view from across the river.

You can see why painters were so entranced by Provence. Look at the lighting and those colors!

You can see why painters were so entranced by Provence. Look at the lighting and those colors!

The sacred temple of martinis? Also, why is there a stone carving in that tree?

The sacred temple of martinis? Also, why is there a stone carving in that tree?

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I love the colorful shutters.

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A private alley.

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Possibly for the photography festival currently happening?

Possibly for the photography festival currently happening?

We ended up at the Place du Forum, home of the Cafe van Gogh.

Cafe van Gogh, subject of the painting Cafe Terrace at Night.

Cafe van Gogh, subject of the painting Cafe Terrace at Night.

We had a yummy meal at a cafe in the Forum, and then after a long day headed back to our hotel to sleep.

A quick shot of the town across the bridge at night.

A quick shot of the town across the bridge at night.

More of Provence is to come over the weekend!