Starry Night at Arles, France

After Croatia, we headed to southern France just in time for lavender fields! Our flight was at 1:05 PM connecting at Munich (delayed again so our original 1.5 hours connection time was barely enough) and we landed in Marseille at 6 pm instead of 5:15 pm! My husband asked me what time do you expect to arrive at the hotel? Honestly, I thought we could make it to the hotel at 7 pm but after our first flight delay since we got to Croatia, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about it so I figured will be lucky if we get to the hotel by 8 pm. As soon as we picked up our luggage, we were searching for restroom and oh my the restroom is downstairs! We walked out of Marseille airport, we crossed the street and all the rental companies are there. I booked the car months in advanced through Auto Europe because we need an automatic transmission car; hubby doesn’t know how to drive a manual, and I heard they are limited supply. Of course which means we are paying a higher premium for the car! I contacted Auto Europe days before our trip to reconfirm and they assured me that it’s guaranteed. Auto Europe is a 3rd party agent, the rental company was Europcar. We waited in line for at least 10 minutes; the couple in front of us had way to many questions to ask; they definitely didn’t do any research for the trip! The agent barely speaks English, yikes! We got the key and the parking number so we could locate the car, it was a huge parking lot. We found our car and closely examine for damages first before we took off. The car was compact which we glad we did because the roads and parking spaces in Europe are very narrow and tight! And an additional bonus, the car has GPS!!! We were prepared for the road trip – we bought a Nokia phone which I read its HERE map is great that you can download the map before the trip…it works completely without the need to connect to the internet!!! Hubby has T-Mobile so it has free international data but I wasn’t sure how reliable the network is especially in Luberon villages so offline map would be the best. Since the car came with GPS, we didn’t need to use the phone for the GPS but we did tried it out few times when we only have the name of the place and not the exact address and number and it worked great!

The drive to Arles supposed to be less than an hour BUT I wasn’t use to the car GPS layout in kilometers instead of miles that we took the wrong ramp!! Then, the car GPS alerted us of an accident so we chose to detour and went all the way back to the start – the airport LOL! The 2nd round, we saw another car accident that just happened, we were thinking are French drivers that bad that there are accidents everywhere? This time around, we finally made it to the right highway. I also looked up at Via Michelin before the trip to calculate the toll charges to prepare how much cash I will at least need (I’ll show pictures and explain in details on the next report). The toll charge from Marseille to Arles was 4.40 euros. We got to Arles alright but finding our hotel was totally a nightmare!!! I booked Logis De La Muette, a highly rated hotel inside the old city; I was thinking it would be nice to stay close and be able to walk to its main attractions like the Roman amphitheater……I was so WRONG! The GPS pointed us to blocked roads!!! The roads inside the old city were narrow and mostly one-ways! Even worst, some of the roads on the map are limited access, which means you’ll need a code to get in! I looked up Google Maps before the trip and did not even know there are “limited access roads”! We were going around circles and no way to get into or even near the street of our hotel! After 1 HOUR, yes it was a full one hour going around circles, I finally said stop at that small parking lot, I’ll walk to the hotel, and if other cars need to pass him, he could just circle within that parking lot! I got off the car and I had no clue where I was, I saw two guys passing by and ask for directions. One of the guy speaks good English but he said he doesn’t live there but he stopped a bicyclist who is a local and only speak French. They were talking in French and then he even walked me to the hotel so nice of him!!! The hotel is just up two streets! I went into the hotel and there’s an old guy at the reception, I explained to him about our situation. He took out a detailed map of the old city and I pointed to him where our car is. He said we need the code to get in, I knew of this code from email but wasn’t sure where to enter that…I thought it’s for their private parking lot…not to enter a street! I walked back to the parking lot where hubby and the car were and pointed him the way, we got to the entrance of the limited access road and punch in the code BUT it didn’t work!!! Oh my, at that point we decided to just find somewhere to park and walk in! We drove back to that little parking lot and very lucky there was a space!!!! We parked there and lug our luggage to the hotel. I asked the old guy in reception if it’s okay for us to park there, he said yes but we need to move the car by 9 am the next morning. That was find because we’ll check out by that time anyways! Phew…we got settled in and it was already 9 PM so we walked out for dinner!!!

The entrance of our hotel, it was already late at night!

Our room was room number 2, right next to the reception, it was clean and comfortable although limited space that barely fit our two luggage!

There was a “sofa bed” that could fit another person…

At least the restroom is good in size!

We walked to Le Criquet (21 rue Porte de Laure) and they were completely booked!!! I thought I wouldn’t need a reservation because it’s a Wednesday! Plan failed so we walked back to the square where we saw few restaurants while circling in our car!! We saw a few people seated outside at a restaurant so it couldn’t be bad right? We were seated and there was no English menu!!! The waiter and waitress who are old do not speak any English! The restaurant name is Le Voltaire and they have a set menu for 20 euros. With my limited French (I took French back in middle school LOL should’ve brush up my French before the trip), I was able to figure out some on the menu….

I ordered the soup and ordered hubby a salad. The soup definitely tasted like home-made soup, it was pretty good!

I ordered hubby a steak as the main course and some kind of curry for myself. Hubby’s steak was okay as we would expected:

My curry turned out to be fish curry but it was not bad, I was a little bit surprised that southern France cuisine use curry!

Dessert was another challenge because there wasn’t a menu that I can point my finger to LOL. I barely heard what she said but I picked up blah blah creme and chocolate mousse so I repeated those two! Dessert was nice!

The 40 euros dinner wasn’t bad really! After dinner, we walked back to our car to park it better; hubby thought the back was sticking out a little hehe. We walked back to the hotel to get our tripod for night photos of the amphitheater. For those who doesn’t know about Arles, it was where Van Gogh painted over 300 paintings there including the Starry Night!

The night at Arles was very peaceful and quiet! I love the charm of old towns/cities……except that they are hard to drive into but other than that, it was magical!

Just a little bit left of the “blue hour”, the Roman amphitheater is so beautiful at night!

The cafe facing the amphitheater was still open at that time:

Photo of us two by our best travel pal – the tripod:

More photos of the almost emptied street……was it because it was a Wednesday night so not much people?

Our starry starry night at Arles:

Absolutely love the old feeling of it!

We walked only half way of the circumference of the amphitheater and decided to head back to the hotel as it was getting late!

The hotel reception only a desk:

There are tables where we’ll be having breakfast:

Good night Arles, too bad we wasted so much time getting there! We will treasure our time in the morning to see as much as we could before leaving.

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