Following in the Footsteps of Van Gogh
One thing that has really surprised us this summer is we have had no brutally hot days. We've been on trips where the only relief from the heat is to find a cafe with misters as we did in Croatia or even buy a bottle of frozen water as we have done in Rome. Today we are lucky again. There's a pleasant breeze making it a perfect day to tour Arles.
The 12th century cathedral is Romanesque meaning there is more stone than wood. It is quite plain compared to the gold we saw in Spanish cathedrals. In the cloisters, we learned about the restoration taking place and how 19th century restoration techniques may have been more harmful than helpful. Still we were able to see some intricately carved stone work. The stonework above the doorway is a UNESCO World Heritage sight and is a textbook example of how the church taught illiterate people about the bible.
Outside the town was getting busy with sightseers, We saw a group of about 20 retired people from a big river boat cruise listening to an orientation of the town. When they were set free in this safe, friendly, easy to navigate on foot town, much to the shock of their English guide, they all turned and headed back to the safety of the ship. We see this a lot with tour groups in Europe. I don't understand why they don't want to actually see the places they have come so far to see.
To launch a new Foundation for Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, we saw an exhibit of many of his original paintings including The Yellow House painted here in town. The exhibit explained that Van Gogh came to Arles in 1888 looking for bright colors and the warm light he found in the Japanese prints he collected. The photos below are photos of the actual paintings we photogrphed in the museum.
In Arles there's a Roman amphitheater. You can go inside, but we learned you can look through the gates for free because there's not a lot left of it.
Van Gogh lived in Arles for a short time and painted many of his famous paintings here. The town has a treasure map you can follow to find the actual sights of the paintings. The one below is the garden Van Gogh painted. Using our Rick Steves' guidebook we retraced Van Goghs steps to many of the other places which he painted.
Tonight was a picnic dinner on the second floor of our accommodation with the help of one of Arles's supermarkets. This is a cost effective way to save money and it wasn't a compromise at all. We are in the courtyard of the small hotel where we are staying and it's as pretty as any restaurant, On the way back to ou r hotel from the store I saw a window almost touching the street with iron bars, It was lit up and to our amazement it turned out we were looking about 40 feet down into an excavation site for Roman ruins.
After dinner we strolled around town and ended up at an outdoor cafe where there was a live jazz band and they were great. Most of the families there were French holidaymakers. It's moments like this where we really enjoy slowing down time and really enjoying life in the moment. As we headed back to our hotel, we could still hear the jazz echoing through the streets!