Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

My Photo
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

France 2008 - Arles, May 16

When we planned on spending 9 days in Arles, we thought we would get out of the city almost every day, to go see somewhere else in the area, like Aix and Avignon and Nimes. Having arrived late on Wednesday, we thought by Friday we would take our first day trip. But we seemed content to stay, even in the small Old Arles and just walk around and see what was there. So we bought a museum pass which allowed for entry into 8 different museums or sites and since it was raining on Friday, we decided to start looking at them then.
France 2008
We bought the museum pass at the information booth at the train station but you can get them in many other spots, including the museums themselves. We started at the ancient Roman Arena, built about 90AD having been first carved out of the hillside. Imagine walking on stones where people had trod 2000 years before you. Giant stone steps led up to the top of the arena and there was a medieval tower which stood even higher that gave a great view of the city. I could feel the steps in my quads the next day.

There was some restoration going on. I wasn't sure if they were doing more than just cleaning the stone of the 50 years or so of internal combustion engine pollution. I am thinking that someone should ban driving most cars in Old Arles, as the pollution is ruining everything including my lungs. But what political will would that take?

The day before, we had been to St. Trophime, the church on the Place de la Revolution which was started in the 1100s. It was the first, truly old building that Peter had ever encountered, given that he had only travelled in North America prior to this. It was wonderful to watch him grasp the fact that the paving stones in this still operational church had been laid 800 years before he got there. The main nave columns were Romanesque which is a style that I find serene and calm. The apse and side chapels had more Gothic arches, as they were built later. One side chapel was barred off with ornate iron work and contained more reliquaries than you could shake a stick at. I saw femurs in one of them!
France 2008
Even as impressive as an 800 year old church is, it's hard to beat walking up the steps in an arena that is still being used, where people had walked 2000 years before.

Later, we went to the Musee Arlatan, established by local poet Frederic Mistral after he won the Nobel prize for poetry in 1905. For years, he had collected artifacts of local culture and when he won the prize, he turned his family home (itself old and built on Roman ruins) into a museum.

We looked up some other museums on our pass but found that they were closed for construction or renovation, which explains the discount we got when we bought the pass. We are staying at the Hotel du Musee which is directly opposite the Musee Reattu, named for some fellow I am sorry I never heard of, who himself painted but also collected Picasso. We still have not visited it and are saving it for when we have run out of other things to do. In fact, they are busy setting up an exhibit of a local and still living artist (a couturier) Christian Lacroix and have been having parties in advance to celebrate the opening.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home