29 June, 2011

Beethoven in Vienne

Vienne that is on the Rhone in France not the Vienna on the Danube where you would expect to hear Strauss or Beethoven.  No this Vienne is famous for its jazz festival in July.  The city intellectuals decided that they needed a concert so the week before the big double basses and trumpets come to town they stage a serious music event however this year the big drums, basses, trumpet arrived early along with the full wind section including the piccolo, oboes and of course violins and veolas.  Yes we experienced the full 74 minute of Beethoven 9th symphony.  Now why do I know it is 74 minutes because that is the length of the music on the original CD produced by Sony.  Mr Norio Ohga from Sony who, like many Japanese, enjoy the 9th symphony after the WW11 decided that if he could not listen to his favourite symphony on the new invention then it was not worth inventing and so we have Beethoven works to thank for the capacity of the CD.
This conductor seemed to enjoy the orchestra and especially the full choir (120 voices) that came in at the last movement.  Besides the music it was the setting that made it for us.  It was set in the Roman amphitheatre on the side of Mount Pipet above Vienne overlooking the Rhone.  In its day it seat more than 13,000 spectators but for this concert there were significantly less.
Malua was tied to a floating mooring on the opposite side of the river to the town with its three main churches but I must say the town did not have a good feel.
The seats are unallocated so one had to arrive early so we left Malua and rode our bikes over the main bridge into the city and walked the last few meters into the amphitheatre and secured a great position right in the middle just above stage height and settled down for the evening as the sun set in the west.  The orchestra came in for an opening piece by Tchaikovsky with a solo violin then and break and right into the 9th.  The music was so clear one could hear every note.  It was a great experience.  Note to choir master: take a page out of the WVYC on how to stand in order and how to file in.
From the venue we rode back down the hill to stop off at a Spanish cafĂ© which was playing Spanish flamenco music.  Is this a further indication that we should have visited Spain?  Well to counteract this I received an email from Wolfgang the mast transporter who I had given strict instructions not to move the mast to le Havre until it was clear we would make it, that the mast have arrived at its destination of le Havre and I was to pay the money.  When I contacted him he realised his mistake and offer support for us getting through the canals but promised he would return it to Port Napoleon if we did not make it.  Is that 2 to 1 in favour of not making it?
Tomorrow we are off to Givors for the Sunday market and a quiet afternoon on the Rhone.
I can update you now the market both at Vienne on Saturday and and Givors on Sunday were both great with a good strong Arab influence but the quiet Sunday afternoon was spoilt by ONE jetski and five louts zooming up and down the very piece of waterway we had chosen to moor.  They left at sun set but the afternoon was spoilt.  One only then realizes how much noise these jetskis made on top of the noise of the highway and the local roads.  We will have to get out of town and into the country along the Soame but first there is Lyon the food and wine capital of France…

