Into Provence: Arles to Avignon 2017

By | May 16, 2017

We were up early for a start on the next part of our trip; Ubering to Marseilles St Charles and aboard the 8.18am train North West to Arles.  We arrived at the station at Arles and, following some clever research by Lynette, rolled our bags 30 metres from the station to Taco and Co, where we left our bags in safe hands and were fitted out with city bikes and a recommendation for coffee before a ride of just a few minutes along the bank of the Rhone and through a couple of narrow streets to the Place de Forum, which was still quiet before the onslaught of tourist groups.

A coffee at the place next to the cafe made famous by Vincent Van Gogh when he painted it back in 1888 and a look at our maps saw a plan formed and it was off to view the Roman Arena and Theatre before winding our way through the gorgeous little streets and alleys, enjoying the sense of colour and vibrancy.

As we rounded on corner, there, straight ahead, was a neighbourhood boulangerie, with a nice little green nook opposite; perfect for a couple of fresh croissants; (80 Euro cents each) and a breather.  As we watched, lots of locals strolled by with a variety of dogs.  We’ve seen dogs in cafes, shops, on the train and pretty much anywhere.

We decided that we’d take advantage of having the bikes and head out of town a couple of kilometres to find the bridge made famous by Vincent. I figured that the Google maps navigator option sounded like a good idea and got the iPad mini set up in the bike basket to help us find our way.

Despite it being difficult to hear the navigator instructions the directional arrow worked well and we soon found ourselves across the river and riding out along a canal toward the bridge.


Along the way there has been time to reflect on the notion of ‘disruption.’

These days, we talk about the impact of new information and communication technologies on a whole range of practices which seemed embedded through the last decades of the twentieth century only to be massively disrupted by the development of a ubiquitous internet and the evolution from web 1.0 to web 2.0 and then the semantic web moving toward and possibly beyond the internet of things.

Just imagine the investment and sheer hard work of the ‘navvies’ digging and building ‘navigation’ through the construction of the vast systems of canals and locks throughout Europe only to be massive disrupted in the nineteenth century by the rolling out of railways and faster, more efficient ways of transporting the inputs an outputs of the industrial revolution.

Luckily, we arrive at the bridge when there are no tourist groups there and are able to drink in the almost palpable silence and imagine the bridge as Van Gogh painted it, with horse and cart and women going about their business.


Our musings are soon disrupted by the arrival of a tourist coach and a wave of tourists squeezes out of the coach, expelled by expectation; cameras ready: ten minutes of clicking and back on the bus before the coach rumbles off toward the next destination.


We get back on the bikes and roll on back into Arles, seeking out more places of relevance and having an amazing lunch at a recommended restaurant before heading back across the tracks to find the ‘Old Mill’ and the places where ‘Starry Night on the Rhone’ and the ‘Yellow House’ were painted.  We then chill for a while with gelatos and shade before our reunion with our bags and the TGV train which took 18 minutes to reach Avignon; half the time that Google maps tell us that it would take for the same journey by car.

We’re constantly reminded of just how beneficial it would be to have a high speed rail link facilitating the development of the Sydney/Central Coast/Lake Macquarie/Newcastle belt.  One day perhaps.

Our taxi driver at Avignon uses the sensors on the Merc to avoid scraping paint as we head into the old town of Avignon and pull up outside our next AirBnB: a fourteenth century building about fifty metres from the Palais des Papes; where the Popes resided back in the 1300s.  We get ourselves organised, find the local Carrefour supermarket and stock up on essentials before a great dinner at the Vache and Carreaux, a few hundred metres from our crib. Looking forward to exploring the city.

One thought on “Into Provence: Arles to Avignon 2017

  1. Leoni

    Roger, you are such a great story teller. I am really enjoying your blog and feel like I am on the trip with you. I just so love Provence and your story takes me back to when we were there. Cheers Leoni


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