Thursday, June 10, 2010

Leaving Paris for Arles

From the Diary;
"Well, where to begin? A day of high tragedy and low comedy! We ordered a taxi yesterday to pick us up from the hotel at 9.00 am to go to Gare de Lyon. We added extra time to be safe, just as well as a call came through - Taxi running late by 30 minutes and we arrived at the station at 10.00 for the 10.20 TGV to Avignon.
So far, so good but the Gods were just having a little joke on us."

On arrival Sue went to information to locate which platform our train would leave from (this was our first TGV experience) - she was informed that it was platform C. We waited but no TGV was there. She ran back in a panic where she was informed that they gave her the wrong information - it was platform E - and, you guessed it - it had left.
What to do - well Sue took command in her normal teacher way and sought out the supervisor and with marvelous efficiency, he issued new tickets for the next TGV to Avignon. You would think that was the end of our concerns, wouldn't you - Nooooooooooo.
We had a lease car to pickup and so phone calls made to reschedule the pickup time - again Sue took over and all was in order.
Our TGV wasn't going anywhere at the appointed time - Why you ask??? The doors of the train wouldn't close and it took a further 45 minutes to rectify this. Now we would be two hours late to pick up the car. Another phone call was made. Our car man Joseph and Sue were forming a relationship. (Little did we realise that we would be meeting Joseph two years later)
We did finally made it to Avignon and the keys to our leased Citroen C3 were handed over by a lovely non-English speaking lady who promptly left, leaving me with this car that had all the controls on the opposite side of what I'm used to in Australia. Stressed, yes you could say that.
But this was a minor situation - next was to fill up the empty tank on the C3.

Knowing we had a diesel engined Citroen, I was concerned that there was no Diesel bowser. I didn't know it was called Gazole. Payment was by credit card - BUT not ours. We paid cash. It was a learning process.
Finally we were on our way to our first night's stay in Provence at the Hotel Regence in Arles. Well sort of!!!

I took the wrong turn and went via Nimes adding an extra 45 kms to the trip.
Back to Sue's Diary
"Finally made it to Arles in full-on peak hour traffic, no idea where to go, circle, circle, circle - no where to park and then, A SIGN pointing to our hotel. We parked directly outside. It felt so good to breathe out after all that time."

After driving past our hotel three times, we finally found it and a parking spot directly opposite.
The hotel was just inside the old city walls which can be seen to the left in this photograph.

With the drama of the day behind us, it was time to explore Arles before dark. To me as a past art student, Arles was intriguing due to it being the place that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent three months painting in and around the village in 1888. Although the house (the Yellow House) where they lived no longer exists, many of the other places they painted still do.

I couldn't find my photos of thid cafe so this was stolen from

We walked past the Cafe that was the subject of one of Vincent's paintings and vowed to return for a glass of wine. Walking further up the cobble stoned narrow roads we stood transfixed by the image in front of us - the Roman amphitheatre survive over 2000 years where concerts and bull fights are held to this day.

Arles has become one of our many favorite French villages - certain parts are so romantic and it's history, the market, cafes and eating places remain vividly in our memory.

We've now visited Arles twice and find no reason why it couldn't be on our next "must visit" list.

After a very tiring day it was time to freshen up for dinner. We decided that we would take our chances and wander the streets on this balmy late summer evening in Provence looking for a place to dine.
For the first time on this day of high drama, we lucked-in with a superb restaurant (we returned 2 years later) in the back streets and dined in the outdoor garden.

Our hotel was across the road from this scene of the Rhone - what a view.

From the Diary
"Wonderful dinner. Seafood with spinach gratin entree, duck Lórange for main and an apricot thingy for desert. Slept the sleep of the righteous."

NEXT: Another day in Arles - driving to the Languedoc and more drama!!!


  1. Leon and Sue, some of my facebook photos were taken in Arles. I have the same street you took, except that I am with my son. I love Arles. We went there twice also. We stayed at a lovely hotel "the calendule" (if I remember right).

  2. It is a charming place, but not so in picture book sense. Just little rough around the edges to be exciting. You've just reminded me of a friend that loves Arles and we haven't been in contact for some time. I should ring and say hello.

  3. Hi Leon - just catching up.

    Your tale of fraught travelling sounds very familiar !! I know very well that sense of panic, not knowing how to work the petrol pumps, not understanding what the instructions mean and "quel horreur" finding that none of our credit cards work.

    Many times we have had to wait at a petrol station in the middle of a seemingly deserted village, for some likely looking local to turn up, so that we could pluck up the courage to ask him if he would kindly help us out by filling up two motorcycles using his French credit card in return for cash. The funny thing is, the person will always make a big pantomime of trying all our cards first, even though we have explained very carefully in our best "Crabtree" that they don't work !! We have never been let down.

    I think the population of rural France see British plates and just know what is going to happen next !! Unfortunately a Harley will only do about 150 miles between fill-ups so we got very good at this.

    Nowadays we have a French credit card (carte bleue)and it makes life so much easier.

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