Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Different Kind of Color
miles of walking
I arrived in Arles around noon on Friday, March 25, 2016
Discovery 1:
Composter le billet  
(punch your ticket after you buy it)
(unbeknownst to me, and if a real ticket agent is actually on the train and asks for yours when enroute, there is a heavy fine.....(luckily they didn't)
Taxis do not wait at the stations of small towns
No matter how bad, speak in your gringo french and everyone becomes your friend 
(i.e. the train employee called me a taxi)
Think twice about staying too far outside any small town (Arles is small)
If you do decide to stay outside the town, Mas de la Chapelle
make friends with the manager Laurent, who has a car.......and a phone
Mas de la Chapelle

Van Gogh's bedroom in Arles, not mine

Laurent showed me my room (cabin), and 10 minutes later drove me through the countryside, along the Rhone into Arles, pointed out spots along the way where Vincent Van Gogh had painted.

Famously known for his painting "Starry Night", "Sunflowers", "Irises" and many more and for chopping off part of his ear, Van Gogh only lived in Arles for 15 months (February 1888 to May 1889) but he was prolific.

After he cut off part of his ear in Arles, he was admitted to the Arles Hospital in Provence, where he painted the beautiful gardens, that are still open to the public at Espace Van Gogh
Orchard in Blossom April 1888  Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Café la Nuit
Filled with tourists
Café Terrace at Night 1888 Vincent van Gogh Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands

Discovery 6:
Incredibly there are none of van Gogh's paintings to be seen in Arles.  Except for one painting per year that is on loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to the Fondation Vincent van Gogh
I didn't see it
But you can traipse around in his footsteps

Place de la Republique
I spent the afternoon exploring all things Roman, the Thermes de Constantin, Les Arènes d'Arles, Le Théâtre Antique d'Arles

Les Arènes
Les Arènes, 1888 Vincent van Gogh, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Arles, a Unesco World Heritage site,  
was annexed by Julius Caesar in the 1st century AD.  
He made it the capital of Roman Provence 
and for four centuries the town prospered as a major trading center.  
It was during this time that these places were built, and still stand today.  
When the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century, Arles declined as well.

Guardian at the Musée Réattu
 I spent a lot of time at the Musée Réattu
 The Musée is a must, a wonderful melange of historic and contemporary art and photography. 
There are collections donated by Picasso, Christian Lacroix, and the photographs of Lucien Clergue
Jean Cocteau Croise l'homme Cheval, by Lucien Clergue  1959  
In the 1960s, Clergue convinced Jean-Maurice Rouquette, the curator of the Musée Réattu, to start a photography department—the first of its kind in France, 
and he began Les Rencontres d’Arles,
an annual summer photography festival founded in 1970. 
(a favorite photographer of mine, who I met in 1976 at his opening at the Marlborough Gallery in New York)
(If anyone knows who took this photo of Brassai, please let me know, I can't find it in my notes!) 
 (chanteur extraordinaire and bull terrier owner, click on his name to hear some of his music)
Christian Lacroix
Hungry and tired I spotted the Hôtel Jules César 
 I parked myself in the Christian Lacroix designed and wonderfully empty lobby, 
had some octopus tapas and a glass of rosé, checked email, rested my feet 
asked my new friend the hotel bartender to call me a taxi 

Discovery 7:
5 star hotels are not just for the rich, as long as you don't sleep in them

Bright and early on Saturday, Laurent drove me back to the outskirts of Arles.  
He had mentioned how lucky I was to be there that weekend for the Feria D'Arles, the annual Easter event that opens the bullfighting season in France. 
 I finished up meandering around the other side of town, had a coffee at L’Ouvre Boîte
and went to find the bulls
L’Ouvre Boîte

The town was closed off to cars for the encierro,click here for a glimpse....running of the bulls, the parades, the pop-up bodegas and all the festivities.  
Caffeinated, I watched a lot of lunatic Arlesians running with the bulls through the streets. 
Fearless teens, men showing off for their girlfriends, friends and children, and just some ordinary people, ran into the street taunting, touching, chasing, and being chased by the bulls. 
While we spectators, barely protected from the taureaux by metal barriers, 
infected by the energy became emboldened at moments to step beyond the fence to snap pics

 Tauromachie (bullfighting) has a long history in Arles, and offers a unique chance to view local life and experience the historic roman arena in use. 
Picasso and Cocteau were big fans
Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Luis Miguel Dominguín aux arènes, Arles, 1959, by Lucien Clergue
  Arriving at 4 pm, I sat on those ancient seats among the entire citizenry of Arles, and watched

The Course Camarguaise is an athletic and dynamic type of bullfighting where the bulls are not killed. 
The participants "Razeteurs", (about 15 of them) begin training in their early teens against young bulls from the Camargue region.  
Dressed in white, using a glove with a claw-shaped barb called a raset or crochet (hook) they compete to snatch rosettes (cocardes) tied between the bulls’ horns, earning money each time they are successful.
There were seven different bulls, starting with the smallest and ending with the largest and most fierce. 
The bulls are the stars! 
While the bulls changed every 15-20 minutes, the men did not!  
I had never seen anything like it 
my short video 

and a better longer version!
miles: 4.35
2 trains and a taxi to