Arles France : 5 places to visit
Arles is a captivating city located in the Camargue region of Provence, France. Known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural landscapes, Arles offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors.
Firstly, Arles is renowned for its Roman heritage, with several well-preserved ancient monuments. The most iconic of these is the Roman Arena, a magnificent amphitheater that once hosted thrilling gladiator fights and now serves as a venue for cultural events. The Roman Theater is another impressive site, featuring ruins of an ancient stage and seating area.
Art enthusiasts will be delighted to explore Arles, as it served as a muse for the famous painter Vincent van Gogh. The city showcases various locations depicted in his works, such as the “Café Terrace at Night” and the “Yellow House.” Visitors can follow the Van Gogh Trail, a self-guided tour that takes you to the places that inspired his masterpieces.
The Camargue region surrounding Arles is a picturesque and diverse landscape, known for its marshes, salt flats, and vast stretches of sandy beaches. This unique ecosystem is home to a wide array of wildlife, including the famous white Camargue horses and pink flamingos. Exploring the Camargue on horseback or by boat allows visitors to fully appreciate its natural beauty.
Provence, of which Arles is a part, is renowned for its charming countryside, fragrant lavender fields, and quaint villages. The nearby town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, located in the heart of the Alpilles mountains, is worth a visit. It is known for its picturesque streets, lively markets, and as the place where Van Gogh spent a year in a mental asylum.
Arles also hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including the world-famous Rencontres d’Arles photography festival, which attracts artists and enthusiasts from around the globe. The city’s dynamic arts scene is further enhanced by numerous galleries and museums, showcasing a wide range of contemporary and classical works.
In conclusion, Arles is a captivating destination that combines a rich historical heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and a vibrant arts scene. Whether you’re exploring its Roman ruins, immersing yourself in Van Gogh’s footsteps, or discovering the beauty of the Camargue and Provence, Arles offers a truly unforgettable experience.
Here are some things to see and do in Arles :
Visit the Roman Amphitheater in Arles
he Roman Amphitheater in Arles is a magnificent ancient monument that stands as a testament to the city’s rich Roman history. Also known as the Arles Arena, it is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Constructed in the 1st century AD, the amphitheater was designed to host various spectacles and events, including gladiatorial contests, chariot races, and theatrical performances. It could accommodate up to 20,000 spectators, reflecting the importance of entertainment in Roman society.
The Amphitheater’s exterior is an impressive sight, with its well-preserved two-tiered arcades made of local limestone. The façade features a series of arches and columns, showcasing the architectural mastery of the Roman era. The towering outer walls create a grand and imposing presence.
Inside the Amphitheater, visitors can explore the complex network of galleries and staircases that allowed for efficient circulation of people. These passageways provided access to the different seating areas, where spectators would have cheered for their favorite gladiators or watched thrilling chariot races unfold in the central arena.
Today, the Amphitheater continues to host events and shows, albeit of a different nature. It serves as a unique venue for cultural performances, including bullfights during the Feria d’Arles festival and concerts by renowned artists. This blending of ancient history and contemporary culture adds to the charm and vibrancy of the site.
Visiting the Roman Amphitheater in Arles offers a remarkable opportunity to step back in time and imagine the grandeur of the Roman Empire. It is a must-see attraction for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the fascinating heritage of Arles.
Explore the Roman Theater
The Roman Theater in Arles is another remarkable ancient site that showcases the city’s Roman heritage. Constructed in the 1st century BC, it is one of the most well-preserved Roman theaters in France and offers visitors a glimpse into the theatrical traditions of the time.
Situated on a hillside overlooking the city, the theater was designed to accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. It was primarily used for theatrical performances, including comedies, tragedies, and other dramatic productions. The semi-circular seating area provided excellent acoustics, ensuring that the audience could hear the actors’ voices clearly.
The theater’s architecture is a marvel to behold. The stage area, known as the scaenae frons, featured ornate columns, statues, and intricate decorations, demonstrating the grandeur of Roman design. The seating area, divided into sections by stairways and walkways, allowed for efficient crowd movement.
While the Roman Theater has suffered some damage over the centuries, substantial parts of the structure have been preserved. Visitors can still see the remnants of the stage, the auditorium, and the surrounding architectural elements, giving a sense of the theater’s original splendor.
Today, the Roman Theater serves as a venue for cultural events and performances. During the summer months, it hosts the annual Arles Summer Festival, which showcases a variety of artistic disciplines, including theater, dance, music, and cinema. Attending a performance in this ancient setting adds a unique and unforgettable dimension to the experience.
Exploring the Roman Theater in Arles provides an opportunity to appreciate the architectural mastery and cultural significance of the Roman era. It allows visitors to connect with the past and envision the vibrant theatrical performances that once took place in this historical venue.
