visiting the south of france – walking with heather

by Sharon Santoni

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The summer is upon us, and many of you will be visiting the south of France over the next couple of months.   If you are like me, when you travel you like to get off the tourist trail and discover the less-explored paths and corners.  Of course if you try to do this alone, you can end up a tad frustrated and even, dare I say it, lost!

What better way to explore than in the expert hands of a bilingual expat, who is also a history buff, and a gifted writer and photographer.

heather robinson in arles

The lady I have in mind is one Heather Robinson.  She writes the blog Lost in Arles, which (while the title may not inspire confidence in those hoping NOT to get lost) is a charming collection of photos and writings that  Heather has put together over the past five years as she discovers this beautiful town in Southern France.   She also gives her two lovely dogs the occasional mention, which works for me, and many others …

heather robinson with her two dogs

Heather was an actress in Manhattan when she fell in love with a French photographer and decided to follow him back to France.  They lived in Paris for a while and stumbled upon Arles while driving through the south of France.   She is one of the most generous and knowledgeable girls I know, and discovering the town of Arles with her leading the way is one of the best things I have done.  Definitely worth a special trip.

Heather offers private, in depth guided walks for no more than six people.  She leads her guests through the old part of the town, and down the quiet side streets where  the patina is waiting to be discovered .  Arles is a small town, famous for its roman amphitheatres, and soaked in 2000 years of history.

stone walls to the arenas

In particular it is known for its horsemen and for the beautiful traditional costumes and head dresses worn by the Arlesian  women, who sit behind the mens’ saddles, showing off their slim wastes and pretty lace shawls.

horse parade in Arles

 Arles is also the scene for one of the biggest outdoor markets, and if that is something you enjoy, then Heather can incorporate a visit to the market in her tour.

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And if that is not enough to impress you , then remember that Arles is the birthplace of the French designer Christian Lacroix, and was home to Van Gogh and to Gaugin for a couple of years.

lantern silhouette against pink sky

If you would like to see more of Heather’s pictures then pop over to her blog Lost in Arles , and if you want to contact her to ask about taking a tour, then you are welcome to send her an email.


Colleen Taylor July 29, 2015 - 7:34 pm

Heather’s blog is quite lovely & thank you for sharing this. Arles, must see!

Wanda July 29, 2015 - 8:12 pm

My daughter and I were ‘lost in Arles’ a couple of years ago and were quite delighted to come across that amphitheater by accident! It was amazing!

Sally July 29, 2015 - 8:12 pm

Heather is as cute as a button! What a wonderful website she has. This is a lovely posting–thank you so much! I’m intrigued by Arles even more than before (before being when I looked at Van Gogh’s paintings done in Arles).

Pamela July 29, 2015 - 8:26 pm

The photos were awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your trip, your part 3 of your summer story was great ! Looking forward until next week. The paintings are so beautiful. The work on them is great.
Have a great day!

Valerie July 29, 2015 - 8:44 pm

Beautiful Arles! This is the place I have dreamed of living in. I was there 2 years ago, and fell in love! Thank you for this moment!

LA CONTESSA July 29, 2015 - 9:00 pm

I canNOT wait to take this walking TOUR!I must get MYSELF over yonder PRONTO!
Love the short hair HEATHER!We do not see enough of YOU in front of the camera!
Those DOGS…………..are STARS!
Since I went to FRANCE to meet GHETTO & GIBSON just seems right I need to GO TO FRANCE to meet BEN & KIPLING!!!
Catching up on the WONDERFUL story SHARON has written………..WHAT A DREAM to discover a house has been left to YOU!
I”M coming I”M coming………..will WORK ON THE ITALIAN tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was BEAUTIFUL thank you SHARON!Cannot wait for YOUR BOOK!!!!!!!!
I will have yours in my carry ON Heather………

D. A. Wolf July 29, 2015 - 9:08 pm

SO glad you have brought Heather’s tours to the attention of so many of us! I only wish a trip to the South of France was in my immediate plans… I would absolutely be signing up for the Heather Tour and would be thrilled to do so. She has a magical way with both words and visuals. I can only imagine walking through Arles with her would be unforgettable.

Suzanne July 29, 2015 - 10:46 pm

We have recently visited Arles while in southern France. While it was lovely, we found it distressing that every Roman amphitheater had a fee to walk around it. We had been in Patis for a week, Avignon and many other villages that were easily as historic, but much more tourist friendly.

May July 29, 2015 - 11:59 pm

Wonderful post!
I’ve been reading Heather’s blog for over a year. A tour is definitely on my list whenever I visit Europe.

Priscilla Glover July 30, 2015 - 12:36 am

July 2015
My sister organized a tour for 5 of us this year as a surprise and it was the best 3 hours of our entire trip! We have followed Heathers IG and blog for quite some time, so it was a huge treat to meet her.
We have been to Arles a few times before, but simply admiring ancient things and sites is nothing compared to having Heather really explain the whole history in a humorous and intellectual way. I can’t recommend this tour highly enough. The walk, followed by a lovely lunch was perfect!
Thanks again!

