Provence II : Arles, Avignon, Marseille

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer’s day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul…But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you…” (from Don McLean’s hit song about Vincent van Gogh)

If you are lucky enough to visit Provence, you can’t and shouldn’t miss Arles, not just because of century of history, but because  you will be strolling through the streets that bare the legacy of beautiful Vincent van Gogh. So, I begin Provence II in the honor of the master and his beloved Arles. Vincent painted 300 painting in his year in Arles, attest of his genius.

Arles

Before I went off on my 8-week sabbatical to France in 2013, I decided to WP_20150901_033brush up on my French with Yabla.com, a great subscription base language study program. I kept watching the videos on travel to various town, taking detailed notes on what to visit when I go!

Well, one of those towns on my list  was Arles , in 2015, with my list in one hand and camera in another, right across from the grand coliseum, I saw this very familiar face, my jaw dropped! Voila, guide Catherine from the Yabla.com video. I was so happy, I ran up to her and told her the story. She looked at my list and gave a thumbs up to continue. Small world!

I have never stayed overnight in Arles, since it is small enough to visit during the day, and sadly I can’t go to the delta due to allergies! So here are my recommendations as to what to do.

Don’t Miss

Alres, the largest territory of mainland France because of the Camargue delta, has so much to offer. From the office of tourism you can buy a pass and visit many of the following sites:

  • the coliseum- if you stay the night catch a bull fight!
  • the remarkable Foundation Vincent van Gogh’s- 15 people at a time are allowed here and it is closed on Mondays.
  • the heartbreaking  hospital he lived in- a bit tricky to find but follow the map. And take a packet of tissues as Vincent is there!
  • the Saturday open market is fantastic, eat some of the rice from any of the vendors and buy some Camargue delta salt mixed with Herbs de Provence.
  • take the side streets to appreciate the architecture of Arles, they all connect, you won’t get lost.
  • walk along the river Rhône, which forks into two branches just upstream of Arles, forming the Camargue delta.
  • go to the delta and if you can stay the night, ride the white horses and see the beautiful Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer. My school had a trip planned and everyone raved about it.

I hope I get to go back again soon.

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Avignon

My first visit to Avignon was just  a few hours day visit, not enough time to gain enough knowledge to share a meaningful experience. So, more coming summer of 2017!

Marseille

Foot! Pastis, and  Pétanque are just a few cultural “must know” for anyone visiting Marseille, if you want  to feel right at home.

Foot!, or Soccer as we know it in USA, is the heart beat of Marseille! It is an experience to watch a Foot!, match, with anyone from the south. The grand stadium has hosted matches from all over the world and in Summer of 2016 I got to watch the European cup among the very patriotic French and experienced the seriousness of Foot!. So, when in Marseille brush up on your knowledge of soccer, watch or try your hand in Pétanque, and be sure to drink a glass or two of Pastis!

More coming in April 2017…

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