Spring…the Season of Hospitality: Part 1 in Arles

April proved to be a very friendly month…two of my friends came to spend time with me! It takes quite a bit of devotion to give up more than a week of time and work, and a sizable chunk of weak dollars to come all the way over here to share France with me, but they did it! The first was Sherry, one of my dearest friends.

She's here! Sheer joy! The adventure has already begun.

She’s here! Sheer joy! The adventure has already begun.

Her first morning with us was April First, which in France is Poisson d’Avril. This is a time of practical jokes, consisting almost entirely of children attaching drawings of fish to adults, accompanied by many giggles. Chocolate fish are also frequently given to kids at this time, invariably filled with, well, more fish.

Haha!

Haha!

Petits poissons.

Les petits poissons.

Sherry and I spent some girl-time visiting Arles in Provence. It was a little early for the stereotypical lavender and sunflowers, but it was still lovely. Arles was one of the dirtier, more run-down cities I’ve visited, but it was still charming, and the hunt for Van Gogh sites was a lot of fun.

Our hotel front, which would be striking in another couple of weeks.

Our hotel front, which would be striking in another couple of weeks.

The hotel proprietor was very friendly and helpful, and the breakfasts were great, as deluxe continentals. I didn’t take any photos from the room window, though, as I am accustomed to, because it was a very unprepossessing alley. Come visit Arles with us!

This will last a bit, and the cappuccino was yummy!

This will last a bit, and the cappuccino was yummy!

This lovely carousel outside the tourist center is decorated with Arles-related scenes. Yes, French bullfighting.

This lovely carousel outside the tourist center is decorated with Arles-related scenes. Yes, French bullfighting.

The Van Gogh yellow cafe.

The Van Gogh yellow cafe.

What the yellow cafe actually looks like.

What the yellow cafe actually looks like.

An old Romanesque church in Arles.

An old Romanesque church in Arles.

Some of Van Gogh's paintings were along this river bank.

Some of Van Gogh’s paintings were along this river bank.

A tasty dinner in a wonderful environment with the best of company.

A tasty dinner in a wonderful environment with the best of company.

We were quite surprised to find streets names in giant Braille. Interesting that it is SO LARGE.

We were quite surprised to find streets names in giant Braille. Interesting that it is SO LARGE.

I really enjoyed the windows in Arles, and have a bit of a collection. I am considering a series of windows in acrylics.

I love the wood texture here.

I love the wood texture here.

I think this is a brilliant idea!

I think this is a brilliant idea!

Looks like the churchman is out walking his dog.

Looks like the churchman is out walking his dog.

What actually surprised me in Arles was its Roman roots. I was really impressed with how the medieval city was built onto and incorporated the Roman city, and how much is left to see. Well, the scope of it was pretty amazing.

We started out at the museum, whose models of the old Roman landmarks were eye opening.

The museum is built on one section of the old hippodrome racetrack. I wouldn't have dreamed how big  it used to be!

The museum is built on one section of the old hippodrome racetrack. I wouldn’t have dreamed how big it used to be!

The remains of some of the forum columns have been incorporated into this hotel. The museum's model made clear what a tiny portion of the forum this is, and how far above the Roman streets the modern streets are.

The remains of some of the forum columns have been incorporated into this hotel. The museum’s model made clear what a tiny portion of the forum this is, and how far above the Roman streets the modern streets are.

And then, of course, there was the amphitheater, still in use for concerts, bull games and a couple of times a year, bull fighting.

This Roman amphitheater had two towers added as fortifications in medieval times.

This Roman amphitheater had two towers added as fortifications in medieval times.

Our stay in Arles was short and cloudy, but we next visited Toulouse and Barcelona. It was wonderful to get to share some of my favorite places with my friend!

 

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