Days 19-23 Helen-Arles, France


I spent five days pottering about in Arles, studying in my apartment , doing yoga and cooking some of the lovely ingredients available in Provence at this time of the year. Highlights were The Lavendar Museum, where the sell great products, made from medical grade lavender, very cheaply and the Saturday market. There is also an amazing photographic expo at this time of the year in the town with about 40 major photographers exhibiting from all over the world. This year included the first David Bailey retrospective in 50 years of him working. This was a real bonus for me (being 50 this month), it charts celebrity culture during the whole of my lifetime. I am also a very keen photography fan and Dave and I are huge fans of the 60s film Blow Up which was based on David Bailey.

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The Saturday market in Arles is either the best in France or not even one of the best in France, depending on which review you read. I think there is some snobbery in criticising this market as it is fairly touristy. It is quite large and I found it well worth visiting. Then again, I can walk around and look at fruit an veg for hours quite happily. The quality of the summer produce was staggeringly impressive and the market did not feel too crowded. I enjoyed the experience a lot and came back with a big bag of chard, carrots, pumpkin, courgettes, red cabbage and other lovely things. I was surprised how little meat was on sale compared to the amount of non-meat stuff. I would say that easily more than 70% of the produce could be eaten by vegans.

As always on biking holidays, the purchase of souvenirs is not an option, unless the are very small. I was sad not to be able to buy one of the lovely, colourful baskets or some of the pottery but I did avail myself of the LÓccitane shop. No different to the one in Berlin but it feels different buying the products in the area where they are produced. It was also nice to have time to browse and try things. I now have a long list for Christmas.

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