Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Provençal excursion

Christine arrived at Gamone a week ago. On Wednesday, we set out in the car for a short excursion to Provence, leaving Sophia in the capable hands of Sylvie in Presles: the girl I mentioned in my article entitled Moshé's future companion [display]. After a delightful drive down along the right bank of the Rhône (on the Ardèche side), we dropped in at Avignon just long enough to discover that they still haven't rebuilt the missing arch in the bridge.

It's a dangerous situation, because it's said that people dance there. Apparently they dance there, all in a circle, and it would be so easy for a dancer to fall into the Rhône. At the top of a stone staircase at one end of the esplanade in the center of the city, we discovered a gigantic elephant doing a remarkable balancing act.

Although it's obvious to me, I'm not sure that many folk are aware of the existence of an elephant in the Palace of Popes.

We stopped for the first night in Arles… or, more precisely, in the right-bank neighborhood of Trinquetaille, where Christine's grandfather Paul Marteau [1896-1976] was born. We had dinner in the middle of the Place du Forum, on the patio of the Café van Gogh.

Of an evening, the yellow façade is lit up in such a way that it looks much like it probably did on a summer evening in 1888, when painted by Vincent van Gogh [1853-1890].

Wherever you go in Arles, you're never too far away from sunlit scenes that evoke the great painter.

On the façade of the Museum of Arles, the wistful image of an Arlésienne in traditional costume, wearing a construction worker's hat, informed us that the place was closed for restoration until 2014.

Nearby, the façades of stately old buildings were in serious need of restoration, but their owners probably don't have the necessary finance to tackle such work.

Admiring the Rhône from the bridge that links Trinquetaille to the main city, Christine was able to understand clearly why her grandfather always evoked the great river as if it were an ancient divinity.

On Paul Marteau's birth certificate, we noticed that the family's address designated a rural zone on the outskirts of Trinquetaille, and mentioned the word for "gardens". We were thrilled to succeed in locating this neighborhood.

Personally, this new contact with Arles confirmed my long-held opinion that it's the most splendid little city I've ever encountered.

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