23 June, 2011

Riding the Rhone

Malua has always had a pair of mountain bikes on her deck since we left Australia.  While sailing I store then in the stern sugar scoop.  Very convenient for sailing but not great if one wants to dive off the back into the water for a swim.  We have lived with this inconvenience here in the Mediterranean for five years but the joy we get when we take them ashore makes up for the time we have to climb out of the water.
When Malua is at anchor we have had to load the bikes into the RIB and ferry them shore, not great if the landing is not good but usually it is at some dock so getting ashore is not a great hassle.  You get a smile or two from people on the shore as they see these two bikes dominating the RIB but that soon turn to understand when we ride off down the road.
I have used the bike to just go down to the shop in the morning for the breakfast bread or to go further afield to the larger supermarket but the greatest trips have been the whole day affairs when we set off in one direction to see a particular place and find we land up at a completely different destination having followd a different route.
Apollo Mountain Bike
The drivers of the Mediterranean countries respect cyclist and give you a wide birth, they even let you ride down the middle of a narrow road ahead of them and they will wait.  We have even had then stop and wait for us to cross at any point in the town or country.  The only near miss was in Manorca when we were riding down a minor side highway when a minibus passed close by.  The wind caused me to swerve then just as I was recovering the next one sped by and almost clipped my handlebar.  It was so out of the ordinary I noted the type and number of the van.  When we arrived at our resting point – some point of interest, there were the two minibuses and rounded around the bus British bird watchers out for the day.  They should learn to drive Med style when they come over here.
Rusted Bike
The original mountain bikes after four years of salt water became so rusted the chain would hardly go round the cogs.  The spokes were stripes of rust.  They were not to be see on the French Riviera or the Cote d’Azure so in Corsica we sent them to the depth.
Current bike shed
Now you know all about these set of wheels we now have so I wont need to describe them but they are defiantly not Apollo mountain bikes.  Not that you need them in this area of the Rhone.  The authorities have created many flat wide tarred bike paths all along the Rhone.  When it is convenient it follows the canal but when not they snake through the fields and towns within the Rhone valley.
The bike paths are well used on the weekend with families including little kids cycling along.  The more serious group speed by, heads down trying to cover the kilometres.  We on the other hand, amble along at a slow pace enjoying the view.  We don’t always take the designated route so the other day we landed up at the end of a field with only a river bed to cross.  Undaunted we continued through the bush to pop out in the next field with our destination in sight.  Have faith I will find you Stanley.
Yesterday we set out from the Marina at Les Roches de Condrieu.  The bikes are now stored on the foredeck where the mast should be.  No RIB ride to the shore just pass them over the side onto the dock and ride away.  The route in this part of the world led us through a nature sanctuary including bird watching hides and camouflaged resting spots.  Our destination is the town of Ampuis and the famous vineyards of syrah and viognier in particular the Maugiron Chateau which has made this type of wine since the C13.  The chateau is now the centre of the organisation and doesn’t sell at the cellar door particularly to travelling sailors on bikes.

We had to return to the town of Condrieu to purchase a bottle of their lesser brand of the local.

18 June, 2011

From the Malua Web site

Our Route on the Rhone

The Rhone is a well traveled route so there is little variation to the stopping spots.  It depends on your pockets how long you stop in a marina and how interesting the free spots are.  We tend to get a feel for the place at the end of the day when we tie up then mount an expedition the following day to see the sights to return to Malua that evening for a quiet drink on board before setting off the next day.  If the place deserves a few extra days we stay.  The PK refer to the kilometer marks shown on the banks of the canals and in the cruising guide.

Port St Louis Lock PK 323

The light goes green about 0620 and you enter the lock and tie up either side to a bollard set above the lock.  The water is not going to go up or down so take it easy.  The lock man wants to know if you have been through before, if you have a peage Pass from VNF, the name of boat and master and their nationalities.  In our case all done in perfect English.  We exited with a commercial vessel behind us who soon over took us as we kept close to the starboard bank known as the left bank (as seen from going down river).  The trip to Arles is very similar to the one you get while sitting in the bus which is rather dull because the banks have been built up quite a lot above the surrounding county side.  Stick to the channel as per the red and green markers and take the bends wide as the silt is deposited  on the outside where it flows slowly and the channel is deep as it erodes the inside of the bend.  Sounds complicated but once done it comes naturally until your concentration wains and the depth sounder indicates you have 1 meter under the keel.

Arles PK 282

The old timers will tell you there use to be a pontoon but it was washed away in the last great flood.  In fact there is only one place to stay and that is the restaurant barge.  I have seen it three boats abreast but when we arrived we came alongside and tied to his forward cleat and the railing.  Later in the day a yacht with two couples and two babies came and tied up along side us.  No worries but I feared I would be kept awake by screaming babies all night.  Not a chance these less than one year olds are old hand at this boating story.  They each have a bath tub and in the evening after a stroll round the sites of Arles have a bath then adjourn to the restaurant for the evening meal and then retire to sleep like contented babies.  If you tie up alongside you can get water and electricity.  You are expected to eat at the restaurant which we did and had a very pleasant meal with wine for less than E40 - great value.
Arle is Picasso and Roman ruins land.  The famous bridge Picasso painted is some way south of the town not a long bike ride but more than a walk.  The Museum south of the town is very good and well worth a few hours looking at the history of the area.  It is well presented and show how the Romans lived during that period.  Purchase a Picasso book about the area and do the walk indicating the locations of his paintings in the area.  A bit of imagination is required but if you have seen the originals the image will remain with you for ever.  We didnt, but people say it is worth going to a bull fight.

