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  • Day20

    Avignon and Arles - Day 20

    July 19, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    Today we hopped in the bus and headed to the walled city of Arles (pronounced Arl) for a brief city tour and for a wander around.

    We passed the two-tiered Arles amphitheatre which was being set up for an evening concert. Built by the Romans in 90 AD, it was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators.

    There were many shops in Arles selling Santons (little saints), small figurines made of clay and hand-crafted with loving care. They started as figures for Nativity scenes, such as Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and the three Kings, but now reflect the life of the inhabitants and families of Provence showing traditional activities of the working men and women of Marseilles, or famous figures from Arles and the Camargue region.

    Vincent van Gogh spent a lot of time in Arles, and captured the light, the colours, and the landmarks in over 200 canvases he painted there (not a single one of which remains today). Van Gogh painted Café Terrace at Night in Arles in mid-September 1888. The subject of the painting is now Le Café La Nuit in the busy Place du Forum, which was refurbished in 1990 and 1991 to replicate the painting.

    Afterwards we went to Avignon, another walled city that was home to the Popes during the 14th century. It is the site of the Palais de Papes (Palace of the Popes) built to keep the Popes in the manner in which they were accustomed to.

    Avignon was busy with the Festival d'Avignon, an annual arts festival held every summer in July. It is the oldest extant festival in France and one of the world's greatest.
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