Chicken and Carousels – Remembering Arles


“Sitting in Arles listening to a guy with a trumpet play ‘La Vie en Rose’ next to a backpack with a whole chicken from the market. It’s like a movie. It’s about 60 degrees and breezy. The sun is shining and the sky is this pure, crystal blue; it’s surreal. The market is colorful and loud with the smells of chicken cooking and the spices on the spice table fill the air. The carousel spins in a wheel of lights a pastel colors; a pig is chased by a bull, a pink airplane, and Cinderella’s pumpkin coach.”

We took a day trip to Arles and when we tumbled out of the bus into the cool morning the smells of the market hit us immediately. When we first arrived it was well attended, but not crowded. A table covered in large baskets full of spices drew me in. There were mounds of golden curry and speckled pepper and a million other things that I could only regard in amazement. Everything was as vibrant as you can imagine, the reds and blues and golds jumping out at me in the crisp summer sunshine. The streets were quiet except for us with our cameras and backpacks and awestruck faces. We wandered around the arena of Arles, which is much smaller than Rome’s monstrosity, but equally impressive. The stone glinted gray and white against the cerulean blue of the sky and even the birds seemed quiet and still. Leaving the arena after exploring to our hearts’ content, the city seemed to awaken at last. The market was filled with the chatter of shoppers and the golden notes from the saxophone hung in the air like the sweet sound of a wind chime in the breeze.

A whole, rotisserie chicken straight off the grill made its way into my backpack along with a wedge of hard white cheese and fresh crusty bread. All of the fruits and vegetables gleamed in a riot of colors, almost too beautiful to eat, too beautiful to touch. A few yards away, two of the guys on our trip sat on the cold stone, leaning against a low wall and sharing a baguette. They watched the carousel next to the Tourist Center cavort in circles and did not look up as I snapped a quick picture. Just steps away from the market it grew quieter and the laughter of children and music from the carousel flitted along the air, bright butterflies of sound.

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