Avignon PK 241

Avignon is reached after experiencing your first deep lock at PK 265 at Vallabregues.  Waiting area is on the port going upstream, then you go in and before you know it you are 12 meters high than when you started.  No problem.  Off to Avignon which is up a side stream and under three bridges.  You pass the famous bridge which doesnt span the river any more and tie up at the "public" wharf on the starboard side.  Choose a place close to an electricity point because they are few and far between.  We didnt use either the water or the electricity.  At the capitanirre which is across the road down stream we paid for a 11m boat E18 per night (23 for 12m).  It has showers a washing machine and dryer.  The town is the home of the Popes around 1330 when the factional rivalry got too much in Rome they moved here and built a Palace.  Well worth two days to wander round the town but you must make it to the market before 1300 to get fresh produce.  Restaurants look good but we did not try one.  We did make a large purchase at the Palace wine tasting room just before the exit.  It is good value to purchase a glass of wine E2-5 while selecting what you are going to buy.  We settled for a range of six bottles from E30 to 5 .  They are put in a box with a convenient handle for the short walk back to the boat where the wine will settle and mature in the bilge for another day when friends arrive.

l'Ardoise PK 214

At PK219 where you turn up a side stream which has more than enough depth you find a small marina which has place for 30 or so boats.  The lady owner is very helpful and runs the restaurant within the marina.  We did not eat but a fellow cruiser told us as we where about to leave that he had a very good value meal which was the best they had had in weeks.  The town which is a good bike ride away has nothing other than a cross roads, a pub and a store for the bread.  There is also an army base on the outskirts but nothing else.  Not worth the ride. Back into the canal and onward upstream as you expect to stop at Roguemaute but the moorings are missing.

l'eluse de Bolliene

No book on the Rhone canals would not have a picture of this deep lock which was once the deepest on the planet! In fact it is no different from any other large Rhone lock except the sides are higher and it may fill faster but standing on your yacht you just dont notice.
See my Blog, here, on the subject and the youtube video for the rise in water level, here.

PK 178 Pylons

We decided we wanted some quiet not in a marina so pulled alongside two pylons set about 10m apart.  The current is quite fast which helps manouvre the boat alongside.  We got an aft spring on the stern pylon which kept us from going astern, then a bow line to keep the bow from swing out into the current then set about putting enough fenders and barge boards to keep us off the black pylons.  Both smooth so no damage could be done but not something one would like to scrape against all night.  A barge came by just after we had settled down to our evening drink and the boat rocked but it had little effect.  Less than a large charter motor cruiser coming into an anchorage just before dinner time!


Nice little town with a dock to take vessels.  As you enter the larger ones are on the left and the small on the right - the higher numbers.  We took 12 right in front of the entrance between the red and green and in front of the 2.0 depth sign.  Short pontoon at a different height but lots of securing points.  When we where there there was no water only electricity so no charge.  A short walk up an avenue of old plain trees you will find the second centre of the town.  Good bakery and nice pub - Ginger.  We spent a very enjoyable evening listening to a touring Spanish band and wondered if we had made a mistake missing Spain and Portugal in this trip in the Med.  We still may make it if the draft beats us.  Great bike paths all along the canals and byways, just stay out of the wind if it is blowing in your face as you ride along the canal.

Port de Cruas PK 145

We did not make it past the entrance because we ran aground in soft mud but yachts with much less draft than 2.0m should get in.  Friends enjoyed there time in this rural setting.

