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September 11, 2008

Arles

Filed under: Provence 2008, Travel — anotherheader @ 2:28 am

The bridge from Fourques to Arles

The bridge from Fourques to Arles

[continuing from the previous post…]

As Becky approached the Razeteur’s entrance in the Arena in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, chuckles from the bullfighters inside watching her approach could be heard clearly. Perhaps they were chuckles of amusement that she might want to give it a try. Or perhaps they were the smirks of “bring it on”, “lets see what you can do”. We’ll never know, as Becky turned from the door at the last moment, thinking better of an encounter with the bulls.

A country road in Arles

A country road in Arles

Having barely escaped losing Becky to a bull, I insisted on visiting Arles on Saturday. It seemed like a safer destination and was close to Fourques. And it was free from bulls, at least on Saturday.

Romans from the Rice Festival

Romans from the Rice Festival

We started with a bike ride around Fourques to an old suspension bridge that crossed the Petit Rhone River. On the other side of the Petit Rhone, the city of Arles formally begins. We arrived in time to see a small parade for the Arles Rice Festival pass by.

We continued on and thoroughly explored the portion of Arles that is bracketed by the Rhone and Petit Rhone rivers. The land is flat and looked like it was frequently flooded until the rivers were tamed. The area was a combination of both residential and agricultural. Large chateaus and farm buildings surrounded with orchards and crops marked the areas that must have one time been part of larger estates.

Windows

Windows

We returned to the house and headed back to Arles, this time in the car. We didn’t have locks for the bikes, so touring Arles by bike was problematic.

Due to the French holiday, the attractions in Arles were free (entrée libre). This certainly increased our likelihood of visiting an attraction. The major sights we saw were the amphitheater and the coliseum, both Roman relics.

The amphitheater in Arles was really the remains of the old Roman ruin that had been scavenged for years for building materials. Currently, it is being used to host music concerts and the like.

The Roman coliseum in Arles was in considerably better shape. Many of the original, impressive arches still stand, despite the years. The wear of the ages is evident on the building, but the massive blocks of precisely

3 windows and a mural in Arles

3 windows and a mural in Arles

cut stone still stand. With the addition of some metal seats and reconstruction of some of the old stone benches, the structure is still being used today. It is currently configured for bullfights. Both Provencal and Spanish-style bullfights are held in the facility. Becky and I definitely would like to go back and see a Provencal style bullfight in the Arles at the coliseum. The combination of the excitement of the bullfight and seeing it in such an ancient and historic building would be great.

At the end day, we headed back to the house. After another evening with a fine home cooked meal and large amounts of wine consumption, it was a full day.

The coliseum in Alres arranged for bullfights.

The coliseum in Alres arranged for bullfights.

Inside the coliseum in Arles

Inside the coliseum in Arles

Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/wonderdog1/Arles

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