Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arles

Another city I really enjoyed visiting was Arles. Wikipedia says Arles was founded by the Greeks in 6th century BC. (BC people!!) The Romans took over in 123BC and their long reign left many marks on the city, including many of the sights we went to see: the theater, the arena, Alyscamps (necropolis), the Cryptoporticum and the thermal baths.
It was really interesting to see how the Romans warmed their thermal baths, using a hypocaust system of heating. They would build them upon these brick columns (seen in the picture) and then a fire was lit underneath which would in turn heat the water above.

And it's mind-boggling to me to think about how these structures have survived for so many centuries. Though it was interesting to see how many of them took on different uses during the years. For example at one point in the 5th century, a small city of about 200 houses was built inside the Arena, turning it essentially into a fortress. The houses stayed there until 1825 (!!), when they made the decision to make it a national monument. Another example was the theater, which housed some homes, a Jesuit school and later a convent, starting around the 8th century up until the early 1800's. Luckily for us, for the most part people built around these monuments instead of destroying them.

It was a great city to visit though, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the traces the Romans left on France. The city offers several special grouped entrance passes as well - I believe it cost 9€ (and maybe 7€ for students??) to visit all of the above things, plus we also had access to a museum or two. There's definitely enough to see to make it a good weekend trip. And September was the perfect time to go - for almost the entire week, we had pretty much every place we visited to ourselves. It all would've been much less enjoyable had we been crowded into everything with throngs of tourists.

Lastly, I have to give a special shout-out to B, who I promised I would mention here if he got me to the Toulouse train station on time for my train. He sped like crazy all the way from Montpellier and we even made it with a few minutes to spare, despite the holiday traffic. Go speedracer!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Megan said...

I loved Arles! Great city. Glad you had a good time.

September 17, 2009 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

It's a wonderful place to visit. Glad you had a good time. I love roman ruins, especially when you can climb on them!

September 18, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Dedene said...

That is one city that I've always wanted to visit. Now I am even more determined to get there.
Glad you had a good time!

September 18, 2009 at 11:38 AM  

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