Monday, June 17, 2013

The Renaissance of the Roquette, Arles




It is funny how we slide into habits, isn't it? Those little details that slowly vanish into nothingness or strengthen with ease day after day. The things that we have to choose or those we forget, sleepwalking style.

And so it was that I realized this morning, with a hiccup of surprise, that I hadn't really roamed the Roquette neighborhood of Arles in...months. Now, for those of you that haven't yet visited this small town perhaps you don't realize how limited a space it is, easily traversable by feet in fifteen minutes or so.  I wondered at my lack of wandering as I strolled with my furry companions and just then Kipling barked loudly, randomly as he is want to do. "That is why," I nodded. For he is a bit of a handful, this creature and I have been keeping him to the quay in the mornings for several reasons but it was time to stop being so safe, so we took a left loop on the way home, threading the narrow streets of the Roquette.

It is one of Arles' oldest neighborhoods and nearly every architectural style is present. When I first visited in 2003, it's nefarious reputation was still intact, an area of drug deals and stray cats, where Roma families would pull their sofas and televisions into the streets to take in the night air. Like so many inexpensive urban areas, it has gentrified mightily over the years. Les bobos, aka the bourgeois bohéme, have come and gone and it seems as though the area has become the Park Slope of Arles, family-filled.

I turned on to the Rue Croix Rouge after having done a quick cat-scan for Kipling and was immediately smacked by the perfume of jasmine, one was so strong it seemed as though my skin was sucking it in. And there were flowers...everywhere. I zig-zagged back with the boys, picking up the pace as the heat began to climb. Upon delivering them to the shade of the apartment, I grabbed my camera and headed back to capture and continue to explore.

I was so delighted by what I found. While I appreciated the gorgeous renovations of many of the homes, this wasn't about money but pride. For so many of even the most modest homes had some small touch of greenery from a lone cactus on the windowsill to outdoor gardens beyond the front door.

Walking slowly, I took in the quiet, this despite it being late Saturday morning, the market day. Kids playing ball stopped to let an elderly Algerian man pass. Moms gossiped in doorways looking on. The energy was good. No place is perfect. Certain streets still exude a rough around the edges air and friends living in the Roquette say that there can be a frustrating pressure to be neighborhoody, that folks are constantly showing up for the apero uninvited and if you don't participate in the big get-togethers you are labelled a snob. But I liked it.

This morning I did the same loop with the boys and while the impression was not as heady, save for the jasmine, it was still positive. I am planning to do a little mini-series this week to share with you more on this area of Arles, one where the tourists seldom tread...





















Have a truly wonderful week everyone...


56 comments:

  1. Stunning! Bought the most recent 'Cote Sud' and have Arles high on the agenda...hoping to schedule a visit in the next week or so. Shame those jasmine photos aren't in smellovision! Rx

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    1. Romy, I had to check on your blog because I thought "Gee, Arles is great and all but quite a haul from Hobart!" :) Yes, I was planning on mentioning the Cote Sud article in my next post--really, all of the locals are super happy with it because it lists the addresses that we all adore--the good stuff.
      One thing that is going on right now that is exceptional in Arles is the Rodin exhibition at the Antiquities museum--amazing. And don't forget that we have the biggest market in Provence on Saturday mornings...

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    2. No kidding Arles is a hike from Hobart yet close to Uzes! Loved the Cote Sud article on Uzes so had high hopes for using it as a tour guide to Arles.....glad to hear that it is in fact reliable! Would love to see the Rodin exhibition....mercifully my children have been well and truly conditioned to museums...or we could always go on a schoolday! Rx

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    3. Actually the museum is very kid-friendly (you'll see :) so is the Cuisine de Comptoir that I wrote about last week--yummy tartines!
      One address that I have always wanted to try near you is:
      http://www.lhuitreetlavigne.com/index.php/en/
      I can't remember if that was in the Cote Sud on Uzes or not but it looks amaaaazing.

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  2. Wow - you're right - all the greenery is really striking! Love the enormous potted plants and ALL the flowers! I look forward to the rest of the mini series, seeing new parts of Arles through my sister's eyes! (wish I was there to see it through my own eyes - waa-waa). I wonder if the citizens of Arles know you as "that redheaded American with the camera"? : ) You have a wonderful week, too!

