In The Child on the Terrace, the latest in the Dangerous Journeys series, Anne McPhail escapes with a child she rescued from kidnappers and travels across Spain and France into safe haven, she thinks, in Italy. One of the cities she passes through is Arles, famous for the paintings of Van Gogh.
Arles is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a town that has existed since the 7th Century BCE, and was an important Gallo-Roman city. During the later Roman Empire it was an important cultural and religious centre.
Frequent wars afflicted the area until it was finally handed over to France in 1378 CE.
The port flourished until the advent of the railway decreased the importance of the river trade. Today, it is again a prominent port for river cruises bringing tourists to its streets for the history and, for many, the opportunity to walk in the steps of Van Gogh.
Anne’s route took her over the Rhone river on the bridge made famous by Van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night over the Rhone.
Although the yellow house where Van Gogh lived and painted, including The Yellow Room, is a place many tourists would like to see, unfortunately, as it lay near the railroad bridge, it was destroyed by Allies forces in WWII.
Franco-American forces liberated Arles on August 25th, 1944.