Have a walk in the Old City of Arles in the footsteps of Van Gogh
Taking a walk in the old city of Arles allows you to follow in the footsteps of the renowned artist Vincent van Gogh, who spent a significant part of his career in this charming Provençal town. Van Gogh found inspiration in Arles’ picturesque streets, vibrant colors, and unique atmosphere, creating some of his most iconic works.
Start your journey by visiting the Place du Forum, a lively square that served as the subject of Van Gogh’s famous painting “Café Terrace at Night.” Take a moment to enjoy a drink or meal at the café, immersing yourself in the same ambiance that captured Van Gogh’s imagination.
From there, head towards the Espace Van Gogh, formerly known as the Hôtel-Dieu. This historic building was once a hospital where Van Gogh was treated after cutting off his ear. Today, it hosts art exhibitions and offers a tranquil courtyard reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “The Courtyard of the Hospital at Arles.”
Continue your stroll to the Place Lamartine, where you’ll find the “Yellow House.” This is the site where Van Gogh lived and created some of his most famous works, including the series of “Bedroom” paintings. While the original Yellow House was destroyed during World War II, a reconstruction now stands as a reminder of Van Gogh’s time in Arles.
As you navigate the narrow streets of the old city, keep an eye out for the locations depicted in Van Gogh’s paintings. Look for the distinctive Langlois Bridge, which Van Gogh portrayed in several of his works. Capture the essence of his famous “Starry Night Over the Rhône” by gazing at the night sky along the banks of the Rhône River.
Arles is also home to the Van Gogh Foundation, which houses an extensive collection of the artist’s works and provides insights into his life and artistic process. Consider visiting this museum to deepen your understanding of Van Gogh’s time in Arles.
Walking in the old city of Arles on the footsteps of Van Gogh offers a unique and immersive experience. It allows you to appreciate the city’s beauty through the eyes of the artist, connecting with the places that inspired his vibrant and emotional paintings.
Taste the cooking from Arles
Arles, located in the Provence region of France, is known for its culinary delights and local specialties that showcase the flavors and traditions of the area. Here are some of the specialties you can savor in Arles:
Bull meat dishes: Arles is famous for its bullfighting traditions, and bull meat plays a prominent role in the local cuisine. Look out for dishes like gardianne de taureau, a rich and flavorful bull stew, and daube de taureau, a slow-cooked bull meat stew.
Fougasse: Fougasse is a traditional Provençal bread that is often associated with Arles. It is a flatbread typically flavored with olive oil and various toppings like olives, cheese, and herbs. It’s perfect as a snack or accompaniment to a meal.
Brandade de morue: This is a classic Provençal dish made with salted cod, olive oil, garlic, and sometimes potatoes. The cod is traditionally whipped into a creamy texture and served with bread or as a filling for savory pastries.
Anchoïade: Anchoïade is a flavorful anchovy-based sauce or dip that is popular in Arles. It is made by combining anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes other ingredients like capers and lemon juice. It is often served with crudités or as a condiment for bread.
Calissons: Calissons are traditional Provençal candies that have a distinct diamond shape. They are made from a paste of ground almonds, candied fruits, and sugar, flavored with orange blossom water. Calissons are a delightful treat to enjoy and are often given as gifts.
Ratatouille: While ratatouille is not exclusive to Arles, it is a beloved Provençal dish that is widely enjoyed in the region. This vegetable stew typically includes ingredients like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that showcases the abundance of fresh produce in the area.
These are just a few examples of the culinary specialties you can find in Arles. Exploring the local markets, restaurants, and bakeries will reveal even more delightful treats and flavors that make the city a gastronomic paradise in the heart of Provence.
The Beauties in the Arles surroundings : Saintes Maries, Aigues Mortes, Les Baux
Arles, located in the Camargue region of Provence, France, is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and unique sites that offer a diverse range of experiences. Here are some notable sites around Arles in Camargue:
Camargue Nature Reserve: The Camargue Nature Reserve is a vast area of marshland, salt flats, and lagoons that is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Explore the reserve’s diverse ecosystems on foot, by bike, or even on horseback, and keep an eye out for the iconic white Camargue horses, pink flamingos, and other bird species.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: Located on the Mediterranean coast, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a charming seaside town and pilgrimage site. It offers beautiful sandy beaches, a picturesque marina, and a historic fortified church. The town is also known for its vibrant Gypsy pilgrimage, Les Saintes-Maries, which takes place in late May.
Aigues-Mortes : Aigues-Mortes is a medieval walled city that dates back to the 13th century. Located on the edge of the Camargue, the town is characterized by its impressive ramparts and towers. Take a walk along the fortifications, explore the narrow streets lined with shops and cafes, and visit the Tower of Constance for panoramic views.
Les Baux-de-Provence : While not within the Camargue region itself, Les Baux-de-Provence is a picturesque village located nearby. Perched on a rocky outcrop, it offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Explore the narrow streets, visit the ruins of the Château des Baux, and admire the art exhibitions at the Carrières de Lumières.