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    1. Heehee--if they know me at all it is definitely as the "Lady with Two Goldens"!!! Otherwise I think I am pretty under the radar. I am glad you liked the flowers Sister and wish you were here to share them in person too...waawaaa...

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    2. You are PRETTY under the radar, alright! More like BEAUTIFUL! : )

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  3. Your pictures are sublime as always Heather. I love that you don't give us the standard expected photos of the region...PS I think that black cab must have taken a wrong turn of Hyde Park Corner ;) xx

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    1. What's up with that cab, N? I want it! Even if I don't know how to drive. :)

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  4. It looks charming and rustic. I am sure it would be wonderful to spend a month there, communing with the muses.

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    1. Oooh, the muses. They can be dangerous...just look what they did to Van Gogh...

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  5. Dear Heather, Your photographs always tell a lovely story. Looking forward to the next installment. With your beautiful photographs, you have single handedly introduced your Arles to the world. Are you ready for the many visitors who are sure to come to see for themselves? ox, Gina

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    1. Oh Gina, you are far too kind! But if more visitors head this way, all the better! They will see that all they have to do is point and shoot to make fine photos. :)

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  6. It was like being with you, this post of yours. What a wonderful Saturday morning stroll we took. Look forward to the new sites you'll be taking us to in the mini-series.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jackie--it certainly isn't anywhere nearly as dramatic as your destinations!

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  7. The writing and description at the beginning of this post also made me feel as though I was walking with you. I almost felt I didn't even need the photographs — until I saw them. And then you said you would be doing more posts on this neighborhood. Like a good serial novel, I'm on pins and needles waiting for Part II.

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    1. See you on Wednesday and I hope it doesn't disappoint!! As always, thank you for your kindness, Judith.

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  8. Beautiful pictures thanks for taking us along.
    Devon

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    1. Merci Devon--love your happy profile photo!

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  9. Heather, I so glad you brought us along with you in your wandering (we are quieter than Kipling). I can smell the jasmine and hear the children play in this beautiful corner of the world! Thanks so much for your sweet comment, it was a lovely start to my day! XOXO

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    1. It came from the heart, Jeanne--you have been missed more than you know. And soon you will discover all of this in person! Yaaaaayyy!

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  10. Delightful! I'm looking forward to more.

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  11. Heather: I discovered your blog just last week and am so happy to have found this new resource about, Arles, is my favorite town in SFrance. I have been able to visit 5 time and never tire of it. I LOVE walking over to Roquette. It's so undiscovered by tourists and such a trip to another country. I have a spot I always get a slice of pizza and once chanced upon a fantastic concert in an old church with a famous organ. Your photos bring it all to mind and heart, as do your other posts I have enjoyed. Thank you! And, I, unfortunately, have only ONE Golden.

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    1. Ahhh!!! Another Golden lover! :) They are the BEST dogs aren't they. And wow, you have been to Arles five times already? That is wonderful. I especially love that you explore off the beaten path--those are always when the best moments happen.
      Is your pizza spot Le Petite Naples? That is supposedly the best in Arles...
      Happy to have you here, Palma!

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  12. Bliss, happy memories that so influence my entry way, front path plantings...a bit of Arles, some beautifully dried date palm fronds from Oasis of Tozeur, Tunisia, a pot from Madagascar with Traveler's Palm design on it, an unusual brown w gold flowers pot from....how did I forget, blue bird bath ceramic bowl from Morocco, and on and on. After decades of living overseas, a bit chipped in some cases, we've ended up here: delighted to see how much better we look with company of each other, holding our own with a new orchid plant. Thank you for bringing me back.

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    1. Dear Joan you have had one amazing life. Have you ever thought of writing a memoir?

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  13. Our Rémy is a cat "lover" too:-) e can take me down if I'm not prepared when he sees one! Arles is at the top of our list for a visit when we begin to start visiting more far flung places in this beautiful adopted country of ours. Beautiful photographs, and beautiful words, Heather. Thank you.

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    1. Puppyfur, ALL of Provence is so beautiful. I truly hope that you get to see it in person--autumn is such a wonderful season too--it is far less crowded and the light is so beautiful.
      Thanks for your support, as always and scratchies to Remy--that rascal!

