Arles, May 18-20

Trip Start May 09, 2008
Trip End May 25, 2008

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18, 19, and 20

Arles was our stop in southern France. Arles is in the Provence Region of France and sets along the Rhone River. We decided to visit here because we were interested in the region in general and because Arles is near the Delta of the Rhone River and near a large wetlands area called the Camargue. Vincent Van Gogh also spent some time in Arles and painted some of our favorite works here. As you walk around the town there are markers on the sidewalk that indicate the places and views that inspired Van Gogh's paintings. Our hotel had the same view of the Rhone River that inspired his "La Nuit Etoilee" (starry night on the Rhone).

Arles has some interesting Roman architecture, and we visited four different Roman sights. The most impressive was the Arena. The Romans built it 2,000 years ago, and the people of Arles still use it today, mainly for non-lethal and Spanish bullfights. Unfortunately, no events took place while we were in town. We also visited an outdoor theater, baths, and a cemetery (all Roman ruins, except they still use the theater for concerts).

Aaron had met a researcher that worked in Arles at a scientific conference a few years ago. We decided to look him up in advance of our trip, and he was willing to give us a tour of his research facilities and the area. The Camargue serves as a migration staging area and wintering area for many migratory birds in Europe. Most people are interested in the Flamingos that live there year round. We saw a number of them and visited their nesting colony. We saw some ducks and geese but most had already moved north to their breeding grounds.

Arles was our second "smaller" town of our trip. By this time, we had become comfortable traveling in France and started to enjoy the people as much as the sights. Below is a picture of Aaron with some crazy Frenchmen at a little restaurant/bar. We were the only tourist customers in the place and there were only a handful of locals. Overall, we picked a great place to spend our last days in France.

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