Morning in Provençe. The sunlight softly filtered through my window at Le Mas des ponts d’Arles. The previous evening had been a pleasure—wine and good conversation with the other chaperones. After breakfast, we boarded the bus for the city center of Arles.
We explored the ancient Roman sites in Arles: an impressive amphitheater and a colosseum. Both sites are still in use for various performances and exhibitions. The juxtaposition of the Roman influence and architecture with the more modern French styles is strange in some ways, but compelling. I’m drawn to the deep historical knowledge of these places, a knowledge that we don’t really see in the States. Our oldest buildings are practically new in comparison.
We also toured the crypt beneath the Arles city hall, which was originally part of the open-air Roman forum in its time, and later we toured a beautiful cloister, part of a different tapestry of history. These were both quiet places that allowed one the chance to ponder and wander.
Lunch in Arles was the best meal I’ve had in France. Alex, Brian, Emilie, Darren, and I sat outside in the square and enjoyed a bounty of fresh seafood from Du Bar à L’huitre. I enjoyed oysters from three distinct but nearby places. They paired nicely with a local white wine. Easily the best oysters I’ve eaten. I also tried sea snails, which were also delicious. Good food and great company.
Next we rode the bus to Pont du Gard, the tallest Roman aqueduct in the world. It cross the Gardon River and the site is a great spot for all manner of recreation—including eating and drinking. But we were there to swim in the cool waters of the Gardon. We spent about two hours swimming before boarding the bus for Nîmes. It was a great experience and one I will never forget. I’m so happy our kids are making these lifetime memories as well. They had so much fun.
We toured Nîmes on foot and enjoyed a nice meal at an Italian restaurant on the circle across from another Roman colosseum. I enjoyed a beautiful piece of salmon and some local vin rouge. Another meal with great company.
It was our last night in France, which made me a little sad. But I am excited to travel to Spain tomorrow.