Best Things to Do in Arles, France

The beautiful city of Arles is located in the southeast of France, specifically in the Region of Provence.

In its architecture, you can see the tremendous Roman heritage present in this city and for which it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

In this article, I will tell you what to see and do in Arles and what are the most attractive places in this Roman city. So let’s go there!

Best things to do in Arles, Provence, france

The Arenes of Arles

Les Arenes is the best-known monument in the city. This Roman amphitheater was built in 80 AD and had a capacity of 21,000 people.

It is very well preserved and continues to be the scene of different musical events and bullfighting shows.

Its architectural value and its conservation are surprising. A curious fact about this amphitheater is that despite being such an old building, it already had an evacuation plan at that time.

Arenas of Arles

This Roman monument is part of UNESCO and is an important place to visit in Arles.

In addition, you can buy your ticket for only 9 euros.

The schedules are very changeable depending on the months in which you will visit the place, so we advise you to visit the official page of the amphitheater to find out more about the opening hours.

Related: Best things to do in Avignon

Theater of Arles

The Roman Theater of Arles is a Roman theater from the 1st century, built during the reign of Emperor Augustus.

It started around 40/30 a. C. and was completed around 12 a. C., thus becoming one of the first stone theaters in the Roman world.

Unlike the amphitheater, this monument was smaller in size and therefore had a capacity of 10,000 people.

Arles amphitheater

As you may already know, in ancient times, the public was distributed according to their social affiliation: the wealthiest people or part of the aristocracy were lower down while the poorest, children and women, were located at the top of the theater.

In addition, in ancient times, both women and children were not allowed to enter unless they were accompanied by an adult man.

The theater, unlike the amphitheater or the circus, offered performances that could be:

  • Roman or Greek tragedies,
  • comedies,
  • mimes and pantomimes intended for a probably more refined audience.

Today the theater is pretty well preserved and is still a venue for performances and festivals.

This architectural jewel of Arles hosts festivals of all kinds every year, some of which are festivals of photography, costumes, or cinema, among other arts.

Like the amphitheater, this place can also be visited by paying a ticket, although the ideal is to attend an event in this place and enjoy the acoustics and the show in this Roman theater with a Greek essence.

Check out the tourist office in Arles for prices and opening times.

Museum of Arles and Provence

The Arles museum hides a great richness of the Ancient Age in its interior. This museum opened to the public in 1995 and has a large collection of objects from the Greek and Roman era found in the vicinity of Arles.

You will see busts of Roman emperors, sarcophagi, amphorae, and even Roman boats found in the Rhone River during your visit.

If you are a lover of art history, this museum has a lot to tell you about the Roman and Greek period in the South of France.

Learn about the heritage Van Gogh left in Arles

In 1888, Van Gogh arrived in Arles, and for about 15 months, Arles was the canvas of this genius.

The artist painted almost 300 paintings in this city, and we can see many of the corners of this French city in his works.

Van Gogh had come to this city after living in Paris for two years and when his mental illness began to feel more latent.

In this city, he had several ups and downs, he lived in Arles when part of his ear was cut off, and he was admitted several times to the hospital. Still, it would also be where he would have a fantastic artistic moment sharing his art with the painter Paul Gauguin.

Today, Arles is still the living memory of Van Gogh, and when you visit the city, you can see his house and make a tour through all the places reflected in his paintings.

Church and Cloister of St. Trophime

This beautiful Church built between the XI and XII contains the remains of Saint Trophime, the first bishop of the city of Arles. Inside, the abbey stands out with beautiful capitals on its columns.

In addition, the exterior is majestic and has a cover with the 12 apostles worthy of contemplation.

Facade of Church of St. Trophime

You need a ticket to visit this church; therefore we advise you buy a kind of bundle ticket to see the monuments of the historic center because it will be cheaper.

Baths of Constantine

The Baths of Constantine owe their name to the emperor who had them built in the 4th century AD.

Between the city forum and the Rhône, this building was built for the leisure and relaxation of the noble classes of the city.

Today, this is another of the buildings that are part of UNESCO and which you can access and contemplate its magnificent state of conservation.

Related: Best Time to Travel To France

Montmajour Abbey

Montmajour Abbey is located in the heart of Arles. It was built in the 10th century on a rock surrounded by marshes and was founded by Benedictine monks.

The building has been enlarged several times throughout history to become the great abbey that we can see now.

Church and cloister of Montmajour Abbey

It is an unmissable place that you have to see in Arles. Here you can tour the entire interior and even the dark crypts of the temple.

