Christmas in Arles, Provence

I have to admit that I was surprised at the number of people who said to me, "Where's that?" when I told them I was going to Arles. For years, Arles has been "one of those places" that I've longed to see, with great Roman ruins and beautiful medieval buildings. There's the added allure of Provence, with images of lavender and olive oil and fine wines and good food. So when Tom suggested we go there for Christmas and New Years, 2014-15, I was ready!

Getting there (and back) was more work than I realized it would take. We flew United Airlines from Chicago to Paris (O'Hare to DeGaulle), where we transferred to a train (TGV, the French bullet train), which got us to Avignon, where we switched to the regional bus to get to Arles. We left my apartment at 2:30 on a Monday afternoon and arrived at our rental house in Arles at 7:30 on Tuesday evening.

While in Arles, we managed to resurrect the energy to see a lot, including

  1. Several days and nights exploring the beautiful, very interesting town of Arles
  2. Two afternoons in the Camargue, bird watching, including stops in Stes. Maries de la Mer and Salin de Giraud (the salt flats)
  3. Aigues Mortes, a walled city that was the launching point for one of the Crusades
  4. Les Baux, the ruined mountaintop chateau where you can explore to your heart's content (caution advised), plus side-trips to the Arles aqueduct ruins and a historic windmill
  5. Pont du Gard, the great Roman aqueduct that brought water to Nimes
  6. Avignon, the medieval home of the Popes, and source of a famous song about a broken bridge
  7. A night in Paris.

Along the way we enjoyed a circus, walked the banks of the Rhone, toured historic monuments and churches, hit the weekly market, drank copious quantities of Côte du Rhône wine, and cooked superb duck breasts for Christmas dinner.

Arriving in Arles