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Things to do in Arles

Things to do in  Arles

Welcome to Arles

Arles’ history began in antiquity, as exemplified by well-preserved, UNESCO-listed landmarks such as the Arles Amphitheatre and the Roman Theatre of Arles—visiting one or both is among the top things to do in Arles. However, it’s also inextricably associated with former resident Vincent Van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works that captured the southern city’s energy in all its streaks and whirls. Today, Rhone-side Arles is a popular South of France stop alongside Avignon, Nîmes, and the villages of the Luberon, while its proximity to the wilds of the Camargue, a protected wetland, is another draw.

Top 1 attractions in Arles

Arles Museum of Antiquity (Musée Départemental Arles Antique)

Arles Museum of Antiquity (Musée Départemental Arles Antique)

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Arles is often called the ‘soul of Provence’, a photogenic city with a history stretching back 2,500 years and crammed with Roman remains; their extent indicate the importance of the city in Roman times – thanks to its position on the navigable River Rhône – and include an arena, theater and bath complexes. Arles fell from importance around 480 AD but by medieval times was once more a power to be reckoned with, as is proven by the city’s Romanesque masterpiece church of St-Trophime. The priceless collection of Roman artifacts discovered in the region are housed in the sleek, cobalt-blue triangular Arles Museum of Antiquity (Musée Départemental Arles Antique), designed by Henri Ciriani and opened in 1995.Among its treasures, the museum displays a large collection of antiquities, including monumental Roman sculptures, pagan and Christian art and several stunning mosaics. Center stage goes to the model of the water mills that operated in Roman times at Barbegal, thought to be the most complex in ancient times; and the 2,000-year-old barge Arles-Rhône 3, found in the River Rhône and accompanied by a video about its painstaking restoration.More
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All about Arles

When to visit

Arles is one of the sunniest (and hottest) cities in France, making it a popular destination for visitors in summer, and events like Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival add to the summertime calendar. Still, Arles enjoys generally warm weather (unless the mistral wind is blowing) from April onwards, and spring can be a good time to enjoy the climate before the mosquitoes that breed in the nearby Camargue wetlands come out to play.

Getting around

Arles is served by the mainline Arles Station (Gare Arles), as well as numerous bus lines that connect the city to nearby destinations including St-Remy-de-Provence, Avignon, Nimes, and Saintes Maries de la Mer. Arles itself is best explored on foot, while guided day trips offer another way to visit Provence’s popular villages and sightseeing destinations. Otherwise, for optimal flexibility, a rental car is recommended.

Traveler tips

If you’re planning a trip to Arles, schedule your visit over the weekend so you can visit the Arles Market. Held on Saturdays from 8am to 12:30pm, the market is among the largest in all of Provence and includes an average of 450 vendors stretching for up to 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers). The market offers an embarrassment of riches, from local produce and cheeses to spices and wine. Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to sample.

People Also Ask

What is Arles, France known for?

Arles is famous for Roman ruins and its history as the home of artists Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. While the city was likely first founded by Greek-Phoenicians, the Roman era left a lasting mark, and monuments abound in the UNESCO-listed city center.

How long should I spend in Arles?

One full day will give you ample time to soak up Arles’ Roman history and artistic heritage. Make sure to visit the Arles Roman Amphitheater, the Arles Museum of Antiquity, and the Fondation Vincent van Gogh.

Is Arles a small town?

Yes, it’s a small town. Most of the sites that you’ll want to see are in the UNESCO-listed town center, which is easy to navigate on foot. If you plan to stay for a few days, it’s worth renting a car so you can explore more of the Camargue region.

Where did Van Gogh paint in Arles?

Van Gogh painted prolifically in Arles, and many of the places where he once propped his easel are now marked with plaques. Visit Place du Forum to see the site of Café Terrace at Night, Place Lamartine for The Yellow House, and the riverbank for Starry Night Over the Rhône.

Should I visit Arles or Nimes?

It really comes down to what kind of town you prefer. Nimes is bigger, but Arles still offers plenty of points of interest. If you want a more intimate, small-French-town feel (and less walking), visit Arles; for a larger city with slightly more to do, opt for Nimes.

Is Arles worth visiting?

Yes. Charming, shabby-chic, and laidback (but still fairly lively), Arles offers its own, avant-garde version of Provençal culture. While the town sees more tourists than it did in the days of van Gogh, it’s still charming enough that you’ll easily see why so many artists made this place their home.


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