Occupying just under a quarter of a Full region that leverages the private region LI bonus, La Garde-Aris is a charming setting created by Aristide Atlass. It offers a little slice of France for people to enjoy and photograph, and which has little twists of humour about it – including in the About Land description.
Drawing inspiration from the coast of Provence, the historical province of south-eastern France and home to the famous city port of Marseille, La Garde-Aris presents a richly detailed setting that presents a small coastal town nestled under high cliffs that has perhaps seen the traditional income brought to it by fishing the local waters to the more lucrative – if possibly as seasonal – tourist trade.
From the smart little beach and waterfront shops through to the market square and the cobbled roads that wind around the buildings and climb the hills to one side of the setting, this is a place brought to life by the local “inhabitants”, static and animated NPCs that can be found throughout, lazing on the beach, exploring the marketplace, shopping, taking a run, and so on.
Some of these characters would appear to be local, but I’d say that most are likely casual visitors, people who have arrived along the road that emerges from a tunnel to one side of the parcel. This ends at a little car park sitting a short way back from the beach and overlooking a little fisherman’s cove into which a fishing boat is chugging, whilst nest hang to dry on the shore.
The car park itself is witness to the arrival of a young couple clearly here to enjoy some surfing, and a family who have arrived by camper van. Further down the road, a tour bus has pulled up alongside the bridge leading up to what might be the older part of town, allowing its passengers to explore up there, or head across the road into the bustling square with its open market, shops and little café-restaurant.
The older part of town is dominated by the round tower of an aged fort, a place that offers a good vantage point for looking across the town. Directly below it, on what looks to be a terrace of more recent origin – or perhaps a part of the fort that has been newly dressed with stone, a jazz band plays and visitors can enjoy a dance.
It is here, as well, that some of the humour evident in the setting is apparent – the studio gallery alongside the old fort is called L’art te Chaut, which appears to be a little play on a popular edible variety of thistle which sometimes has the word “French” put in front of it. Close by, the converted chapel offers a rather interesting compendium of book titles – although I confess it’s the first time I’ve visited a reading room that includes a dance pole…!
Across the length of the town, and facing the fort and the raised buildings alongside it, is a large villa, a stand of cypress trees separating it from the town. Of Tuscan design (well, Provence is bordered by Italy to the east), the villa may look to be private, but is in fact open to the public as well, and is furnished throughout and is named for the local “historical figure”, Chevalier de la Frite, who features in Aristide’s Picks write-up for the town.
Colourful and with a lot going on when it comes to the NPCs, La Garde-Aris is a charming, easy-going visit – although the region as a whole can be occasionally heavy going for those running with things like Shadows enabled in their viewer and a high Draw Distance as a couple of the other parcels on it have a lot going on, textures-wise), so it might be advisable to tone the latter down if you find things a little bumpy.
With thanks to Shaun Shakespeare for the pointer.
- La Garde-Aris (Stingray, rated Moderate)