Arles & Saintes Maries de la mer

The sky was overcast and promised rain. We teetered across the uneven cobblestone, wove our way through fellow tourists and vendors, and allowed ourselves to be delighted at every turn. The little bistros called to us, the charm of the south sang, and I tried very hard to keep up with the group. I was nearly lost a few times, but window shutters, thrown open to rain and sun alike, begged to be admired. In the afternoon, despite the gloomy drizzle, I marched on, alone, stopping as often as I pleased, wondering what else Arles had up its sleeve. A brightly colored door, a forgotten cobbled street, a moped waiting for its rider; the surprises were varied and always lovely.

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We tumbled out of the bus at Saintes Maries de la mer, the salty, cool breeze carrying a faint smell of fish. The Mediterranean sat calmly, and boats bobbed in the harbor, fishing gear spelling onto the docks. It was quiet, with only the rustling of the wind; the town was barely awake but for some Arlésiennes dancing by the shore.  Some of us went off to mass, but I lost them in the crowd because I stopped, captivated by a diminutive inn covered in flowers. I gave up trying to find them, and instead ambled about, stopping often for all the extraordinary little scenes in an ordinary little town.

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