La Voulte PK 129

Small town with a place to tie up at a single white bollard.  The sides of the canal have a slight slope but the water alongside is deep.  We floated our finders horizontally alongside as we tied up to the bollard.  The depth sounder went from .2 to 4.5 as the boat rocked.  It is OK for a yacht but a straight sided vessel may have to stay a half meter off the waterline if a large barge goes by.   The town was hosting a go-card derby which made quite a noise for the locals but went right over the top of our heads behind the canal wall.  The walk to the top of the town castle is worth the effort but there is not much more.  There is defiantly no water available at the canal side.

Valence PK 112

This has the blue flag best marina on a river in France.  You could fool me.  It is on the starboard side with a fuel dock down river and pontoons running east west.  I chose an finger on the downriver side between the first pontoon and the fuel dock.  We hit the soft mud just at the end of the pontoon.  Luckily some people on the dock indicated that we should try the upstream side of the same pontoon and found .3 m under the keel to tie up to a very short pontoon.  We filled the tanks with water and connected to the electricity then headed off to the local large supermarket over the motorway and on the right.  A good walk but better with bikes to carry the large quantity of food and grog from this very well supplied store.
The town is also over the motorway but up the same road until you hit the main drag into town.  Nice place with many shops with high quality cloths and goods.  We stopped for lunch in a small restaurant and had a very good meal of steak, salad, veg and wine for E26.  The town has a good feel about it and deserves more than the two day we spent there but the charge of E26 a night did not want us to spend the extra day.  Greener fields lay ahead, so we thought!

Tournon PH 91

This has a harbour which is very shallow.  We could not get near the first pontoon and tried to tie up against the jetty which unfortunately has a high overhang above the life lines so if the boat went up on a wave it would be crushed under the jetty overhang.  After a frustrating few minutes trying to rig a pole to keep mus off the overhang we threw in the towel and went astern out the entrance to find another spot further up the river.  This turned out to be quite a challenge.  We came alongside a floating pontoon at PK75 but decided to make a better approach so looped round.  On the second attempt we hit two hard rocks which rocked both Malua and my confidence because you could not see them nor could I decide to go forward or back from where I came.  Indecision saw us float away from the bank and danger.  Not a place to visit although it is well setup close to a campground.  Non and upward.

Andancette PK 69

With options running out we chose to go alongside the floating mooring on the starboard side just after the first suspension bridge built over the Rhone.  This time I inched my way sideways into the pontoon as the depth came up to the panic range of 0.0 as we touched the side of the dock.  We has soon secured Malua for the night and Denny had a double Cotes du Rhone to settle the nerves.  the small town of Andancette is nice while the adjacent town of Andance has a little history to make it a one day stop.  Tomorrow we leave the dock.

