Saturday, 7/21/12 – Arles
Woke at 8:30am . It is sunny and windy.
My DH has been reading the Rick Steves France e-book. He wants to see the Musee departemental Arles antiques museum. We order a taxi which takes us to the museum. Just when I think all the museums are beginning to look the same, this museum is a wonderful surprise! This museum tells the story of the city of Arles and the Romans who lived here centuries ago. The best part of this museum – wonderful scale models of Roman buildings and bridges (a sort of “day-in-the-life-of-a-Roman” theme), videos on the archeological dig in the Rhone River, and mosaics!
After the museum, we walked to the Arles Saturday Market. Just when I think one Saturday Market pretty much looks like another Saturday Market, I am wrong. This one is larger with more household stuff, and great looking and smelling regional food! It took us more than an hour to walk its length down the main street of the city.
Since we were in the same location, we decided to step into the Tourist office to see if we could book any guided tours of the area. As expected, most tours were booked. We settled on a half-day tour of Provence on Monday. We also got maps and trains schedules for a trip into Avignon tomorrow.
By now it was 1pm – we were hungry! The restaurant recommended by Rick Steves was full. No worries, there were plenty of eating options around the Amphiteather. We decided on salads at the Le Grillon. The sun was hot but there was a strong wind that made eating outside a bit of an adventure. Glasses were flying off the table. I got hit on the head with a place mat. The salads were fresh and tasty.
Funny story – Most of the time, my DH and I can figure out the menu with our limited French vocabularies. However, we did not know what “pignons” was. When the waiter arrived, I pointed to the word and asked “Pour Quoi?” as a flapped my hands like a pigeon (I don’t know, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do). The waiter figured it out and laughed a french “Non”. He asked another waiter for the English word and he said “peanuts”. I thought, “Oh, a bacon and peanut salad – I will try that.” In the end, it was not peanuts on my tasty salad but pinenuts. What makes this whole story really funny is that throughout the day, my DH and I would chase pigeons around while saying “Mmmm, dinner!”
We are a fun couple, “Non?”
Earlier in the day, we purchased the Arles Museum pass. You pay full price for one museum and you get into other attractions for free. So in the afternoon, we went to the Theatre Antique (a Roman Theatre) and the Roman Amphitheatre (a mini-coliseum where the bull fights take place). What can one say about Roman ruins? They are massive! These structures of bleached white stone demand your attention. These ruins in Arles are no less demanding than those in Rome. I read in the Rick Steves book that the Roman ruins in France are better preserved than those in Italy. Go figure!
With the strong wind, we forgot that it was also hot. We decided to go somewhere for a cold drink around 5pm. We found the Apostrophe Café – they had a great cocktail menu and cool water misters (little overhead machines that spray a mist of water into the air the customers off — fabulous idea)! They also had fast internet!!! As I nursed my cocktail (an Americano Maison – a bright orange drink made with Campari and served over ice) my DH checked email and surfed the web. We were happy!
Around 8pm, I had a craving for pizza. Based on a Rick Steves recommendation, we located Pizzia des Tremes. We ordered a green salad and a mushroom thin-crust pizza to share. The salad was disappointing – small with very little flavor. The waitress got our pizza order wrong – twice. Once it arrived, it was good (but we would have eaten cardboard by then). However, the waitress made up for her mistake my calling us a taxi to take us back to the hotel on the wrong side of the Rhone.
Quote of the day: “This internet is fast! I think I will stay here tonight instead of going over that bridge.” — DH