Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Arles
The ancient town of Arles lies on the Rhône south of the point where the river divides into two arms - the Grand Rhône to the east and the Petit Rhône to the west - and flows through the Camargue, with its ponds and lakes, before entering the Mediterranean.
Impressive Roman and medieval historical monuments serve as a reminder of its great past.
Arlath (the "town in the marsh") was originally a Greek settlement, from 46 B.C. a Roman colony and competed with Massilia (Marseilles) as a port. Quite early in its history it had a Christian community and was the venue in 314 for the first Council of the Roman Empire in the West. In 406 the city was the seat of the Roman Civil Government for the whole of Gaul. From the 10th century it belonged to the Kingdom of Burgundy (Arelate) and later to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1481 it and Provence fell to France.
The painter van Gogh resided here in 1888-89; the famous "Bridge of Arles" in his picture no longer exists, and Arles possesses none of his works.
Today Arles extends over 750sq.km/290sq.mi and in area is the largest commune in France, Paris being only 105sq.km/41sq.mi.
The beauty of the maidens of Arles was immortalized by Georges Bizet in his two-part concert suite "L'Arlésienne", from the music written in 1872 for the drama of the same name by Alphonse Daudet.