Our intrepid travelers, OLLI Francais, started the work week on Monday with a leisurely walk through the ancient Roman city of Arles.
Our local guide here is Austrian and speaks fluent English. The Mistral was blowing today, the strong, cold wind that travels from the northwest through the Rhone river valley. OLLI members found it invigorating after the past few warm days, but our guide explained that it blows an average of one-third of the year and makes some people anxious and out of sorts.
Our guide did a great job of refreshing our memories of Roman history while explaining the importance of the city since it was first settled around 800 B.C. The Romans took over the town in 123 B.C., gradually building a large city with Roman baths, a Forum, Circus forchariot races, Theater for cultural events, and an arena for games and fighting. Much of the arena remains and bull games and bull fighting now takes place there.
We had our photo taken on some of the remaining steps of the Roman Theater. After another memorable lunch, near the choppy Rhone river, we visited the Musee de l'Arles et de La Provence Antiques, where we saw a Roman boat that was recovered from the mud of the Rhone river in 2011 and put on display in 2013. Our guide shared the stories behind many more treasures in the Musee before leaving us until Tuesday, when we conclude our journey to see the "Three Faces of France."