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Travel Gem: Arles, France

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Provence is a province in southeastern France, nestled between Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. It is known for its fascinating history, diverse landscapes, UNESCO towns, the vast fields of lavender that bloom in June/early July, and cheerful sunflowers that bloom throughout the summer. We became immersed in Van Gogh's history and visited many sites where he lived, painted, was hospitalized, and died.

There were several small towns and cities that we wanted to visit in Provence. There are intercity busses and trains linking most. Tours can be arranged to less-serviced areas from any of the tourist information centers. Adding up the costs, and considering our desire to slow down and spend more time in a place rather than travelling to a place, it made sense to center ourselves in Arles.

We would make day trips in the little hybrid Fiat 500 we rented in Lyon from Europcar. To keep costs down, I was the only registered driver (I drive stick) and ATB#1 was in charge of navigation. The little Fiat was plenty big enough for the two of us, (5'1" and 5'4") with room for our luggage. We had one full-sized suitcase in the backseat but the trunk would have accommodated two North America carry-ons. It had CarPlay and we quickly linked to the screen to display navigation. The Fiat handled well and after almost a week, we were delighted that we only needed to fill the tank once, and added a 1/4 tank before returning the car in Carcassonne. Driving the autoroute and country roads was easy and we encountered little difficulty navigating around.

Arles Arles is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we rented an apartment above L'Atelier Galerie where our hostess, Marie Christine Vargas, creates and sells her art. (Yes, we both came home with pieces)