The Idler in France eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 285 pages of information about The Idler in France.

We saw also fragments of a theatre in the garden of the convent of La Misericorde, consisting of two large marble columns and two arches.

In the ancient church of St. Anne, now converted into a museum, are collected all the fragments of antiquity discovered at Arles, and in its vicinity; some of them highly interesting, and bearing evidences of the former splendour of the place.

An altar dedicated to the Goddess of Good; the celebrated Mithras with a serpent coiled round him, between the folds of which are sculptured the signs of the zodiac; Medea and her children; a mile-stone, bearing the names of the Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian; a basso-relievo of the Muses; several sarcophagi, votive altars, cornices, pillars, mutilated statues, and inscriptions, are here carefully preserved:  but nothing in the collection equals the statue known by the title of the Venus of Arles, found here, and which is so deservedly admired at the Louvre.

An obelisk of granite, about sixty feet high, said to be the only antique one in France, stands on the place of the Hotel-de-Ville.  Discovered in 1389, it was not disinterred from the earth in which it was embedded until the reign of Charles IX, and was erected on its present site in 1676, with a dedication to the then reigning sovereign, Louis XIV; A globe, ornamented with fleurs de lis placed on its point, deteriorates, in my opinion, from the beauty of its effect.  It was originally in one block, but it was broken in two by its overturn.

Many houses in the streets have portions of columns, friezes, and cornices embedded in their walls; and one of them, occupied by a barber, had a column in front, to which the insignia of his profession were attached.  Ruins, said to be those of the palace of Constantine, were pointed out to us, as well as fragments of a forum and baths.

Arles is certainly one of the most interesting towns I have ever seen, whether viewed as a place remarkable for the objects of antiquity it contains, or for the primitive manners of its inhabitants and its picturesque appearance.

The quays are spacious and well built, presenting a very different aspect to the streets; for the former are very populous, being frequented by the boatmen who ply their busy commerce between Lyons and Marseilles—­depots for the merchandise being erected along them, while the latter are comparatively deserted.

With this facility of communication with two such flourishing towns, it is extraordinary that Arles should have so long retained the primitive simplicity that seems to pervade it, and that a good hotel has not yet been established here.

Our good hostess provided nearly as substantial a supper for us last night as the early dinner served up on our arrival, and again presided at the repast, pressing us to eat, and recommending, with genuine kindness, the various specimens of dainties set before us.  Our beds, though homely, were clean; and I have seldom, in the most luxurious ones, reposed equally soundly.

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The Idler in France from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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