Adieu to Vias, Allo to ArlesSaturday, 21 July 2007
Today we have to leave the house ready for guests arriving this afternoon; so Anne washes the sheets and takes them to the laundry for drying, does the final cleaning of each room, and mops us out the door. This darling place does make us smile and it’s fun to hear from those who rent it how much they enjoy the
Just when we’re about to commit to the ramp to go north to the interstate to head east to
We’ve driven to
The hotel is really marvelous former Carmelite convent complete with a cloister. Its spacious lobby is appointed with a blend of antique furnishings, large and small santons (Provençal figurines), and bright Provençal fabrics. And around the back, shielded by a giant arborvitae hedge, a refreshing swimming pool. The rooms are converted nuns’ cells with the original stone interior walls. It is right on the main drag and an easy walk to all the interesting points on the walking map we got from the hotel’s front desk.
We picked up sandwiches at a snack shop and made a mental note for breakfast tomorrow that they had pastries - even good looking sacristans with slivered almonds on top- AND a coffee machine - usually you find just one or the other. First stop is a short cooling swim and a relaxing sit by the pool.
Then we walk to Cathedral St. Trophime to see their celebrated 12th century cloister. It was not as pleasing as many other cloisters but it did have a second floor gallery to walk around. A bride and her entourage of photographers, wedding planners, lights, and the husband came in with us and took some photos for her wedding book.
In Place Republique, the main square outside the cathedral, a troupe of Provençal dancers in traditional costumes was engaging the passers-by, including them in some of the circle dances.
The dances were accompanied by two pipe players and two drummers. The effect of Frederick Mistral’s efforts to preserve and promote the Provençal language and culture can be felt in
We walked to the ancient Roman theatre and the big oval Roman arena - much like the Coliseum in
Near the Place du Forum, Anne found a licorice gelato but when we sat down to enjoy it, she discovered it tasted awful. The proprietor proudly explained that this ice cream is made from the woody stems of the anise plant, not the fringy leafy part. It tasted weedy, grassy, and woody - the worst ever.
Downhill from the arena at the end of Rue La Cavaliere are two short round towers with an ancient gate between. Through this gate on the other side of Place Lamartine is the site of Van Gogh’s yellow house where he attempted to establish an enclave for impressionists.
We had dinner on the quiet terrace behind the little Jardin de Manon restaurant, recommended in our French Guide Routard as well as in Time Out, on Avenue Alyscamps. Near here is a double row of Roman sarcophagi which Van Gogh also made famous by painting.
On the way back to the hotel, we saw a bus full of Celtic-Latin band members with Celtic uniforms and instruments congregating on the sidewalk. We followed them across the street through the Jardin d’Ete, up the stairs, and down to the arena where they were to perform in what the billboards touted as a Celtic-Latin show. Those Celts really got around and spread the use of bagpipes and plaid kilts over much of