A for Arles, amphitheatre and the Alyscamps


Earlier in the day, we’d seen this little white train that did tours through the town. We made a note to go for a ride (hey, be a tourist), but as it turns out, we never did.

Our original plan was that once we got to Arles, we’d rent a car and explore the countryside. I’d also wanted to go to the asylum in at St Remy de Provence where Van Gogh stayed after he left Arles.

Arles - Amphiteatre two columns left standing

This is inside the amphitheatre that is in front of the hotel. This view is from "back stage". Originally there was a full row of columns across the back of the stage.

But things changed. First off, it was Sunday and the car rental places were closed. Secondly, the next day was also a holiday, so, same deal. And lastly, we decided there was plenty to see in Arles so that going elsewhere just meant we were missing what was right in front of us.

Arles - govt office entrance

Local government office entrance. Do you think the pace is a bit slower there?

For the next day, we had a few things on our list: see the Alyscamps which are the ancient cemeteries on the edge of town, see the hospital where Van Gogh stayed after the famous “ear slicing” incident, tour the forum, see the main square and tour a couple of the churches.

Arles - Alyscamp tomb with cross

Having even a small tomb on the Alyscamps was a big deal. Having a monument like this meant you were some kind of royalty.

The other thing I had been looking for was an adapter for the Mac laptop that we had brought along with us. I had bought an adapter, a very expensive deluxe model that I was sure would handle anything. I had a small work assignment to do while I was here, but knew it would take me longer than the battery would last, hence the adapter. At one point, in our room, I decided to try it out. And that’s when I found out that my over-priced adapter wouldn’t take an ordinary 3-pronged plug, like the one at the end of the Mac cord. It was a real WTF moment. I couldn’t believe that a plug with outputs for every known country, wouldn’t have an input for a 3-prong plug. (Pay attention to your adapters says the newly wise man.)

So, as we had walked around town, I had asked a couple of times if anyone sold adapters. Given this was Sunday, I didn’t have many places to ask.

When we got back to the hotel, there was a girl sitting on the step writing on a Mac laptop. I asked her whether she used one, and she pulled a really simple adapter out of her bag which she said she’d picked up in a variety store years ago. That gave me hope. I’d check the little stores the next day.

Arles - view from front of hotel

Early morning café in front of the hotel. Amphitheatre is on the left side. The curved road leads down to Van Gogh's café terrace.

I woke up early the next morning and slipped downstairs for a pre-breakfast café. Marlene was still sleeping. I got one of the three little tables they’d set up outside of the hotel. At the next table, two couples were laughing about something in the paper. From what I could make out, it had to do with politicians. Maybe Sarkozy was up to something again. He seems to go from one scandal to the next.

I sat for a while over my espresso. Once again, it was one of those scenes that made you stop and just be there. A perfect Sunday summer morning in Arles. Right in front of me was a Roman amphitheatre and around the corner to my right, the two-storey forum. Too bad we weren’t there for bullfighting season. It would start again later in the year.


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