In the year 736, Charles Martel – ruler of Francia and now a huge statue at the Palace of Versailles – campaigned south to Septimania and Provence, attacking and capturing Arles after destroying Avignon. I campaigned by rollerskate up a 60 mile stretch of perfectly straight road to conquer the “starting blocks” toilet in a hotel where apparently Charles Martel stayed. It was probably a dump back then too. Can’t stick around for the bullfights though. Van Gogh was inspired by the quaint town and the painted Cafe Terrace at Night here.
The 20,000 spectator arena was built for chariot races and bloody fight-to-the-finish gladiator battles. At half the size, the Arles Amphitheater was inspired by the 50,000 seat Coliseum in Rome. Built in 90 AD, Arles Arena is ten years newer than the Coliseum.
“That’s funny, it doesn’t look ten years newer… it doesn’t look a day older than 19 centuries!” I joke with the hotel clerk but he doesn’t understand. Or maybe it’s just a stupid joke.