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Arles

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Bouches-du-Rhône

Arles - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Bouches-du-Rhône
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City of Art and History, Arles is famous for its ancient and Romanesque remains. The city indeed boasts several monuments inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Its Roman amphitheatre (Les Arènes); its ancient theatre; the Alyscamps, an alley lined by sarcophaguses; the Cryptoportiques, a network of underground galleries supporting the ancient forum; The Constantin's Thermal baths, the portal and cloister of the Church of Saintt-Trophime. The Romanesque church of Saint-Trophime constitutes an important stopping point on the Way of St James (Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route).

Arles offers a wide choice of museums, such as the museum of Ancient Arles and Provence, the Museon Arlaten (traditional art and Provençal culture), the Réattu museum (contemporary art), and the Camargue museum.

Numerous places in the city, such as the garden of the hospital where Van Gogh stayed when he cut off his ear (now Espace Van Gogh, a cultural centre), the forum square, the quaysides of the Rhone river and Les Arènes, were immortalised in famous paintings by Van Gogh during his stay in Arles. A full Van Gogh circuit is offered in the city, with panels representing the works of the artist at the various places where he was inspired.

Situated near the Camargue, the city has preserved its traditions: the Gardians festival (herdsmen's festival), the Costume festival (traditional dress festival), and bullfighting events in Les Arènes: the Feria de Pâques and Feria du Riz. Capital of photography, Arles organises an international photography gathering, a famous event featuring exhibitions, parties and conferences dedicated to this art.

Additional information
Arles

Arles, France's largest municipality in terms of surface area, is located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the heart of the Bouches-du-Rhône department. Important tourist town, it is located about thirty kilometers from Nîmes, in the historic Camargue.

Labeled City of Art and History, Arles was in the Iron Age one of the main cities of the country before becoming an important site of Roman Gaul under Julius Caesar. Annexed to France from the sixteenth century, the town has continued to evolve over the centuries. A viticultural city, Arles is today mainly turned towards tourism and photography, revealing to its visitors an important historical and ancient heritage, part of which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Animated, the Camargue city is also appreciated for its intense and very developed cultural life which proposes events throughout the year. Attached to its Provençal and Camargue traditions, the town of Arles continues to preserve some old products like Santons for Christmas cribs. Some AOCs testify of the richness of its gastronomy, like the Camargue bull appreciated in the gardianes or the olive oil of the Baux de Provence and the rice of Camargue.

Things to see and do

Spearhead of Arlesian tourism, the Roman and Romanesque heritage of the city is fully inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Eight monuments are thus concerned, starting with the Roman amphitheater. Built around 80 BC, it is also classified as an historic monument. Completely restored, it is the most visited monument of the town and still hosts many shows. Dating back to the same period, the Roman Theater, listed as a Historical Monument, can still be visited. There are remains of the sealing of the swan altar in the heart of the orchestra or two columns reminiscent of the hundred others who decorated the scene. Like the amphitheater, it is now used as a venue for shows.

Roman baths of the fourth century BC, the baths of Constantine take place on the banks of the Rhone. Classified as Historical Monuments, they still present the caldarium and its swimming pools, as well as parts not yet searched today. Remains of the ancient Roman forum survive in the city with the present of classified cryptoportiques.

Romanesque building, the Saint-Trophime church is also an ancient relic. Listed as a Historic Monument and World Heritage, it reveals an architecture dating back to the twelfth century, taking place on the remains of a basilica of the fifth century. Gothic elements were then added, especially at the bedside. Inside, you can appreciate Aubusson tapestries from the seventeenth century classified as Historical Monuments and representing elements of the life of the Virgin. The ramparts of the Roman castrum and the Roman exedra are also part of this heritage.

Considered one of the oldest religious buildings of Arles, Saint Cesaire Abbey is a former women's monastery founded in the 6th century. The building which also reveals a paleochristian basilica is classified as an historic monument.

Other important churches are found in Arles, like the one of the Major classified with the Historical Monuments and the UNESCO. Dedicated to an ancient Romanesque temple during the fifth century, it was modified in the twelfth century before being erected as a collegiate church in the mid-sixteenth century. It reveals beautiful elements of Romanesque style, as well as a Louis XIII style facade. Also listed, the Saint-Julien church was rebuilt in the seventeenth century and serves as a venue for shows and exhibitions. Gothic style, the school of the Dominicans dates from the late fifteenth century and is now decommissioned. Classified, it can still be visited today.

Several museums of great interest take place at Arles, like the Musée Réattu. Housed in the former grand hospital priory of the seventeenth century, the site unveils collections of the Arlesian painter of the same name, as well as drawings by Pablo Picasso. The museum is also dedicated to photography as well as architecture.

Archaeological museum, the departmental museum Arles Antique unveils all the archaeological collections discovered at Arles.

Dedicated to the painter of the same name, the Van Gogh Foundation offers works by the Dutch painter, as well as contemporary paintings.

Ethnographic center, the Museon Arlaten was created in the nineteenth century by Frédéric Mistral. In renovation until 2019, he unveiled his collections in other sites of the city.

Classified or registered with the Historical Monuments, several mansions of the Renaissance or the classical period take place in the city. Note, for example, the hotel Courtois de Langlade, nowadays seat of the sub-prefecture, the Rotonde which now serves as a Protestant temple or the Trinquetaille glassworks of the eighteenth century.

Five nature reserves also take place on the territory of Arles, those of Camargue, Cossouls of Crau, Marshes of Vigueirat, L'Illon and Tour du Valat.

Leisure activities

Last nameActivity typeRateCity
In the Footsteps of Van Gogh: Saint Remy de Provence, Saint-Paul de Mausole, Les Baux and Arles
Culture and education100 € Aix-en-Provence
Discover a bull and horse ranch in the Camargue
Nature and the great outdoors7 € to 36 € Arles

Places of interest

Information points
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Monuments
Natural sites
Performance halls
Transport

Events and festivities

The market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is one of the largest in Provence.

Two ferias are held at Arles, during the Easter weekend and the second in September.

On May 1st, the Gardians' Day is the scene of the election of the Queen of Arles every three years.

In early May, the city hosts the international festival of nude photography.

Jazz in Arles takes place in mid-May.

In early July, it is the international photography meetings of Arles which are installed, as well as Voies off, the festival off the photo (until the end of September).

Mid-July, the festival of Suds offers a week of music.

At the end of August, discover Arelate, the Roman days of Arles and the festival of Peplum (in the ancient theater).

In September, place at the festival of horse and gourmet Camargue and at the feast of the first fruits of rice.

The Harp Festival is held at the end of October.

From the end of November to the beginning of January, discover the Santon Fair.

Funny Christmas in December reveals a craft market and animations.

Detailed information

Easter Feria
A popular bullfighting-oriented event that draws thousands of spectators each yearMarch 2019
Arles Meetings
The international photography festivalJuly / September 2019

Photos

Arena of Arles
Arena of Arles
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Visits, leisure and activities nearby

The ornithological park of Pont de Gau, near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, with nearly 1200 flamingos, an unforgettable pedestrian route.

The psychiatric hospital of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy, where Van Gogh was interned, and where he painted many paintings.

The marsh of Vigueirat offers a discovery of nature on the edge of the Camargue.

Restaurants

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Vacation rentals

Campsites

Hotels

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