On the advice of Jill at A Walkers’ Word, we decided to stay on in Avignon for an extra night so that we could take in some of the historic sights on offer. Having completed our unguided ride, we moved the following morning to a different hotel (Kyriad Cap Sud), since we could not stay on a Le Lavarin. Jill had booked a private afternoon tour to Arles, Nimes and Pont Du Gard – Roman sites and Historical Places, so we spent the morning in bustling Avignon, which was still bulging with festival artists and tourists. We did a little shopping, enjoyed more street theatre, and ate in the shade in the bustling Place de l’Horloge.
Feeling sated, we headed off to the Tourism Office to rendezvous with our tour guide, Elodie. We expected to have a few others on the tour, but were delighted to find that it was only we two in the comfortable mini-van. Our driver was a lovely young woman who was very flexible, and was happy to oblige our desire to see Arles, Nimes and the Pont du Gard, though the tour was advertised as Nimes, Uzes and Pont Du Gard. So we substiuted Arles for Uzes and we were delighted that we did, although I have since heard that Uzes should not be missed, so I am keen to see it on our return next year.
We had only limited time explore Arles which is in the Bouche-du-Rhone department (in the region fo Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), so we decided just to wander the streets and take things as they came. Arles has a wonderful Roman amphitheatre – it is an imposing and magnificent structure but perhaps not as impressive as the one we would soon see in Nimes. Arles definitely has different feel to it- apparently more of a Spanish influence, though as I have not been to Spain, I could not compare.
The ubiquitous Hotel de Ville was set in a large square, where people were simply relaxing in the sun or finding a shady spot to rest – in fact on reflection, the whole place had a relaxed air to it. Arles is pretty, with orange roofops, delightful streets and I always delight when I see washing hanging from the windows! There were shutters galore too, to keep me happy. I was so excited when we found L’Espace Van Gogh, the place where Van Gogh recuperated after the ear incident….. It was busy – full of tourists, but was a profusion of floral colour and a welcome respite from the hot sun.
As we returned to our pick up point, we found an enticing shop selling glace icecream, and of course had to sample the goods – delicious and refreshing on such a hot afternoon! Next stop – Nimes….