Trip Start Apr 30, 2008
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Le Cloitre

Flag of France  , Provence,
Saturday, May 17, 2008

Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. It was another French breakfast of a croissant, jam, OJ and coffee. I went to the train station as I was taking a quick trip to Avignon for the morning. Hartley didn't feel like going with me and wanted to hang around and do laundry. We have been washing our clothes in sinks, and he wanted to get clothes properly washed .

I made my way to Avignon which wasn't far away at all. Avignon is a lot bigger than Arles and it was nice that the old town was very close to the train station so I could walk everywhere. I saw St. Benezet's Bridge which part of it is collapsed from a flood in something like the 14th century or so. You could pay to walk on it, but what is the use of paying to walk on something that doesn't take you anywhere. There is a children's nursery rhyme that apparently French kids sing about this bridge that I heard playing and it is stuck in my head. I climbed up to a great vantage point to see great views of the bridge and the Rhone valley.

After relaxing a bit up top, I made my way to the Palace of the Popes. It was built in the 1300's and was the Pope's residence for a while as it was unsafe to stay in Vatican City at that time. It was massive! It was empty inside and was unfurnished, but you had an informative audio guide that described what each room was and its purpose. It is so neat to see such massive structures that are in such good shape hundreds of years later. I thought the tour was well worth the admission and would highly recommend going here.

Wandered through the streets of the old town and I preferred the character/charm of Arles more. There were lots of school kids running around and none of the shops appealed to me. It may be good if you wanted a bigger city feel that had more shopping and nightlife, but not for me. Although Arles is quite dead at night! I like how on our trip we have a nice balance between cities and towns. I also like shopping, but seeing as Paris is our next stop, why waste my time here??

I made my way back to Arles and met up with Hartley and we ended up strolling aimlessly through the streets of Arles. I love the buildings here with there colorful doors and window shutters. The lanes are so narrow as well. I saw a grandmother with her kids walking with a loaf of french bread and a car whipped by them and chopped of her bread! I couldn't stop taking pictures of the doorways and windows, and was loving the way everyone took such pride of their houses and put out flowers beside their door and on their windows. We stopped in bakeries and enjoyed the croissants and pastries that were freshly baked.

We wanted to go eat dinner somewhere, but all of the restaurants are closed until 7 pm. We are so used to eating at 5 pm that we filled ourselves with pastries until they opened! Hard life, I know! We walked by a lot of Van Gogh sites. Van Gogh lived in Arles for a few years and painted a lot of the buildings/scenery here. Around town you will come across easels of his paintings that will show you where he painted.

We stopped for dinner at a place called La Boheme. We had enjoyed last nights meal so much that we were willing to splurge on another expensive meal. The restaurant was filled with Japanese tourists and another Canadian couple. They said they knew we were Canadian as apparently I cut my meat differently. They were very nice to chat to and they ended up joining us at our table and we talked about our travels and drank lots of wine!

Hartley and I then finished off our evening by going to the Vincent Van Gogh Cafe that he portrayed in one of his famous paintings. We didn't stay long because a dog pooped in front of our table and no one came to clean it up. Hows that for a lasting impression??

What we liked about Arles:
Roman ruins were neat to see, St Trophime Church, small narrow streets, doors and shutters!, good food/wine

What we disliked:
Lots of dog poo on the streets, scooter noise, pretty dead at night but on the plus side, if you want to be somewhere quiet for relaxing evening strolls, this is the place!

Ideal stay would be 2 nights unless you want to do lots of day trips.
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