Arles

First, I would like to comment on the charm of the three cheek kiss.

Ok, that important point having been made, I started off this morning with a nice walk along the Rhône (and an accidental journey into some unnamed neighborhood) to the ancient history museum. Did you know that one of the reasons behind Rome’s success was its use of concrete in building? Now I do.

The highlight of the museum was the display of a 100 foot long barge, brought up from the bottom of the river, researched, restored, protected and put on display. A 20 minute documentary tells the story of the astonishing amount of effort that went into to this endeavor, especially considering it may have taken all of ten minutes to sink (it was a stone transport). Also from the museum, Hawaii friends and family: check out the petroglyph.

After the museum, I strolled through the inviting residential area of La Roquerre. I even found a fantastic vegan lunch spot. Hallelujah. It’s a small, one-woman operation, and she was invaded at lunchtime by others of my persuasion.

I don’t know if I’ve been influenced over the decades by stories of the magic of Provence’s light, but it does seem rather special. I’m searching for the best word to describe it. Translucent? Diaphanous? Delicate? Un certain quelque chose . . .

Je ne sais quoi.

After lunch I visited the Réuttu Museum, Monsieur Réattu being a beloved artist of Arles. His work was the main feature; he had an intense interest in the human body, including how fabric draped over it. Besides the many complete works, the exhibition also featured the numerous studies he did before the final works, revealing the depth of his obsession to absolutely, positively, minutely get it right. The museum also had some contemporary shows, including photography, which made me very, very happy.

Later in the afternoon, I found a spot at the curve of the river and sat along the embankment near the remains of a WWII bombed bridge. (Arles was occupied by the German Army and trashed by Allied bombers.) The weather was spectacular, but why this lovely river bank has not one bench is a mystery to me. Strangely, there was barely any river activity, except that today divers are snooping around that sunken boat, a venture I have lots of respect for after this morning’s film.

Here are some photos. I’m guessing you have had your fill of shutters and narrow lanes.

P.S. There is a flamingo reserve nearby, and the Romans apparently saw them.

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