Arles Journals

Antique Arles

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A July 2008 trip to Arles by Liam Hetherington

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister Photo, Arles, France More Photos
Quote: The city that attacts painters is itself a work of art.

Antique Arles

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Overview

Court in Arles Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
Arles has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This is not just for its Roman heritage, but also for its Romanesque. Romanesque architecture dates from around the turn of the first millenium, and is characterised by simple, almost austere, models. Romanesque churches are low affairs, with thick walls and small windows. It wasn't until the later gothic period that the strong potential of pointed arches and flying buttresses allowed churches and cathedrals to climb towards the heavens.This is a good thing. It is impossible to deny the importance of Roman-era Arelate. Settled by veterans of Caesar's legions, the town became a trade mecca, an entry point on the route up the Rhone vall...Read More

Caravelle (La)

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Restaurant | "A Great Set Menu - with Ecrevisses!"

Caravelle (La) Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
I had a fantastic meal at la Caravelle - despite not knowing all the words on the menu!This restaurant / cocktail bar can be found in Place Constantin,a triangular space sandwiched in between the marshmallow stripes of the Thermes de Constantin, and the embankment of the River Rhone on Quai Marx Dormoy. Upstream is the Actes Sud complex; downstream the Musée Réattu. I think this was reflected in the clientele, who added a mix of cosmopolitan artistic individuals to the tourists. Though there is a dining room inside, past the bar, only one couple sat in there; everyone else crowded on to the sunshade-shaded tables outside, to enjoy the early afternoon sunlight. I may have arrived at the wro...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 12, 2008

Caravelle (La)
1 Place Constantin
Arles

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister

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Attraction | "Not Roman, but Romanesque"

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
If the Roman monuments in Arles have left you feeling a little disappointed, I can guarantee that the Romanesque monuments will not. Indeed, when Arles was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it was for its Romanesque heritage as well as its Roman. The Cathédrale St Trophime is in my opinion the jewel in Arles' crown.Emerging on to the obelisk-anchored Place de la République, it is the jazzy frontage of the Cathédrale that immediately grabs the attention. And holds it. The front jutting portal is a maelstrom of exquisite 12th-century carving, making the porch look like some sort of delicate meringue. Outwardly, it is simple. A succession of 'false' columns, half-projecting from the ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 12, 2008

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister
Place De La République
Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister

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Attraction | "More 12th-Century Carvings"

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
If you enjoyed the luscious carvings surounding the Cathédrale porch, head next door for more. An entrance off Place de la République just to the south of St Trophime. There may be queue heading off to the right here; bypass it - this is the Festival box office. Instead continue into the sundrenched courtyard. This was the private courtyard of the Arles bishopric. Indeed, the bishop's palace surrounds you now. Head diagonally across the cout to a short flight of steps. This leads up to the entrance to the cloisters. It costs €3.50, and is open from 9am to 6pm over summer.The cloisters circumnavigate a square of parched grass, set with pink blossomed trees. At first glance the grey stonewor...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Church of St. Trophime and Cloister
Place De La République
Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône

Arles Roman Amphitheatre

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Attraction | "Blood Sports For All!"

Arles Roman Amphitheatre Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
Arriving in Arles by train or bus, one of the first sights you will happen across once through the Porte de la Cavalerie is the Amphitheatre. This squat tyre-shaped arena has two levels of arches.The arena is open 9am to 6pm in summer. Entrance is €5.50, or covered by one of the two passes in town. The Pass Romain is €9.00 and gives access to Arena, Theatre, Thermes and Alyscamps. The Pass Monuments (€13.50, or €12.00 for concessions) covers the above, and also the Cloisters of St Trophime, and the Museés Réattu and Arlatan. The history of the amphitheatre is probably the most intersting thing about it. Roman Arles was already a bustling and thriving provincial city with a thea...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Arles Roman Amphitheatre
Southeast Part Of Town
Arles, France

Musee de L'Arles Antique (Ancient History Museum)

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Attraction | "A Fascinating and Informative Glimpse into Roman Arelate"

Musee de l'Arles Antique Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
The extant Roman remains of Arles left me cold; however, this fabulous in-depth museum conjures up that world. I would heartily recommend a visit to those interested in the development of the Roman colonies.The Musée de l'Arles Antique is a bit of a trek out from the town centre. It is located by the scant remains of what was once the colony's elongated circus (the central obelisk from this now stands in the Place de la République). You have to walk down the length of the Boulevard Georges Clemenceau, turn right through a carpark, left under the graffitied underpass, and past the skate park. As I trudged I thought "Why can't the museum be placed somewhere more central?" I soon saw why....Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Musee de L'Arles Antique (Ancient History Museum)
Chemin de Barriol & Ave de la 1'ere Division Fran.
Arles, France

Arles Roman Theater

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Attraction | "Disappointing Remains of a Once-grand Roman Theatre"

Arles Roman Theater Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
Just south of the Arena, through Place Henri Bornier, sits the earlier Roman theatre. This was once a massive edifice when first constructed in the 1st century BC. It was also lavishly decorated. The Venus of Arles that once graced it now resides in the Louvre, though a copy is in the Musée de l'Arles Antique, along with the theatre's statues of dancers and the Emperor Augustus. Once it would have rivalled the theatre upstream in Orange. Once it sat 10,000 people. Today however this theatre is but a shadow of its former self. Used for masonry by later generations of townsfolk, or just built over, its adornments spirited away to museums, all that remains now is a shallow saucer with only two tiers of s...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Arles Roman Theater
South East Corner Of Town
Arles, France

Thermes de Constantin

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Attraction | "Scanty Remains of the Roman Public Baths"

Thermes de Constantin Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
Another legacy of the Roman era is the Thermes de Constantin. These public baths beside the Rhone date from comparatively late in the Imperial age, probably built as late as the 4th century.From the exterior you can still get an idea of their former grandeur. There is a bulbous 'apse'-like affair, constructed of white brickwork, interspersed with pink tiling, like a marshmallow. This is interesting, as it prefigures the fanous pink banding that historically identified the walls of Christian Constantinople. Inside are the remains of three separate chambers - caldarium (hot room), tepidarium (warm room), and frigidarium (cold room). The complex probably extended further in its heyday, with c...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Thermes de Constantin
Rue Dominique-Maisto
Arles

Alyscamps

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Attraction | "An Atmospheric Wander in the Elysian Fields of Arles..."

Roman & Romanesque Photo, Arles, France
Quote:
A dreaded sunny day, so let's go where we're happy and I'll meet you at the cemetry gates [sic]. This south-eastern adjunct to the town centre, a narrow shaded pathway, is wonderfully atmospheric. If Arles' Roman monuments failed to really impress me, whilst the Romanesque did, this brief walk combines the best of both worlds.Roman citizens were always buried without the town walls. Ancient Arelate had necropolises flanking the roads from each of its gates. This graveyard survives due to the first bishop of Arles, St Genest. When he was buried here, the place became attractive to worshippers. Christian graves hence were nestled next to Roman tombs. Indeed, the name 'Les Alyscamps' translat...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 13, 2008

Alyscamps
Near St Trophime
Arles, France