Monday, March 19, 2012


Add to Google Reader or HomepageA short distance west of Les Baux is the city of Arles. We went there last weekend when Susan and Allen were visiting from Paris. Since their arrival in Paris in January, the weather there had been cold and rainy. They wanted to visit us and take advantage of sunny Provence. The weather here was very accommodating as the sun shone everyday and the temperatures climbed to the mid-20°s.

The connection between Les Baux and Arles is a very old one. Les Baux is strategically located about midway on the old trade route between Arles and Aix-en-Provence (Via Aurelia).

Arles was an important city from the time of the Romans. Even though Arles is located on the Rhone, the Romans built a canal connecting the city to the sea. Constantine liked the city and lived there. Constantine III made Arles his capital. Many of the Roman ruins remain to this day. The arena/amphitheatre is still used for bullfights.

From the medieval age, Arles was a starting point for the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. Hikers and pilgrims still make the 1600 kilometer journey from Arles across the Camargue to the Pyrenees and into Spain.

The Night Café
Van Gogh's Painting of the hospital
At the end of the 19th century, Van Gogh lived in Arles where he completed over 300 paintings and drawings. Among the most famous are Starry Night Over the Rhone and The Night Café. It was in Arles that he cut off part of his ear and subsequently spent time at the hospital in Arles – a site for more of his work.

Arles Hospital
Years ago we stayed in Arles and during that trip found the marker showing the place where Van Gogh had painted his famous Starry Nights, one of Ellen’s favorites of his work. We went back there in the evening and Ellen had tears in her eyes as she took a series of picture of the scene using her cell phone. I think that was the phone that made an unfortunate, unplanned trip through the wash cycle the following summer. It’s fortunate we have our memories since we no longer have the pictures.

I had forgotten that Saturday is market day in Arles. We arrived in time to see the end of the market day and then made our way to the Hotel Voltaire for a very nice (and inexpensive) lunch. Then off to do some more touring of the old town. While walking, I noticed some old doors and was intrigued by the keyholes.


BTW - as they write in text messagesArles is home for the “Gipsy Kings”; one of my favorite singing groups.

Gipsy Kings


  1. What a nice post! The photos so reminded me of a very lovely day in Arles, except for the parking challenge. Ah! We Americans want so much more space for our cars. Whew! That parking garage was a challenge. But Arles, the people, the ambiance were outstanding. We must go back when we return in 2013. But then, we must go back to San Remy, Avignon, Orange, Walter's vineyard, etc. So many great memories. Ah! Even the downpour in Avignon offered a special moment to cherish - because it forced us inside to the wonderful patisserie.

    1. Thanks for the nice comments. I should do more with the Van Gogh Arles/St. Remy de Provence connection.