We left Saintes Maries de la Mer and headed inland to Arles, driving a scenic route through the Camargue. The plan had been to stay at Camping Le City in Arles, handily close to the centre, but it was firmly closed when we arrived, despite an opening day of March 1st given in the caravan club guide. It looked a little down at heel and is maybe undergoing a change of ownership…hopefully it will open at some stage.
We moved on to the quayside at Arles where the motorhome parking is helpfully marked and guarded by two stone lions.
A good landmark in Arles is the Roman Amphitheatre which we found easily by walking along the quayside for a short distance then turning left up the Rue de Amphitheatre.
This massive structure was built in about 90 AD and could hold about 20,000 spectators.
A little further on is the Roman theatre. It was built in the first century AD and although much of the stonework has been recycled into other building projects over the centuries, it remains an impressive structure. The two remaining corinthian columns (there were 27) give a flavour of the striking building it must have been in its heyday.
And stopped for coffee on the worryingly named Boulevard des Lices, opposite the Tourist Office.
This is the hospital where Van Gogh spent some time; he was famously admitted here with a severed ear after a dispute with his friend Paul Gauguin outside a brothel.
The courtyard of the hospital building has been transformed into the ‘Espace van Gogh’ with a central garden recreated as it was in the 1880s when he made his famous painting of the garden, whilst he was a patient.
This is Constantin’s bath house, built in the 4th century AD in honour of the Emperor Constantin (the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, he founded New Rome on the Straits of Bosphorus. Renamed Constantinople, it became the centre of the Byzantine Empire and is now Istambul).
We walked back along Le Rhône to Mavis.
We spent the night at Camping Bienheureuse, at Raphele-les-Arles. This was our first campsite since we left the UK 10 days or so ago. We arrived mid afternoon to find the reception closed and the barrier down. Stopping in front of the barrier (we had to) I walked up to the English manager’s bungalow, to be given a good ticking off, through clouds of cigarette smoke, for stopping in front of reception and blocking their road! There was a plumbing problem and no water or drainage; we were advised to drive back to Arles to drain the grey water tank! So, overall, not the best site we’ve found.