Getting Lost in Arles a Guided Tour
We had barely walked 3km from our meeting point, but we were utterly lost in the architecture and history of Arles. My husband and I were in Arles for our annual trip to the sous-prefecture to request the forms for the renewal of our long-stay visas. This process involves getting up early (which he hates), standing in a cattle queue for the doors to open (he doesn’t like that either), getting a ticket to indicate our approximate place within the masses and WAITING…
Essentially, it is as close to the red-hot gates of Hell as he wants to get.
Usually, we reward ourselves with a tour of the Rencontres d’Arles photo exhibit. This year I asked Heather Robinson if she would give is a “Lost in Arles” guided tour instead.
Heather followed a handsome French photographer (Rémi Benali) to France some 14+ years ago. It was definitely for love as she left behind a theatre-based acting career in Manhattan and embarked on a journey to a country she did not know and a language she did not speak. Heather and Rémi launched themselves into a joint venture that only a dream team couple of writer and photographer could do. They travelled all over the world to deliver 30 stories for the magazine “Grands Reportages” (and many others) typically focused on tribes, traditions or UNESCO World Heritage sites.
These road warriors were on their way back to Paris (home base at the time) from a photojournalism festival in Perpignan in 2003 when they stopped in Arles. One perfect September night was all it took for them to decide to pull up roots in the capital city and move to Arles. You can read the full story in Heather’s blog post here.
Heather admits she might have been eavesdropping while she walked her dogs.
It was those large tour groups with their guides dishing out varying degrees of facts and misinformation that convinced Heather that she should start her walking tours of Arles. Heather started her blog Lost in Arles in 2010 as a creative outlet. The realities of well-paid media articles had dried up across the globe, changing the couple’s focus to seeking opportunities closer to home. Published in National Geographic (April 2014) “The Romans in France” Remi’s photos complimented this article on Roman treasures recuperated from the Rhone River in Arles.
Heather began her walking tours after a little coaxing from friends. Her small group (2-6 person) tours run 2-3 hours in the historic centre of Arles. Heather uses her training as an actress to remember an incredible depth of facts about her adopted city. From Roman days, through the Middle Ages. From Arles’ glory days as a seaport to desperation caused by the plague. From art to fashion to the future, Heather covers 2000+ years of Arles history in a short block of time.
Here is how Heather describes her tours:
I give private, in-depth guided walks through the Centre Historique – but also down its quiet side streets where its best patinas are on display. There are 2000 years of living, breathing history and culture in Arles – from the majestic Roman and Romanesque monuments (the reason why Arles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), to the secrets of the Rhone River and the rather remarkable legacy left behind by Vincent Van Gogh. My main hope is to try and make that come alive for my clients.
To book one of Heather’s tours you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: All images were provided by and published with the permission of Heather Robinson.