Bonjour! We arrived in France last Tuesday and have been on the go ever since. Somehow I missed my Friday France post and now the weekend is almost over. I hope you had a good one!
Here’s a brief catch-up. Arles. In the département Bouches-du-Rhône. Two and a half hours west of Nice and Antibes, our usual destination and where we will be for July.
This is our home for the next two weeks as I research my next novel set in and around the town, as well as in the intriguing and unique Camargue wetlands to the south.
Ancient, beautiful Arles on the banks of the Rhône. The Ligurians were here in 800 BC, followed by the Phoenicians who developed an important trading port. The Romans took the town in 123 BC. A rich and colourful history followed through the centuries. The Roman and Romanesque monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. They are visible throughout the old town now as they were 2000 years ago.
This is the view when we step out our door. 2000 years. Concerts and festivals fill the seats today as did the gladiators in Roman times. This isn’t my first time in Arles, but the Arènes still takes my breath away.
At night, there’s a mystical air of history coming alive.
The medieval 16thC old town has a comfortable mix of hotels, shops, restaurants and family life. Narrow streets make driving a challenge and most are accessible only to residents. This is a town for strolling and breathing in the historic atmosphere … and if you are like me … taking photos non-stop, particularly of doors and key holes!
The arts are alive and well in Arles.
Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during that time. His spirit lives throughout the town and at the moment the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh has an excellent exhibit of 31 of his paintings.
How exciting to read that a sketchbook of more than ten of Van Gogh’s drawings has recently come to light and will be published in France in mid-November, 2016.
An international photography festival has been held in the city for almost fifty years.
The Rencontres d’Arles is an annual summer photography festival founded in 1970 by the Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, the writer Michel Tournier and the historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette. It has an international impact by showing material that has never been seen by the public before. In 2015, the festival welcomed 93,000 visitors.
I’m looking forward to sharing more information and photos of Arles and the surrounding area. I’m excited about the novel on which I’m working and doing my best to ensure it will be a story that excites readers too. But for now, I’m going to say à bientôt /see you soon and do what most people in France will be doing for the next two hours … watch France play Switzerland in another match in the European Soccer championships. Allez Les Bleus!
Are you a soccer fan? Which team are you supporting?