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We had read about L’Arlatan and had a chance to come to Arles in the off-season. Although that November turned out to be a little rainy, it certainly did not affect our dinner experience.
To tell the truth, it did not start out as simple plan for a dinner at L’Arlatan. It was more like a visit for a quick peek, followed by “let’s have dinner here”, and then a “let us come back tomorrow night for more”. Explanation to follow.
The hotel reopened in October of 2018 after an extensive renovation, the month before we got a chance to experience it. And since we were there early in the evening, on an off-season rainy night, we were able to have some special dedicated time from the staff.
The building is quite old, with one wall dating back to the fifth century, we were told. Fast forwarding, it was recently renovated under the direction of the Mexican artist Jorge Pardo and is nothing short of stunning. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The Mexican influence is palpable, the colors warm and inviting, and the juxtaposition of the old and the new make for an incredible experience. Every room is different, all doors are painted, all flowing in a seamless feast for the eyes. The very courteous staff pointed to a beam with remarkable well-preserved paintings. It turns out that some of the decoration may well hold the clue to the wealth of the d’Arlatan family that owned the mansion many years ago, for many years.
The staff is professional and friendly, and one of them agreed to show us around. So, it appears that Jean d’Arlatan owned the château as far back as the 14th – 15th century (did they built around an existing structure or bought?). The family, as this not-so-humble abode would suggest, was quite wealthy.
According to our guide, that wealth came from the exclusive right to sell red vermillion in what was France back then. Not a bad deal if you ask me. But out of concern that this noticeable wealth could bring trouble with the good people of Arles (no mention of any “vestes jaunes”), the story goes that these good people were told that d’Arlatan was allowed to enjoy these riches in recognition for his valor and courage in killing a monster. In case you think the story could be ancient “fake news”, it turns out that this has been fact-checked. No Pinocchio, we have hard evidence: one of the beams, in what might have been a dining room back then, is painted with a man getting the better of a monster. Nothing too gnarly, just enough to convince the doubters.
The second night was really an opportunity to take a few pictures of our Tees in this stunning setting.
L’Arlatan is worth a trip, but Arles itself is a gem of a city, and will be the subject of many posts to come.
More information can be found at https://www.arlatan.com/en.