15 June, 2011

No marina for Malua

The Rhone is not a yacht friendly place with only a few designated places to stop.  Consequently one has to plan your journey so that you arrive before the night curfew starts, not that we are up that late but planning is essential.
Avignon dock
We left Arles having spent two nights alongside the floating restaurant and set our sights on arriving at Avignon only 40km (no more nautical miles in a river)in the early afternoon.  That stop was no problem.  We enjoyed the town and stocked up on wine and provision for the trip north.  I took stock of the water and judged that we did not require topping up the tanks.
Set off for Roquemaure and a town quay but found nothing just a stone wall.  On we go to the next designated spot which in this case is up a tributary of the Rhone at l’Ardoise.  Here the channel is deep and we come alongside a very lovely secluded spot with about 20 long stay boats.  Unfortunately the town is a few kilometres away but had no attractions at all, just a crossroads and a small shop.  Next day we set off up stream for the riverside quay of St Etienne des Sort.  Again on arrival the floating pontoons that should be there in the summer are missing.  How these town think they are going to attract the big spending yachties without a wharf I don’t know.  On we go through the very deep Bollene lock.  After that experience and having to wait two hour we needed a spot to stay.  The only marina on the chart is now Viviers 50 km from our last port of call. Too far today we need a stop.
At the PK178 “milestone” the guide notes two pylons on the bank of the river.  We decide to give it a go and see if we can tie up.  At this point the river is flowing about 4 or 5 km/h so I slowly move Malua forward, Denny has a strong spring from the amidships cleat ready and we come alongside the downriver pylon.  Malua comes to a halt but the bow swings in to the upriver pylon.  Rush forward with the fenders and we are safely secured but not enough fenders to protect us from the wash of a passing barge.  Two barge boards on the outside of two sets of vertical fenders between a horizontal fender and we are a good distance off these steel pylons and with enough room to roll with the wash of a passing barge.  In fact it is rather pleasant sitting alongside the banks in the middle of nowhere.  Not a spot to linger so next day we off to Viviers in a tributary.
Generous fenders
We arrived before lunch but the sign states 2.0 depth.  We inch in and tie bow to the dock and the shallow water alarm goes off. No more depth.  Didn’t matter because we had made it.  Now for the water.  Sorry no water at the dock but you can stay free and use the electricity.  The hotel boats with their hundreds of passengers are alongside the outside arm of the quay filling their tanks with fire hoses but for us small craft, no water.
The water situation is getting low.  We are now using the drinking water to wash the dishes and flush the loo.  Cruas is the next stop.  Sundancer has stopped there and recommends the place.  We arrive and turn off the main channel into the marina with the full knowledge that it is dredged to 2.0 meters so it will be tight.  We didn’t make it into the marina entrance before we ran aground.  Soft mud but no forward movement.  Put the engine in astern and wash our way out back into the channel.  We later found out Sundancer with less draft than Malua had also hit the mud.
Where next?  The designated marina is too far off so we have to find a place to stop.  The guide suggest La Voulte-sur-Rhone is right beside the town centre but the slight slope on the stone quay require the use of generous fenders.  We have those which we float on the water along side Malua as we pull in and secure to a large bollard.  The depth finder one moment indicates 0.0 then the next 4.2m below the keel.  The round bilge of a yacht does have some advantages.  All looks fine and we set off on a great bike ride through the fruit growing area of the Rhone returning for a shower but no water!  This is now a serious problem.  There is not a tap in sight.
La Voulte
Next day we are off to the blue star marina on the Rhone at Valence Eperviere suitable for 420 boats.  The entrance is off the river with a fuel dock down stream and the marina itself up stream.  The obvious place was between the fuel and the first pontoon but as we approached we are stoped short stuck in the mud.  Thankfully some people on the pontoons directed us to a deeper channel and we came alongside and secured Malua with 0.0 below the keel.  Now for some water to fill the tanks, increase the draft and sink deeper into the mud.  Will we get out into the stream again?  That’s a problem for another day.

10 June, 2011

That’s not a lock, this is a lock

Bollene Lock
The first lock we entered at Vallabregues has a lift height of 12.7 m and is quite long and deep, well yesterday we entered a real lock, the deepest lock in Europe at Bollene on the Rhone.  It rises and falls a massive 26m.  It was completed in 1952 and is suppose to have an art deco style but to me it is just a great big cavern that you enter with the sunlight way above.  It is now not the deepest lock in Europe with one in Portugal at Douro being deeper and of course since 2003 the Chinese have built a deeper one in the Yangtse Gorge.
Floating bollard
We arrived and had to wait tied up down stream.  A large hotel boat came out and we thought we would enter but the red and green lights turned back to red and the doors closed.  Almost two hour later the doors opened and we steamed into the bottom of this massive narrow lock with green slimy sides and tied up against the starboard wall.  At points on the wall there were small leaks into the lock creating a water spout onto the boat - an unexpected shower.  We were the only vessel as the siren sounded and the water started to entre the lock from under the surface.  Relatively smooth and calm but it must be a huge volume of water rushing in because the water level rises faster than you think.  Faster than when you fill a bucket of water from a tap and much faster than when you fill a bath.  You just move up the wall from the bottom of the cavern into the sun light 26 m above.  A seven story building.
In 1998 while a house boat was in the lock the main up river gate unexpectedly opened at speed and a wall of water rushed in filling the lock in an instant.  The house boat was smashed and sunk and the lady owner drowned in the swirl of water.  Thankfully the cause has been rectified and this can’t happen today but the thought did go through my mind what to do if the water rushed in.  You now have to wear life jackets (PFD) in all Rhone locks.
I hope I have captured the feeling in my youtube video here    Youtube video
Having had to wait at both lock we were behind schedule and did not want to rush to reach Viviers so we gently cruised past the Macoule nuclear power station that provide most of France with electricity.  This one was completed in 1956 and is still going strong cooled by the water of the Rhone.  We tied to the banks of the Rhone at two pylons and settled down for the night to be disturbed by a very large barge racing to get to the Bollene lock before it closed for the night.  We rocked and rolled at the wake washed past us.

