06/09/2015 05:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2016

The Legacy of the French Revolution in Arles

As a student of history, I've long been fascinated by the fanaticism of the French Revolution (1789), which challenged every aspect of French society with "the test of reason." If something wasn't logical, it was swept away. For example, the calendar -- rather than 7-day weeks, with months of 30 or 31 days (not to mention the weird February thing) -- was turned into 12 months of 30 days each (divided into three ten-day weeks), with five days left over for service to your country.

Also during the Revolution, churches were turned into "temples of reason." I'd never actually seen a tangible sign of this. But recently in Arles -- checking, fine-tuning, and beefing up my coverage of the town's sights for our guidebook -- I stepped into St. Trophime Church in search of another dimension. In a side chapel was this faded painting from 1789: a triangle within a sunburst, celebrating reason rather than religion.

It's so fascinating to actually see the layers of history here. Has anyone seen other examples of this in France?

St. Trophime Church in Arles, France