Welcome back to another post on my recent trip to the south of France. After visiting a couple of cities beforehand (which you can refer to with this post and that post), I was ready to head over to the small, charming town of Arles!
I actually made a day trip over from Nîmes, as I was planning to stay in the city for three nights. After my first night in Nîmes, I headed over from the youth hostel I was staying at (if you had read my previous post, then you know that I did not like the accommodation- at all!) to meet my BlaBlaCar driver to head over to Arles in the morning. Arrived in Arles around 9h00, and since nothing really was opened at the time, I just wandered around the small, narrow streets. Passed by les Arènes d’Arles (went inside later in the afternoon) before moving on to check out the Réattu Museum, the Thermal Baths of Constantine, and the Van Gogh Foundation museum (in fact, Arles is known as the “town of van Gogh,” as he used to live and paint there, having been inspired by the place’s quaintness).
Things started opening at 10h00, and so I headed over first to the Thermal Baths of Constantine, where I paid 9 euros for a pass not only to the site, but also to other museums and places around Arles (a very good deal, actually!). The thermal baths are nothing but ruins now, dating back from the Roman Empire. It’s interesting to see, though, how people used to bathe in public, as well as how the water system worked to bring in, well, water for such people. 😛
Next, I headed over to the Réattu Museum, which is a local one that was founded by Jacques Réattu, an Arles-born painter. The museum contains many of his works, along with a couple of Picasso paintings and plenty of photographs from the 20th to 21st century. Frankly, I didn’t find it as interesting as I had thought that it would be (perhaps due to the fact that I hadn’t known about Réattu, nor anything about his works), but in any case, I got to see some local art.
Headed over to the van Gogh Foundation, but ended up not visiting. It was due to the fact that 1) it was not included in my 9-euro pass to museums and sites; I would have had to pay separately, and 2) the van Gogh art pieces wouldn’t be on display until May; I have no idea why. It wouldn’t have made sense to see non-van Gogh paintings at the museum, and so I decided to save the money and go elsewhere. It’s too bad, as I do love all things van Gogh. 😦
I passed by two neighborhood squares, one of which contained the van Gogh Café (bright, yellow, and famous for being featured in the artist’s Café Terrace at Night) and the other the town hall and the Church of St. Tromphime, with a cloister inside, too.
By then, it was around noon, and so I decided to get a quick lunch take-out before making the walk over to the Langlois Bridge, aka the “van Gogh Bridge,” which was situated out in the countryside along the river, about a fifty-minute to an hour’s walk from the city center. Considering that it was a sunny (albeit super windy) day, I thought that a nice stroll would be good for me.
Walked over, and arrived around close to 13h00 at the bridge. While not very big, nevertheless its structure was quite distinctive, as it is a wooden draw bridge that was, well, drew, literally and artistically, as van Gogh had dedicated several of his paintings to the bridge.
Headed back to the city center, where I visited les Alycamps, a necropolis with a church at the end of the cemetery. Afterwards, I headed over to les Arènes d’Arles, passing by the Théâtre ancien (didn’t go inside, since I had a limit to which places I could visit with my city pass). Went inside les Arènes, and the sights of the grand amphitheater definitely transported me back to when I had visited the Colosseum in Rome (almost ten years ago, in fact). Pretty neat!
After finishing up the amphitheater, I was pretty much done seeing what I had wanted to see in Arles. All I could do now was wait for my BlaBlaCar ride to come pick me up and take me back to Nîmes. However, the driver was working the whole day, and didn’t get off until 18h00. I ended up chilling out at the train station, charging my phone and taking a break from walking around all day.
The BlaBlaCar driver was twenty to thirty minutes late for picking me up (which greatly irritated me, since it was getting dark and it was super cold outside, with the wind and everything), but eventually I got the ride back to Nîmes, arriving back at the outskirts around 19h00, where the driver dropped me off. Then it was a twenty to thirty-minute walk back to the youth hostel. However, I made a wrong turn along the way, and had to ask an elderly man walking his dog for directions. He ended up driving me back to the youth hostel, which was a really kind thing for him to do. Super grateful, since I didn’t want to waste time wandering in the night and packing up to get the hell out of that hostel and to the Couchsurfer’s flat in the center (if you didn’t read about my lodging problems in the previous post, go check it out!).
Arrived back at the hostel, grabbed all of my belongings, and went to the reception desk to cancel my last night there. Not sure if I’ll get a refund, but I’ll contact the staff about it soon- hopefully, I don’t have to pester them about it!
After I canceled, I booked myself all the way down to the city center, where I met with my Couchsurfing host, who welcomed me to his home, and all was good after that.
Overall, Arles was a cute little place, with lots of bright buildings, Roman monuments, and plenty of van Gogh charm. Unfortunately, I had gone during off-season, as the van Gogh Foundation wasn’t displaying its van Gogh collection, as well as the fact that it was still bone-chilling cold, despite being in the south of France (the wind killed me, for sure). Whether I decide to return to Arles just to see the van Gogh Foundation or not, I’m not sure- but it was a nice visit. 🙂
Second round of day trips from Nîmes happening very soon! Next up: Avignon, France!
— The Finicky Cynic
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