09 June, 2011


Avignon Square
Arles is to Romans as Avignon is to Popes and yes there are factions in every organisation.  In 1309 there were a few factions within Rome and a scheming French king so the then Pope left Rome and set up his court in Avignon.  Now the palace was a modest place so he set about building a more opulent palace for his cardinals and his hangers on.  To do this he had to tax the folks in the country side.  He got a huge palace right on the river Rhone.  We pulled alongside the city walls and was able to climb a few stair to get right into the large square in front of the palace.
Palais des Papes
Not only did they build this palace but a Chateauneuf du Pape right up the road where they planted some grapes.  I remember my father opening a few bottles of this wine from this vineyard in the Cotes du Rhone on special occasions, thanks to the Sedgewick’s importing business.  So on my birthday while in Avignon I too open a few bottles of the local 2006 vintage and celebrated the good times past and those in the future.
Now Pope Clement V didn’t last that long so the next Pope needed more rooms so he added an extra few wings and so it went for the next 77 years but unfortunately the taxes did not flow in as expected so the court had to borrow and go into deficit.  That was the beginning of the end.  They could not afford the lifestyle and the Pope returned to Rome where they stayed to this day.
Chateauneuf du Pape
There is a lesson there for all government around the world especially the current Australian labour party– be careful in running a deficit and trim your lifestyle for your days will be numbered.

07 June, 2011

Our first canal lock

Lock door we entered
The first challenge is always the hardest and the locks of the Rhone started with one of the largest locks. At Vallabregues where the lift from the lower reaches of the Rhone to the water above the lock is 12.7 meters.  Now that quite a jump even for a salmon swimming home to spawn but for Malua it was our first challenge.
Doors closing
Denny's heart going
Fortunately we were following a commercial barge who was about 20 minutes ahead of us.  As we came in sight of the massive weir and lock out came about five small vessels who had just been released down stream.  The lights turned green and the barge and us disappeared into this large dark chasm with wall 15 meters high.  Now you don’t have to secure your lines to the top of the wall because these ingenious French have developed a floating bollard set into the wall of the lock.  As the water raises so do you and the bollards – easy.  So secure Malua with lines from bow and stern to a single floating bollard, lots of fenders to keep you off the slimy green wall and you set to rise up.  Depth finder goes from 4 to 17 meters.
Out into the light
We where the only two vessels in the lock, the siren went off, the lights turned to red and the water started to well up in the lock.  We slowly started to rise up the side of the lock wall and into the sun light.  When you reach the top you can see out into the country side upstream of the weir.
Lock entrance
Off to Avignon and the city of the popes prior to the move to Rome.

