We started our day with a bus ride to the Chateau des Hospitaliers which is home to an outstanding winery. We learned all about the variety of grapes they grow, how they collect and press the grapes and finally how they are fermented into outstanding wines (tasted at lunch). Our guide, Sylviane, is the co-owner with her husband. She clearly knows her stuff.
The winery tour was followed by lunch at the Chateau. Check out the spread below. We sat on the patio enjoying great food and a beautiful day.
Back on the bus and on to the Le Pont du Gard. It's the site of a Roman aqueduct that's still in working order, although no water flows through it. They estimate it contains 50,000 tons (100,000,000 pounds) of stone. It's magnificent. We even walked to the top for a great view of aqueduct and the Gardon River it crosses.
Our day ended with dinner together at the La Brasserie des 2G...just around the corner from our hotel...literally.
Our full day in Arles started with a guide tour of the city center. There are a number of Roman ruins and (very interesting) a number of places where Van Gogh created paintings. It's obvious that locals are intent on keeping these locations in sync with the painting. But it's still cool.
Our free time that afternoon was spent visiting the Alyscamps (a cemetery dating back to the Romans) and the Canigou Flame ceremony. The Canigou Flame ceremony is an all day celebration of the Catalan people. We witnessed the ceremony during the day where the flame was brought into town and then the evening festivities where locals, dressed in traditional costumes, celebrated through dance. Be sure to view the videos. The day ended with a huge bonfire the finale of the celebration. A fun day for all.
Another group performing...watch the kids in particular...priceless!
The Canigou Flame, the Evening
Near the entrance
looking down the main road
Falling Autumn Leaves
The main road
The marker still in place after thousands of years
From Wikipedia: The Alyscamps is a large Roman necropolis, which is a short distance outside the walls of the old town of Arles, France. It was one of the most famous necropolises of the ancient world.
Roman cities traditionally forbade burials within the city limits. It was therefore common for the roads immediately outside a city to be lined with tombs and mausoleums; the Appian Way outsideRome provides a good example. The Alyscamps was Arles' main burial ground for nearly 1,500 years. It was the final segment of the Aurelian Way leading up to the city gates and was used as a burial ground for well-off citizens, whose memorials ranged from simple sarcophagi to elaborate monuments. more...
An interesting place. The tombs and their inscriptions are well preserved. Pros: there are a lot of Roman artifacts to see, these' s a Medieval Church to visit and the place isn't busy. Cons: you pay to get in, once you've see one empty sarcophagi you've pretty much seen them all and the Medieval Church is basically a shell.
CHATEAU DES HOSPITALIERS
Sylviane Leplatre is one of the owners of the winery.
There's a picture of her husband Serge (Martin-Pierrat) below.
Notice the noise in the background?
It's the locust in the wooded area around the winery.
From Rick Steves: The Pont du Gard reminds us that throughout the ancient world, aqueducts were stone flags heralding the greatness of Rome. And they still proclaim the wonders of that age. This perfectly preserved Roman bridge supported a canal or aqueduct on the very top. It was a critical link, helping keep a steady river of water flowing cross-country to Nîmes one of the Roman Empires largest cities. Remarkably, the water dropped only one inch for every 350 feet. Let`s go inside.
Our first look
Crossing the first layer
Looking down onto the Gardon River
Near the top
The water channel at the top
A group walking through the water channel
Le Pont du Gard 400 Route du Pont du Gard 30210 Vers-Pont-du-Gard
CHURCH OF ST. TROPHIME
From Wikipedia: The Church of St. Trophime (Trophimus) is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral built between the 12th century and the 15th century in the city of Arles, in the Bouches-du-Rhône Department of southern France. The church is an important example of Romanesque architecture, and the sculptures over the portal, particularly the Last Judgement, and the columns in the adjacent cloister, are considered some of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture.
The church was built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles, named for St. Stephen. In the 15th century a Gothic choir was added to the Romanesque nave. more...
Describing the main altar
Stained glass above the altar
Church of St. Trophime 12 Rue du Cloitre 13200 Arles, France Tel: +33 4 90 96 07 38
There is a lot to see in Arles so I won't recommend you spend your time on this. It's basically a simple tunnel underground with some remnants of previous structures.
Looking down the main corridor
An interesting column head
Cryptoportiques Rue Balze Arles Tel: 04 90 49 36 74
L'ESPACE VAN GOGH
From Wikipedia: Hospital at Arles is the subject of two paintings that Vincent van Gogh made of the hospital in which he stayed in December 1888 and again in January 1889. The hospital is located in Arlesin southern France
Local guide describes the garden
More of the garden
Our visit to the garden
Van Gogh`s painting of the garden
L'Espace van Gogh
LE CAFE 'LA NUIT'
This restaurant is both interesting and disappointing. Interesting in that it appears almost identical to the painting by Van Gogh (no coincidence...) and disappointing because they charge a great deal for, what appeared to be (since we DID NOT eat here) ordinary food. Beware.
From Van Gogh`s point of view
Le cafe 'La Nuit' 11 Place du Forum 13200 Arles
THE CANIGOU FLAME
From Wikipedia: This mountain is a symbol for Catalan people. On its top there is across that is often decorated with the Catalan flag.
Every year on 23 June, the night before St. John's day (nit de Sant Joan), there is a ceremony called Flama del Canigó (CanigouFlame), where a fire is lit at the mountaintop. People spend the night there and take torches lit on that fire in a spectacular torch relay to light bonfires somewhere else. Some estimates conclude that about 30,000 bonfires are lit in this way all over Catalonia on that night.
We've been lucky on many of our trips coming upon activities/ceremonies that only occur on one day of the year. The Conigou Flame is one of those activities. As you can see from the pictures there's a lot of ceremony involved and a lot of groups participate. Cool!
Crowds gather outside the town hall
The flame arrives
More festive participants
A banner that explains it all
The Canigou Flame
LA BRASSERIE DES 2G
Wall art stacked up
La Brasserie des 2G 28 Rond-Point des Arènes 13200 Arles Tel: +33 4 22 84 01 16
LA TAVERNE DU FORUM
Waiting for dinner
The `Front Door`
Out front looking in
La Taverne du Forum 13 Place du Forum 13200 Arles Tel: +33 4 90 96 08 80
Lori and Dan coming from the front entrance
View from our room
Hotel Calendal 5 rue Porte de Laure 13200, Arles Tel: 011 33 4 90 96 11 89 FAX: 011 33 4 90 96 05 84