Just for fun, let’s pretend we are still on our “motor-flight-through France”, even though we all know full well that I’m back in CA, still in my jammies and a ratty sweater with a mountain of tissues in front of me as I nurse this stubborn cold. I know, it takes some imagination, but I know you can do it!
Just a half-hour drive from Avignon is the village of Arles. Knowing a good thing when they saw it, the Romans took it as their own in 123 BC and by the fourth and fifth centuries it had become an important city and a favorite of Emperor Constantine I. He declared Arles his capital in 408 A.D.
In more recent history, Arles is known for its famous resident, Vincent Van Gogh, who painted some of his most important works here toward the end of his life. He came to Arles in 1888 with the intent of starting an art academy there with his then-friend, Paul Gauguin. The two painters had a fiery falling-out, Van Gogh lopped off his ear and things rapidly went from bad to worse. The citizens of Arles actually circulated a petition to induce Van Gogh to be driven from their town.
If you’re interested in learning more about Van Gogh, I found a web site that has catalogued all of his letters at: http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html
Next up: we trace Van Gogh’s footsteps from Arles to Saint-Remy-de-Provence…