Alyscamps Painted by Van Gogh and Gauguin

Alyscamps is a graveyard of ancient Rome located on the city’s outskirts. In this necropolis, you can find ancient sarcophagi and a Romanesque church from the 12th century.

The popularity of this site is thanks to the painters Van Gogh and Gauguin, who, in their attempt to paint a non-naturalistic landscape, decided to capture the great avenue of tombs in a painting.

In France, this painting is known as the street of lovers. It has become one of the most important works of the two artists.

Vincent Van Gogh Foundation in Arles

The Vincent Van Gogh Foundation of Arles was born in 2014 as a tribute to the artist who captured the corners of the city in his works.

Taking the contemporary perspective of the artist and his significant influence in this field, this foundation aims to motivate artists from all over the world to express their connection with the Dutch genius.

Here you will find works and creations by artists from all over the world who want to exhibit in this place.

The visit to the foundation costs €10.

In addition to the visit itself, this foundation has several art workshops throughout its calendar.

We recommend that you visit their website to keep an eye on the events and activities in this space and see if any coincide with the dates of your trip.

Republic Square (Place de la République)

On your walk through the center of Arles, you must stop at the Place de la République. This square is a meeting point for many visitors and locals in the area.

In the center of the square, there is a Roman obelisk from the 9th century, and in its surroundings, you will find some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, such as the town hall and the church of St. Trophime.

Republic Square

A cafe in the Place de Forum

Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the ancient Roman Forum. Instead, this square is located in the center of the city.

In it, you can find remains of a temple dedicated to Constantine in the 1st century AD.

However, it is commonly known for the number of surrounding cafes and restaurants that make this square a place of leisure and entertainment for travelers.

A perfect place to rest during your visit to Arles.

Réattu Museum, for Photography Lovers

If you have an artistic mind, you might be interested in visiting the Réattu Museum. This museum in Arles mainly collects the work of local artists, but it also has some pieces by other artists, such as Picasso from Malaga, Spain.

This museum was created in 1868 and has been restored several times. If you are a photography lover, I must tell you that they have a great collection of snapshots of great 20th-century photographers that you should not miss.

Cryptoporticus

The Roman heritage of Arles goes beyond the surface, and that is why we want you to know that in Arles, you can visit the city’s bowels.

The crypts of Arles are still intact today, and you can buy your ticket to visit them and go through the different galleries used in the past for storage.

Without a doubt, a fascinating visit to the Roman city of Arles.

Street of the Roman city of Arles

The Market of Arles

As the great city of Provence that it is, Arles had to have a market. The Arles market has a big day on Saturday mornings and is two kilometers long, full of scents and colors.

On Wednesday mornings, you can also go to this market, but this time in a humbler extension but equally remarkable.

Here you can find many fresh local products such as fruits, cheeses, and honey.

Chateau d’Estoublon

If you like castles, take advantage of your visit to Arles and take a day trip to visit the Chateau d’Estoublon.

This place is a historic village close to Arles, just 22 minutes by car.

Since 1489, this town has been dedicated to agriculture and is known for the great wines and oils produced in its surroundings.

Here you can discover the richness of the products of the land, the history of the place, and the people who have inhabited the old building and have a tasting of some of the best wines of Provence.

The tour costs around 60 euros and lasts approximately 1 hour and a half.

https://chateau-estoublon.com/en/

Daudet’s Moulin

Take advantage of your departure from Arles and visit the famous Daudet mill in Fontvieille, on a beautiful hill near Chateau d’Estoublon.

You can visit this windmill. Here is the Daudet Museum, in which memorabilia of the writer is exhibited.

The mechanism of the building is also explained. But, sadly and contrary to popular belief, Alphonse Daudet did not write the “Letters from my mill” here, much less live in it.

Barbegal Aqueduct

In Roman cities, water reached the cities through aqueducts, and in Arles, you can still find remains of this engineering work that supplied the population in Roman times.

The ruins of this aqueduct are located about 12 km from the city, and it was the architect of moving a vast flour mill from the area that produced flour for the region.

In those times, this aqueduct was one of the most important in the entire Roman Empire.

Camargue National Park

If you stay in Arles for a few days, we recommend that you use one of them to visit this beautiful Natural Park that is only 14 minutes by car toward the coast.

In this natural area, you can enjoy a wonderful walk through semi-fenced land where you can see various species in semi-freedom, such as horses, bulls, and turtles.

The landscape itself is a gift that Provence gives us, decorated with its lagoons and its birds fluttering around this place. If you are lucky, you may even see flamingos in the area.

We hope that this guide to Arles will help you organize your trip to this Roman city in the south of France and that you will make the most of your visit to the Pearl of Provence.

Horses at sunset in Camargue

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