Daphne July 30, 2015 - 12:43 am

My family and I took this tour with Heather about it week ago. It was so delightful and fun and an absolute highlight of our trip. She has a gift for being able to take 2000 years of history and weave it into a neat and easy to understand package. Plus we’ve made a wonderful new friend in one our favorite parts of the world. Big thumbs up (hint: if you take her tour you will learn how this expression came about)!

Katherine July 30, 2015 - 4:04 am

We stayed in Arles about seven years ago when we toured throughout France. It was central to so many places we explored around the area as well.
Hotel Particulier is a beautiful boutique hotel we stayed at – and I have a promise to myself to go back and visit again.

Gina July 30, 2015 - 4:43 am

I love the story and the beautiful photos

Jeanne McKay Hartmann July 30, 2015 - 5:38 am

Sharon, I’m so glad to see Miss Heather here. Getting to know her via our blogs has been such a highlight of the past few years, but meeting her in person exceeded all expectations. What a wonderful, generous spirit and kindred soul. She not only gave us wonderful tips for our Provence trip a few years back, but met me, my husband, our friends and their two children in Arles and toured us around the city, giving us so much more interesting information than we would have ever discovered by ourselves. One of the things that I love about Heather is her very unique point of view – she sees beauty and layers and patina that others would miss. I couldn’t recommend a tour from her more.

Hope you are having a lovely week! XOXO

Jackie Clark Mancuso July 30, 2015 - 6:39 am

Next time I’m in the south of France, I’m definitely booking a tour with Heather!

Maria Teresa de Bracamonte July 30, 2015 - 6:51 am

Thank you for sharing this with us! It reminded me of all I’m missing and I’m planing to change that as soon as possible! You are just awesome.

Heather in Arles July 30, 2015 - 9:18 am

Sharon, thank you so very much for this wonderful post! I am thrilled and honored to be mentioned here – My French Country Home was the very first blog that I began to follow and was so good that I had to stop reading you for a while until I found my own voice! And now to know you and consider you a friend, well…it’s wonderful.

You know very well – hopefully 🙂 – how much I love doing these walks. Arles is such a truly exceptional city and yet people have no idea at what they are looking at beyond the info in a guide book. I try and make it come alive for a few hours.

Thanks to all of you who left lovely comments here – it made my day! Merci, mille fois, merci…

Karena July 30, 2015 - 4:18 pm

Sharon, Heather is so inspiring to me and Arles a place in France I cannot wait to pend time in. Having Heather guide me through her village would be a DREAM!
That it has been an artists community just adds to the intrigue!

The Arts by Karena

Kelly F July 30, 2015 - 6:47 pm

Heather is wonderful!! She took me and my teenage son on a tour and turned Arles into our favorite place. Cannot wait to get back there and would even tour with her again. Highly recommend!!!

Heather in Arles July 31, 2015 - 7:11 pm

Kelly! How are you?! I loved taking you two around! Is your son still performing??

RebeccaNYC July 30, 2015 - 7:47 pm

I love Arles. And while I don’t THINK I need a tour guide, I might be tempted to take a tour with Heather just to get an hour to hang out with her!!

Ro July 30, 2015 - 10:44 pm

Such a beautiful post. My husband and I visited Arles many years ago and enjoyed it immensely.
Thank you for sharing so many lovely photos.

Cathy C July 31, 2015 - 4:16 pm

Hi Sharon,
Discovered your blog & Heather’s blog (and Vicki’s blog) about the same time but alas that was after my two last visits to France in 2011 and 2012. Since then older French family members have transitioned to the next life and the urgency of visiting has passed. Arles is beautiful…probably worth a second visit but since I have so much of France left to see, I fear I must simply revel is the memories of Heather’s beautiful ancient city. But that said, Normandy beckons so perhaps one day soon I will find myself in your neck of the woods!
Thank you for the lovely photos.

ann hodgkins August 3, 2015 - 4:44 pm

Arles is one of my favorite places visited in France.We were on a barge trip that spent two days there.A lovely old town with many things to remember.A friend of mine knows how much I love “Starry Nights”.She has given me birthday cards,socks with the “Starry Nights” theme.We had such fun just walking around, having lunch and exploring the small shops,cafes.I regret that I did not get to visit the museum of fabrics.A very good reason to return someday!I will have to start reading Heather’s blog.

Sharon Santoni’s Stylish French Girlfriends - Daily Plate of Crazy August 11, 2015 - 8:40 pm

[…] Visiting the South of France Walking With Heather […]

Leslie in Oregon August 30, 2015 - 1:10 am

Thank you so much for this post (which I somehow missed reading until now). I have followed Heather’s blog for years, and I can well imagine that she is the best of guides to anyplace she has explored. I would make a special trip to Arles just to take one of her walks!!


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