Day 12: Roman Ruins, Van Gogh, and Body Positivity in Arles

Oh, Arles. I spent today exploring Roman ruins and Van Gogh sites. And I fell more in love with Arles by the second.

Each turn took me down another perfectly charming alley or street. Every site was beyond what I imagined it might be.

I love it here.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED TODAY:

Locals here like to chat and make small talk, as do I. Sadly, very few folks speak any English. People here are quite surprised by how poor my French is.

It’s rather nice, to be honest. It feels real, for lack of a better word. If my French ever improves I imagine I’d enjoy visiting Arles even more, if such a thing were possible.

Also, the Rhône River, here, anyway, is the blue of the Mediterranean. It might be silly that I didn’t expect that, but there you go. The vibrancy is almost as shocking as Oregon’s Crater Lake! And equally impossible to capture in a photograph, but I did my best.

Finally, among the more surprising things I’ve learned about Arles is not very subtle body positivity.

Everywhere you look, in storefronts, restaurants, wherever, there is art of all kinds depicting nude women. All women. All ages, shapes, grooming preferences. And every last one of them is beautiful.

A woman looks around almost any establishment and sees naked women they can identify with. And these women appear confident in their beauty and lacking the inappropriate shame so many of us have about our naked bodies.

One might expect this of Europe in a general sense, but Arles is the first place in which I’ve experienced it.

It’s a beautiful, powerful environment to feel immersed in, and one more thing causing me to be completely in love with this town.

One last quick amusing-to-me thing before I head off to bed:

Both the other day while on the lookout point of the medieval fortress in Domme, which was at the very edge of a sheer 1,000 foot drop, and today while climbing to the highest point in a Roman amphitheatre, I had the same thought:

“Is this safe? Does this feel rickety? Should I be doing this?”

Those were first thoughts. With the second thoughts came the laughter.

“Sooooo, ummmm, yeah. These things have each been in place for over 600 and 2,000 years, respectively, with zero structural issues while gazillions of people have walked on them. I have a hunch I’m good here.”

And that, folks, is all for today. Tomorrow, Nice!

Series Navigation<< Day 12: Gender Normative Behavior in ArlesDay 13: Catcalls and a Lost Reservation in Nice >>

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