Arles and Les Marquises in the Chamargue
Saturday, July 13. Arles & Les Marquises in the Camargue.
This morning we traveled by coach through Provence to the Rhône Delta and a private farm owned by the Marquises, renowned for raising prized bulls for arena fighting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camargue_cattle This next clip is a home video marketing attempt by the Marquises themselves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_QaRZ-Ni-A As we were taken by wagons through fields of marshland, it became clear that this area is the effluent into the Mediterranean of the Rhône. The Marquises have for generations raised black bulls and indigenous horses which are born with coats of various shades of brown and mature into a white coat. We then were taken to a small arena where we saw the behavior of a feral bull agitated by prodding into the ring, then led back into the chute by another more docile bull wearing a bell. We learned that bull fighting in France doesn’t end with killing the bull. Instead, the contest for the bull fighter is to pick colored ribbons from the bull’s horns without becoming a bull-ornament.
This was followed by lunch in a large hall decorated with saddles from around the world where we were serenaded by local musicians while we enjoyed a buffet lunch. Amy bought a blouse typical of those worn by the ranchers.
The cloudless afternoon had grown quite hot. Rather than returning to the air conditioned ship, we opted to take a guided tour of Arles https://arlesfrance.ca/attractions/index.html . The first attraction visited was the Amphitheater. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arles_Amphitheatre , inspired the the Roman Colosseum but built about 20 years later in about 90 AD. It was impressively well preserved and hot. Next to this was the theater which is under restorative construction. Our next stop was St. Trohime Cathedral, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_St._Trophime,_Arles built in the late 11th, early 12th Century when Arles, a city of 15 to 20 thousand people was the second largest city in Provence.
Van Gogh moved to Arles from Paris in 1888 where he became both very prolific and mentally ill. https://www.vangoghroute.com/france/arles/ This site gives a nice summary of places and pictures with which the artist is associated. We have visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and learned that only one of Van Gogh’s original paintings is housed there in Amsterdam.
It was a relief to finally return to the air conditioned Emerald and freshen up for supper as we set sail for Avignon, docking there this evening, close to the Pont d’Avignon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pont_Saint-Bénézet Many of our group enjoyed the ferris wheel near to the ship.