A Little Tour In France, By Henry James


About four miles from Arles, as you drive north-
ward toward the Alpilles, of which Alphonse Daudet
has spoken so - Page 220
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About Four Miles From Arles, As You Drive North- Ward Toward The Alpilles, Of Which Alphonse Daudet Has Spoken So

Often, and, as he might say, so in- timately, stand on a hill that overlooks the road the very considerable

Ruins of the abbey of Mont- majour, one of the innumerable remnants of a feudal and ecclesiastical (as well as an architectural) past that one encounters in the South of France; remnants which, it must be confessed, tend to introduce a cer- tain confusion and satiety into the passive mind of the tourist. Montmajour, however, is very impressive and interesting; the only trouble with it is that, unless you have stopped and retumed to Arles, you see it in memory over the head of Les Baux, which is a much more absorbing picture. A part of the mass of buildings (the monastery) dates only from the last century; and the stiff architecture of that period does not lend itself very gracefully to desolation: it looks too much as if it had been burnt down the year before. The monastery was demolished during the Revolution, and it injures a little the effect of the very much more ancient fragments that are connected with it. The whole place is on a great scale; it was a rich and splendid abbey. The church, a vast basilica of the eleventh century, and of the noblest proportions, is virtually intact; I mean as regards its essentials, for the details have completely vanished. The huge solid shell is full of expression; it looks as if it had been hollowed out by the sincerity of early faith, and it opens into a cloister as impressive as itself.

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