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[FRANCE] A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

"At some point, we thought we arrived into ancient Roman city in Italy. However we were wrong, this is Arles, France"

Initially, we never intended to include Arles in our itinerary. 

However when we realized the train to Nice to Bordeaux will be consuming at least 8 hours, we decided to make a layover at this small town, and it was a great discovery. The small town Arles boasts some well-preserved Roman buildings, including a still intact amphitheater. At the same time, the town is also associated with renowned Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh where he produced some of his masterpieces. 

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles
At Arles Amphitheater

What to do in Arles

The old town of Arles is small and we explored in by foot within a day. Though there are some attractions located in a distance away which are reachable by other means of transportation.

1) Les Arènes d'Arles (Arles Amphitheater)

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

The Roman Amphitheater is located in the center of old town and surrounded by various restaurants and souvenir shops. Being built in the 90 AD, the amphitheater is aged at least 2000 years. The protruding towers in the monument are built during the medieval age later. Currently, the area is actively being used for horse and bull racing during summer. 

If you are here, spend some time to understand the history of the amphitheater (if you have a tour guide) and snap some wonderful picture here.

Entrance fees is €9, which included the entrance to the neighbouring Roman theater. 

2) Antique Theater (Roman Theater)

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

Built at the end of 1st century BC, the Roman Theater is less well preserved compared to its neighbour Arles Amphitheater. Only a few stands remained - the orchestra, the pit of the stage curtain and two tall marble columns topped with a fragment of entablature, therefore still enable its usage as a performance venue during summer. 

Up to 10000 spectators can be accommodated in the Roman Theater.

3) Stroll Across the Old Town

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles
Place de la Republique near City Hall
The old town center of Arles has a lot of charming attributes to offer. Old house built in grey limestone with pastel-coloured shutters on brick and uneven pathway brought out the heritage value of this area. 

If you have time, take a stroll in the evening near to river Rhone to enjoy the spectacular sunset view. Coupling with the minimal presence of noise population arises from the car, it made a walk here in the evening a thing that many urbanites wished for.

4) Van Gogh

The renowned Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh spent some time in Arles and you can find many of his traits here. Among the examples are Foundation Van Gogh, which promotes Van Gogh's artistic vision and organise regular exhibition, though no painting of Van Gogh is being demonstrated here.

Another place is Pont Van Gogh, the bridge on the canal which was painted various times by Van Gogh. 

    What We ate

    1) La Dolce Vita

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles
    Cafe Au Lait

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    The town hosts a handful of restaurants and it did not take us long to decide to dine in at La Dolce Vita, an Italian restaurant. 

    We had a Calzone as the food was registered to our mind when we saw the video of Gennaro Contaldo, a renowned Italian Chef and restaurateur demonstrated the ways to bake a delicious Calzone utilizing herbs picked from his garden. The size of Calzone served really shocked us as it was bigger than our face! 

    It has ham, eggs and some vegetable as filling, and the egg yolks diffuses from the crisp skin upon slicing it to half. The picture of Shirleen holding the calzone ultimately won Shirleen a return ticket from Penang - Doha via Qatar Airways, which she did not manage to utilize. I still recalled how the owner smiled at us when we were attempting to take the picture.

    On the other hand, Carbonara here was less creamy and cheesy. Therefore, we were not used to it and added some salt and pepper for seasoning.

    Overall dinner here cost €25.50, which was affordable relatively.

    2) Gelato

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    Despite the chilling weather at night, we still expressed our profound affinity toward Gelato. Thus, we grabbed this Gelato from a nearby shop - Maison Soulier that operates till late evening near to City Hall. They were about to close during our visit and luckily the crew still willing to serve us.

    Had Cassis (blackcurrant) and Violette - a flavour which never existed in our country. Amazing taste! Cost for 2 scoops was €4.

    3) Our Own Breakfast

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    We prepared our own breakfast by getting some supplies from seemingly the only one store - Ulite. It closes sharp at the time and we were almost being chased out from the store. Everything above cost €8.99. A budget breakfast for 2 yeah?

    At the meantime, we also went to a local shop selling crepe and wanted to take it as a snack, only to have the owner rejecting us saying we must dine in for a full-course meal and they do not serve crepe solely. We reckon this must the French way of dining?

    Our Accommodation

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    FRANCE A Short Stay at Old Town Arles

    We opted to stay in an Airbnb for an one night stay in the old town. It is like some historical room housed in some stone building. One kind of great experience it was, but at the same time it caused some hassle too as no bed sheet was provided, and we have to bring our own bed sheet from hometown, otherwise risked of incurring additional €10 charges! 

    Next, we moved to the beach city - Nice! 

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