First Cruise Stop after Avignon
We were onboard a Viking River Cruise ("Avignon & Provence") and
Arles was the first stop after Avignon. The ship moved from Avignon, south to Tarascon at 5AM (approximately 30 kilometers), so that
the day's tour to Arles could begin from there. The tour to Arles was via tour bus, so moving
the ship closer made the bus route shorter.
The town of Arles is a community situated in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south eastern area of France. It is a coastal community and a tourist destination, a popular seaside resort. Arles was established by the Ligurian populations during the times of the Ancient Rome and it used to serve as an important port and commercial hub. It is possible to see the remains of the old buildings preserved since the Roman times, like the old Amphitheater, aqueduct, and others.
Click here to go to the Arles Wikipedia page.
The Arles Amphitheatre was our first exploration stop. This two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city. The pronounced towers jutting out from the top are medieval add-ons.
Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d'Arles as well as plays and concerts during the summer.
This is the Arles Hospital (now known as "L'espace Van Gogh" and no longer a hospital) where Vincent van Gogh stayed in December 1888 & January 1889 (after he mutilated his ear). Van Gogh made several paintings of the hospital and grounds, and as you can see, the grounds are still very pretty.
Vincent Van Gogh moved to Arles from Paris in 1888. He produced quite a few paintings while here, however, his increasing mental illness caused the local government to have him hospitalized at least once.
Van Gogh's time in Arles became one of his more prolific periods: he completed 200 paintings, and more than 100 drawings and watercolours.
Arles City Hall
The 50 foot obelisk in front of the building, was first erected under the Roman emperor Constantine II in the center of the spina of the Roman circus of Arles. After the circus was abandoned in the 6th century, the obelisk fell down and was broken in two parts. It was rediscovered in the 14th century and re-erected on top of a pedestal soon surmounted by a bronze globe and sun on March 26, 1676.
Back to the Viking Heimdal
We had a light snack while hoofing about Arles, because we knew that lunch aboard the ship was going to be another great meal! The tour bus returned us to the ship for lunch, and we decided to not take the optional afternoon tour to St. Remy and instead hung out and worked on further jet-lag removal (AKA "nap").
- The Viking Lyon & Provence Cruise Overview & Guide Our Viking River Cruise from Marseilles to Lyon, north on the Rhône River with various ports of call, click here to read more.
- Avignon, France The first stop as we head up the Rhône River, click here to read more.
- Arles, France The town of Arles is a community situated in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south eastern area of France. click here to read more.
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France While docked in Avignon, Viking organized an afternoon tour to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, known in France as one of the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regions. click here to read more.
- Tournon-sur-Rhône, France The Viking Heimdal cast off at 4AM to continue north on the River Rhône, to Tournon - set to arrive at 1PM. This was the longest leg of the cruise, it is approximately 150 kilometers from Avignon to Tournon. click here to read more.
- Vienne, France Vienne is a commune in southeastern France, located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Lyon, on the river Rhône. It is only the fourth largest city in the Isère department, of which it is a sub-prefecture, but was a major center of the Roman Empire. click here to read more.
- Lyon, France The ship arrives in Lyon at 3PM, and we initially tied up at the Quai Claude Bernard - the eastern side of the Rhône River. This is a very scenic location, adjacent to the Université Lumière Lyon and only 2.2 kilometers from the Place des Terreaux. click here to read more.
- Perouges, France The optional free bus tour to Perouges departs at 2PM today, and we drive through some really beautiful countryside on the way there. The La Dombes district is where fish are raised in a series of 1,200 ponds. Click here to read more.
- Our Thoughts on Viking River Cruises Our perspective on Viking River Cruises, plus a few pros & cons to consider. Click here to read more.
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