Arles, France circa 1888: If you were to peek through the window at 2 Place Lamartine about this time, it’s likely you would’ve seen Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh at work in his studio. Van Gogh lived in Arles for about one year, spending part of that time in a building that’s since been called the Yellow House.
Van Gogh, a Post-Impressionist painter, painted hundreds of works in Arles, no doubt inspired by Provence’s abundant and legendary light. Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night, The Yellow House, The Bedroom, and Starry Night Over the Rhone are among van Gogh’s Arles creations.
And the Van Gogh trail isn’t the city of Arles’ only drawcard. This southern French town is also home to an impressive amphitheater, which was built by the Romans around 90 CE. The Romans used the two-tiered structure to hold gladiator fights. Today, it serves as an arena for bullfighting.
Interesting enough, after the fall of the Roman Empire, citizens of Arles took refuge inside the old amphitheater. They built chapels, hundreds of homes, and even a town square inside the old Roman structure. Since 1981, the arena has been designated one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Arles. A Roman theater, baths, and several Romanesque sites are also included on the list.
In this window collage, I’ve captured a window in the arena’s tower (it’s the one in the center right). No windows from Van Gogh’s Yellow House are featured though, as the building was sadly hit by bombs during World War II and eventually demolished.
I especially like the trompe-l’œil likeness of a window in this collage’s center. The kitten, flowerpots, and birdcage add a bit of whimsy to the scene, don’t you think?
Have you explored Southern France — if so, what were some of your highlights?
Where in the World?
- Arles is located in France’s Provence region, about 90 km (55 miles) northwest of Marseille.
- The city is set to open a new art center, Luma Arles, in 2020. The building is designed by Frank Gehry, the same architect behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. It’ll be interesting to see if the “Bilbao Effect” transforms Arles, too.
- Arles also has the Fondation Vincent van Gogh, which features a few van Gogh paintings each year. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit this gallery, but I’ve read that it’s a worthwhile spot to while away a few hours.
- See the Arles Office of Tourism site for more tips.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.