Monday, September 16, 2013

A secret courtyard



The exhibition before the exhibition was filling up rather quickly.


 And while I do have a very special attachment to the Chapelle des Trinitaires, as it is where Remi and I had our thunderbolt "we should live here" moment, I felt a little lost amidst the bisous of acquaintances and the getting caught up after summer banter. 



However, I was delighted by an old image of the Antique Theatre, taken at the beginning of the renovation process, so late in the game, time-speaking. How much, nearly all of this grand structure had been pillaged. Stone to stone to be somewhere else, something else entirely after the fall of the Roman Empire and the trumpet's blare arrival of Christianity in Arles. We build up, we tear down, we build again, we move on.

My friend Christine touched my arm and zapped me out of my reverie. We continued along the panels depicting the efforts to support the blue vein of Heritage running through Arles until we stumbled upon a small door opening out of the church...


...and into a courtyard. Remi came to join us, echoing our smiles in his discovery. Somehow, in the very center of town, we had fallen into an unknown place. And yet, apparently not so secret after all as a restaurant that I had dismissed as "for unwitting tourists" had many a table awaiting under the fairy lights. "It is quite decent actually, très correcte," Christine nodded. "We should go one day for lunch." 


I took in this nearly imaginary corner with a gulp. The massive, over-laden pear tree with such beautiful fruit tumbled in the grass, the many layers of centuries shifting the architecture of the chapel with adds and minuses plus one very fortunate terrace overlooking it all with drying sheets flapping through what were once medieval windows. To my left, down a short flight of stairs was a side entry to the Hôtel Dieu, the hospital where Vincent Van Gogh was treated. Did he walk in this secret garden too? 


27 comments:

Farmlife Citylife said...

I always enjoy your thoughtful and evocative descriptions- they do resonate.
I am in the area at the moment and am appreciating them even more
Nicole

I Dream Of said...

Heather, Arles was one of the highlights of our trip to Provence. I haven't written about it yet because with so much to say, there are almost no words. You know? I hope to go back someday, but until then, I'm so grateful that I get to return through these beautiful glimpses that you share.
Happy Monday! XO

Lorrie said...

What a lovely place to find.

I imagine the inhabitants after the fall of the Roman Empire pillaged stones from anywhere to build their farms. That's the way of humans, isn't it? Build, tear down, build again.
The first photo with the dark sky and the golden stone - sensational!

Barbara Lilian said...

I love to read your thoughts on buildings & places. & know exactly how you feel when you don't go to certain places because you think it's only for the tourists. I too feel like that where I live, but sometimes it's nice to be a tourist in your own home territory. Great photos, love the one capturing the sheets drying.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Those buildings have wabi-sabi.

La Contessa said...

How neat is that!!!!!!!!I am so jealous!You are surrounded by BEAUTY!
Go Go eat there.......and tell us how it was.

Suze said...

Parts of this post reminded me of the old exhortation, 'What you spend years building may be torn down overnight. Build anyway.'

You have a gorgeous life, H.

david terry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Robinson said...

Oh my David, yet again, I truly owe you one for the very hearty laughter and have been composing my reply. It begins: "Dear Madame, as you come from such a very young country, one where women like yourself feel compelled to Botox their foreheads until they gleam with the shine of a new muffin-tin pan, it is not to be expected that you could appreciate the finer points of patina (yes, do "Google" that) from an esteemed and ancient country such as La France..." or something like that. I was having fun but will stop. :)

Again, you always have a sixth sense for just when I need a smile--I was up most of the night with a bad stomach ache, my fault for buying that industrially made "salmon" sandwich instead of making my own--and while this further jostled my belly, it was fine medecine.
Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

Enjoy your time in Provence, Nicole! The weather couldn't be finer, so happy that you are here now...so glad that my posts are adding to the ambiance. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Thanks, friend. And oooh, maybe you don't want to write about your time in Arles because, in being your honest self, you would have to admit that I talked your ears off and left you in a glazed over, "in need of immediate rosé" haze? hehehehe...
Counting on you and Will to get back here sooner than later...
Bisous!

Heather Robinson said...

Actually Lorrie, we have a feeling that the Christians pillaged the Roman monuments to build the amazing churches and cathedrales here--that would show those "pagan" folk!

And thank you, I love when dark clouds condense the sunset like that.

Heather Robinson said...

So well said! It is like who am I trying to impress, you know? I am being a snob!! hehe

Heather Robinson said...

Nearly all of Arles is a demonstration of wabi-sabi. Time has been kind and not so kind and it is a pleasure to see.

Heather Robinson said...

Will report back, lovely Contessa. They serve Italian food and you know how I love that!

Heather Robinson said...

Not all of it, dearest Suze but the parts I share with you all are not so shabby, I admit. :)
*HUG*
hehehehehhee

silkannthreades said...

How lovely to find that secret courtyard. Did you put some of the pears in your pocket? Or take a bite whilst you were there? I would have been tempted. And I love that your eye captured the washing out to dry. Thanks for explaining why I couldn't comment on your earlier posts. Sounds as though you have a very sensible plan to deal with spam. Re Cairo; 4 special years there as what is known as a 'trailing spouse' :)

I Dream Of said...

Hardly!!! Shhh... don't tell Will, but for my next trip, I want to drag over another one of my girlfriends who is an interior designer and go on an antiquing frenzy. Home base could be Vicki's Petite Bijoux ;-) Throw in a cooking class or two and it's the perfect adventure. Will can go skiing or something, I think he would like that better, anyway! XO

Loree said...

I love the idea that you were walking in the footsteps of van Gogh. The little secret courtyard looks so charming. I love discovering places like that. A big merci for your comment. It shooed away all the little doubts that assail me. You and Suze are treasures.

simpleimages2 said...

the reverie of walking on the previous site of ancient civilization and following maybe the footsteps of Van Gogh. Can you experience that feeling again?

Heather Robinson said...

Of course, I am going to make you do this! And Le Petit Bijoux would be purrrrfect. Of course, I am already thinking of cooking classes and brocantes to suggest but will restrain myself. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Oooh, four years! And how amazing to have been a trailing spouse. I would love to know more and perhaps need to go digging around chez toi to see if there is an About page!!! Oh my, I have stories to tell about my trip to Cairo with my Mom--a location chosen by her because we both thought that it was going to be like Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile"! Oops...

And you know, we all looked longingly at the pears because they were huge, ripe and begging to be eaten but alas, decorum in France would not allow such a thing...

Heather Robinson said...

Loree, you have no idea what a fine writer you are!!!

Heather Robinson said...

There are definitely moments when history gets a tad blurry and I don't exactly know when I am...

Jo-Anne said...

I do love your blog. It keeps me focused on figuring out how on earth I can get there! Thank you for all your inspiration!

Heather Robinson said...

You are so welcome, Jo-Anne!

Clare M said...

Oooh! I love a secret courtyard! ;-)

Clare x