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  14. It is charming and parts of it remind me of forgotten corners in some of our villages where tourists never tread. Those are the best places to be.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more, Loree. :)

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  15. Heather I have to disagree with you on this area looking like Park Slope...nope, Park Slope never looked that pretty. I love the doors and the ancient look to the buildings, Park Slope is almost to perfect these days. Love how people put out a potted plant to give themselves some green. Living in so much green I forget people in cities need it too. Thank you for taking us along on your walk just wish I could have smelled it too.

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. I am in desperate need for green, Debra!!! It soothes the eyes and the heart, I think. In our current apartment, we don't have enough good light to have plants and so our poor potted lemon is outside in the hallway!

      And I agree about the Slope being a touch too perfect now. What a difference!

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  16. oh this is quite splendiferous: a glimpse into the character-filled streets of the everyday....nothing too precious...just life as it happens on a summer's day....and is that a mended patch on the towel???

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    1. Isn't that fantastic?! I loved it!

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    2. Ps. That is why I wanted to go back with my camera, to take that one photo!

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  17. I'm glad you decided to revisit this area, and better yet, that you took such lovely pictures to share with us. I love all the greenery, the flowers, the sense of quiet pride and hope. Just beautiful.

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    1. Isn't it Susan? It really was the "quiet pride" that I found especially moving. Often the more humble houses had the most exuberant displays of greenery.

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  18. Heather - hello! Stumbled across your blog via Romy and Naomi! Your photographs are really beautiful - intimate and show a lovely eye! We were in France just a month ago - when it was in the grip of that cold front! Added you to my blog roll! xx

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    1. Oh thanks so much Jenny, that is very kind of you! But oh my, I am so sorry to hear that you were in France for what was the WORST spring in 100 years. I guess you'll just have to come back...

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  19. Lovely post - as always! AHH - need to get to Provence!

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    1. And have cocktails with a certain redhead!

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  20. I love all your posts and photographs. I have learned through your posts and pictures to look up and down so I don't miss things that are not at eye level. Thanks for sharing your writing and pictures. Have a great day.

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    1. Oh that makes me so happy to hear, Michel! I learn so much from you all the time, so if I can inspire you in any way--tant mieux! I learned to look up when living in Manhattan all those years...
      Have a great day too!

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  21. climbing roses and door heaven-ly-ness!!!

    lovely.

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    1. Wait until you see the pupper in my current post--you will loooove him.

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  22. Absolutely gorgeous. This looks like the place to be for the summer; long days spent enjoying these sights and scents of jasmine. Really, just lovely.

    And I got a chuckle out of the "Park Slope" of Arles. ; )

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    1. Heehee. MommyCentral. The last time I was there a few years back, I was heading into Manhattan and was wearing these awesome pair of Miu Miu cuissardes and the looks of hatred that I got from behind those fancy strollers was intense!!

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  23. I have only just found your blog - I'm SO happy! It's absolutely wonderful! I am wanting to move to France (from Canada) and your photos are so inspiring. Thank you!

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    1. I don't know Jo-Anne, I am a big fan of Canada myself! I am! It is a GIANT step to move overseas. I did it for love (a pretty good reason :) but if you do decide to make the leap, I would definitely suggest trying to learn some of the language before you do. Having to learn French on the fly really was hard and made my transition here far rockier than it should have been.

      Ps. I don't know why your comment got lost in the system until today. But thank you so much for your kind words and welcome!!!

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  24. You have such an amazing eye Heather. If I had seen that man with the little girl, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but you captured it and now it could be a postcard. How wonderful to have such a talent! xx

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    1. Oh thanks Sara, that means a lot! And I am still too chicken to take photos of peoples FACES but am getting there!!
      Bisous et Bon Weekend...

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  25. Hi Heather - I found your posting while searching for a place to stay during the Photography Festival this summer. My husband and I decided to forget about B&Bs and hotels (Kyriad.....noooo) and found a place to rent in the Roquette neighborhood. I was glad to read your comments and see your lovely photos. Seems like a pleasant area and near the festival too. Thanks for the info! :-)

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    1. That is great to hear! I think that you will be really happy there. It is just a few minutes away from the city center and yet you will be right in the midst of it for La Nuit de la Roquette! http://nuitdelaroquette.tntb.net/
      There are a few good hotel addresses in Arles but during the Rencontres a B&B is definitely the way to go! Now just follow one more bit of a local's advice - don't eat on the Place du Forum (unless at Chez Caro) and you are all set. :)

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