06 June, 2011

Let the expedition begin

Malua ready to go
Everything is ready, the long To Do list is much shorter, things are on board and Malua is looking good.  The crew arrived from Paris after a great flight and two days seeing the sights of the great city, so now it is time to set off on the great expedition into the unknown.  Why the unknown you ask?  Many have travel this way before.  Oh yes but not with the draft of Malua.  She was built for the southern oceans – strong and sturdy without consideration for weight or how deep she would sit in the water.  I have already raised the boot strap (waterline strip for my non nautical friend) 100mm after the cruise in the Pacific so that the antifouling was not below the waterline.  It didn’t change the draft but it looked better.
Mast rapped
We carry extra equipment (propeller included) just in case we need to replace a broken part.  This is all well and good but not an asset in the shallow canals of France where the charted depth is less than 1.8 meters.  The Rhone river has a depth of 3.5m so we don’t have a problem if we stick to the channel.  The Seine from Paris has an equal depth.  It is just the canals in between that is the challenge and the unknown.  We have many choices, some are definitely too shallow but the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne states that it is 2.2m deep.  So Malua’s 2.1m we should have 100mm free below the keel to get through.
Arles- first bridge
After leaving Port Napoleon we sailed or rather motored round to the dock in Port St Louis de Rhone to take on last minute supplies and to spend the night.  The alarm clock went off at 5:30 for the 6:00am opening of the lock.  I had been practicing all night ” Malua veut bien le passage de l’ecluse” only to get a response from the lockkeeper “Malua are you leaving the sea and entering the Rhone?”
Malua tied up alongside
The lights turned from Red Green to Green – the road bridge went up and we where off into the lock.  Came along side and secured in the placid waters of our first lock to the bollard.  Answered a few questions in English from the lock keeper and the lock gates opened into the mighty Rhone and we were off.
After four hour of a steady pace up the wide river, well marked with red and green channel markers and kilometre marks we approached Arles – our first nights stop. Along side a restaurant.  The expedition has begun and the unknown lies below.

05 June, 2011

Arles – little Rome and van Gough

Arles amphitheatre
The Greeks established Arles which was then taken over by the Romans who made this, the lowest crossing of the Rhone, their “little Rome” not that it is that today but it is a fascinating town.  The amphitheatre is still very much in existence however one side is covered in scaffolding like most of the building in either Rome or Athens.  During the summer there are even bull fights in the arena.  There are many other old stones lying around especially the theatre and the city walls.  The real treasures lie in the museum just out of town.  Mate, no problem, we have wheels!  Off we go after a restful night (no anchor to drag) to see the sights.  Being Sunday entry is free.  What a great place, well set out with models and drawings of the city of Arles during the Roman times.  Some of the sarcophagi were not as large as at Kekova Road Turkey but the amphora were the best we have seen while in the Med.  I can spend hours in these types of museums just looking at how they lived, using lead pipes to run water around the city and the water wheels to mill their corn.
Van Gogh painting
The bridge today
After the Museum we were off out of town on a search for the famous bridge painted by van Gogh which we saw in the Kroller Muller museum in Holland back in the ‘70s.  Fortunately the bridge still stands but the surrounding stone work has changed and the reeds have grown along the bank but close your eyes and you can imagine being back to 1888 along with Vincent painting the canal at port du Bouc along with Gauguin.
Later in the day we walked a route through the city to see The Yellow House, The Shop and the famous The Starry Night looking out over the Rhone.  Again the sites have changed over time but with a copy of the painting in your hand you can be transported back to the 1880s.  The yellow house was destroyed in 1944 but the building along side and the train bridge down the road is still there.  The Bedroom at Arles has gone but we have seen the original painting in Amsterdam.
On the outskirts of town is the Les Alyscamp which is a Roman and Christian cemetery at the junction of the road to Santiago de Compostela and to Rome.  Did those Romans build great freeways to the ends of their empire?  Not that a modern suspension could take the cobble stones.
We returned to Malua and had the obligatory meal in the floating Restaurant/dock we were attached to.  Not that we minded it was one of the best meals we have had.  Local produce cooked in the galley and presented simply and elegantly while Malua was secure along side and we watched the Rhone flow by under a starry night – what bliss.