The last day of our Colors of Provence river cruise was spent in Arles. This is a really fun town as it’s full of Roman History, Van Gogh art and medieval village streets. Here’s the previous post on Tournon and Avignon.
We opted to go to the Olive farm and Les Baux excursion. We stopped at a small Olive farm and mill called Moulin du Calanquet, Saint-Remy de Provence. We basically toured the modern processing plant and tasted several oils and tapenades. Then they let us loose in the gift shop so we could export some French olive oil via our plane ride home. We learned that about half the oil made on premises is actually from olives brought here by local farmers for their own use. The other half is grown on site and processed for sale. They use an entirely cold press methodology which they claim set them apart from other processors. A really fun and educational experience…tasty too.
Les Baux is a small, medieval town perched on a rock outcropping. The streets are cobblestone and the buildings are made from the same stone as the mountain it is built on. People have called Les Baux home since ancient times, though much of what there is to see is medieval, including an 11th century fortress at the summit. Below are a few pictures of the village, which is really the best way to describe it.
We split up in Arles with Dave opting for the bicycle ride and Sue going for the walking tour. On the bike tour we first drove to the colisieum and walked inside for a view. This is a working areana where the locals hold bull fights, fairs and concerts. next we went to the Roman Ampitheatre, which is also currently used for concerts. We drove to the middle of town (Place de la Republique) where the Roman obelisk from the Circus (horse and charriot racing) sits and is surrounded by 16th century architecture. Next we drove to the new Arts resource building, the Luma Arles – a strikingly modern tall structure designed by Frank Gehry and set to open spring of 2020.
Our next stop was The Alyscamps . This is was the road to Rome lined with tombs and mausoleums as was the custom back then. We then stopped at the Gardens of the Sante a Arles, or the mental hospital that Van Gogh checked into when he cut off his ear. Both the Gardens of the hospital and the Alyscamps were painted by Van Gogh. We made our way through through the streets of Arles and took a winding detour through the medieval La Roquete quarter of Arles. We briefly toured The Musee de L’Arles et de la Provence Antiques (or Roman history museum) at the end of the tour. There’s fantastic display of Roman artifacts including a Gallo-Groman barge, and lots of sculptures and tile works. As the sun was setting, we rode back toward the ship along the Rhone River and passed the spot where Van Gogh painted his famous Starry Night.
The end of the line
Our Colors of Provence river cruise ends in Arles. Starting in Lyon, we’ve seen and experienced so much. This remains one of our favorite river cruise itineraries because it has so many different things:
- Roman History
- Medieval history
- Impressionistic art
- Gastronomic excellence
- The atmosphere of Provence (truffles, lavender, olives, the small towns, the mistral winds and the wine)
A river cruise is a perfect way to experience all these different aspects without having to pack and unpack. AmaWaterways service was excellent as always. Given the fact we were traveling in luxury and had no worries, the value of the river cruise from AmaWaterways becomes apparent.