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Arles was the first stop on what I was calling my "AAA" trip, Alres, Avignon and Aix. First a map...

Arles is about half way up on the extreme left of the map.

To get there I took a train from Nice to Marseille, then a smaller train on to Arles.

Arles was a major Roman colony, often referred to as the "Rome of Gaul", it is situated on the Rhˆ¥ne river. Van Gogh painted some 200 works while in Arles including "Sunflowers" and "Starry Night Over the Rhone". This is also where he cut off his ear and was initially hospitalized.

Arles turned out be my favorite of the three. It is packed with stuff to see, is very walkable, and is of a scale that is very easy to grasp. It also was not overrun with tourists and had a really first rate museum.

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It is hard to envision it, but this is roughly the spot from where Van Gogh painted "Starry Night Over the Rhone". The gallery picture is the "real thing" from my trip to the Museˆ© D'Orsay in Paris.

Most of the waterfront area of Arles was heavily bombed during WWII.

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< D'Orsay/Paris

IMG_4266 Place de la Rˆ©publique (Main Square) in Arles. Hotel de Ville (later) to the left, an Egyptian obelisk that used to stand in the middle of the Coliseum and Saint Trophime Cathedral.
The interior of Saint Trophime is nothing much, although it has hosted such dignitaries as our friend Barbarossa, but the facade is really spectacular and not just because it has recently been restored. Basically telling the story of the final judgement, notice the condemned sinners in flames and Jesus surrounded by the animal representations of the major saints. IMG_4092 IMG_4102IMG_4103IMG_4130
The Cloister "CloˆÆtre" at St. Trophime is also very nice. IMG_4211 IMG_4214 IMG_4225 IMG_4217 IMG_4218 IMG_4224
Hotel de Ville

1673-1675 A spectacular ceiling on the first floor. Funky design and get this... no mortar!

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IMG_4152 One very nice surprise was The Arles Museum of Antiquities (my translation) or Musˆ©e de l'Arles Antique http://www.arles-antique.org/ it was very open, set up well and had a very high quality collection. The picture is of a ligurian stele depicting horses which were believed to take the souls of the dead to the underworld.
Roman and early Christian sarcophagi, most of which originally sat in Les Alyscamps (below) but were kind of pillaged by the town and occasionally given as gifts. IMG_4153IMG_4154IMG_4165IMG_4170
Let's see... First picture, I think the end one is Hardrian, or Tiberius, the middle guy is Markus Orillias (sp?)... IMG_4158IMG_4163IMG_4162IMG_4164
IMG_4160 This is a model of the Roman Circus at Arles. There is practically nothing left of it, but as you can tell it was very large, 450 meters long, 101 meters wide, and could hold 20,000 spectators. It was built in the 2nd century AD. One end of it can still be seen below grade just outside the museum.
IMG_4166 I thought the old keys were neat
IMG_4168 This is a model of a fascinating multilevel mill that was outside of Arles. Notice how there is a water wheel on each side at each of the 7 levels of the building.
IMG_4169 Yup, those are Roman water pipes. These are the first I have seen above ground. Very sophisticated, but unfortunately for the Romans made out of lead.
Very nice recovered mosaic floors. One showing the kidnapping of Europe, a common theme. IMG_4173IMG_4171
IMG_4180 Weights used in measuring and commerce.
IMG_4186 With the amount of "noses" that are broken off of status it is amazing that humans don't suffer from this more often.
IMG_4187 Very nice bronze statue of Nike, or Victory.
IMG_4191 Athena
IMG_4192 Fantastic bronze cherub fellow with bird.
More beautiful mosaic panels. IMG_4195IMG_4198IMG_4199
IMG_4206 Oil lamp from a section of the exhibit on Algeria.
Back into downtown Arles... The Cryptoportico of the Forum, 30-20BC is the now buried lower level of the Roman Forum. You get there by going through the floor of this neat Baroque church. There are two "U" shaped galleries IMG_4230 IMG_4233 IMG_4236
Roman theater, 27-5 BC, most of it seems to have been carted away. IMG_4246IMG_4243IMG_4238
Amphitheater/Arena, built around 90AD, currently used as a bullfighting ring, in the8th century turned into a fortress (hence the towers) and as a mini city had some 200 buildings inside of it. Good views (below) IMG_4248IMG_4249IMG_4250IMG_4252IMG_4253
Constantines Bath, 4th century AD...the largest remaining in Provence. The pillars of stone were used to hold up the floor and allowed hot air to circulate from below. This would have been the same design used in the baths at Nice. IMG_4257IMG_4260IMG_4258
IMG_4263 Picasso poster from Musˆ©e Rˆ©attu, the worlds most humid museum.
In Place du Forum is the subject of Van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace" (can you tell?), sorry I didn't get a better angle or waited until nightfall. The owners painted it yellow, though originally it was only yellow because of the light. IMG_4267
IMG_4268 "Interesting" translation in my hotel room. "In case of fire...warm the reception"
Evening views in Arles. The remains of the bridge are Roman, over 2000 years old, and once supported a boat bridge across the Rhone. IMG_4273IMG_4270IMG_4271IMG_4272
The Alyscamps, a Roman and early Christian cemetery. Mentioned in Dante's "Inferno". IMG_4233IMG_4228IMG_4229IMG_4230
Both Van Gogh and Gaugin painted scenes from les Alyscamps.
St. Honorats church, 12th Century, at the end of Les Alyscamps. IMG_4231IMG_4232