Friday, 1 August 2014


We went to Arles this week mainly to see the amphitheatre, but also to try and get in touch with our artistic inner selves  - Vincent Van Gogh lived here a couple of years before he died and critics say he produced his best works during his stay in this little town.

Before we embarked on our gladiator adventure, we stopped at a little cafe just outside the amphitheatre to take in the atmosphere of the town. It looks like Thomas is about to eat all these himself, but it was one each for me, Mark and Amy.
This was our view as we drank cafe au lait and shared a trio de sandwichs. The amphitheatre has recently been refurbished hence it's clean white look.

The road that leads down to the entrance is full of little shops. It is much more commercialised than Uzes but still not over the top. Above all the shops are apartments. Imagine waking up to the sight of an amphitheatre every day. Mark says it's probably annoying for them having their view restricted! What a heathen.

Built in 90AD the arena could seat more than 20,000.
     It was strange to think of all the people who have walked through these arches and into the arena over the centuries, quite probably to their deaths.
Thomas was particularly taken with the thought of being a gladiator going out to fight the lions and tigers and bears - OH MY!
While Amy preferred to go up the steps to be a spectator. The stone is that smooth in some places it's quite slippy.

In the medieval era 4 towers were added to the amphitheatre and it became a fortress, with over 200 houses and 2 chapels built inside. In the 1820's these were knocked down and it was restored to it's former glory plus the towers that remain intact.

The arena is still used for bullfights, concerts and plays.

The only area that was inaccessible was the actual arena. Apart from that we could wander up, down and around as much as we liked.

We sat where Romans had once sat.....
And I dared to tread where Romans and Gladiators had once trod.

But I wasn't able to read this inscription.

The view of the town from up high was amazing. Arles has a flavour of France, Italy and Spain all rolled into one. You can just make out the River Rhone in the background.

The structure of the whole thing is absolutely amazing.

It fascinates me to think how they constructed such magnificent buildings thousands of years ago.
 That have withstood the test of time and still stand proudly in the 21st century.
 For those who are interested, mesozoic limestone was used which was hauled from inland quarries. 
On our way back to the car we walked through a little park and happened to bump into Vincent himself. 

This is a painting he did in 1888 called Les Arena. Some of his paintings I like, some not so much. This falls into the latter. 
Maybe I'm a heathen as well!

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