Arles Tourist Attractions
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.
The Roman amphitheater of Arènes is the largest and most complete ancient monument in the town of Arles, dating probably from early in the A.D. first century. The great oval once had accommodation for 21,000 spectators. With a length of 136m/149yd and a width of 107m/117yd the arena was one of the largest in Gaul. The facade has a double row of arcades with 60 archways each 3.38m/11ft wide; the four arches used as main entrances are 4.80m/16ft wide.Seating for the spectators was once on 34 rows of tiered steps; the arena itself was built into the bedrock of the site. In Roman times a wooden floor was provided over the rock; the holes in which the supporting joists were fixed can still be seen in the wall surrounding the arena.In the Middle Ages the citizens converted the amphitheater into a fortress by the addition of towers and the walling up of the arcades, of which there were originally three rows; the third no longer exists. When Prosper Mérimée cleared and restored the arena 150 years ago three of the towers were left standing. The one over the entrance can be climbed and from it there is a charming view over the roofs of the Old Town and of the nearby ancient theater. Nowadays in summer bull-fights take place in the arena.
Van Gogh Foundation
The Fondation Vincent van Gogh was installed in 1984 in the Palais de Luppé in Arles. Many famous artists, painters, photographers, writers and composers paid homage to van Gogh, and there are exhibits and documents covering his life on display. Thus his dream of a "House of the Artist" has been realized.
Address: 26 Rond-Point des Arenes, France
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Jun 30: 10am-6pm
Jul 1 to Sep 30: 10am-7pm
Oct 1 to Nov 30: 10am-6pm
Dec 1 to Mar 31: 11am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Jul 1 to Sep 30: 10am-7pm
Oct 1 to Nov 30: 10am-6pm
Dec 1 to Mar 31: 11am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €7.00, Students €5.00, Child 11 & under FREE
The Roman theater in Arles is located in Rue de la Calade/Rue du Cloître; opening times are the same as those for the Arènes.It was built in the time of Augustus and, with seating for 8,000 on 33 tiers of steps, was as large as the theater in Orange. In the early Middle Ages the theater was used as a quarry, and with the material it provided the town wall was erected. Of the rear wall of the stage only a few stumps of pillars and two more or less complete columns remain. Since the theater is now used again during the summer it is protected on the outside by screens and the interior is somewhat spoiled by the necessary technical apparatus.Most of the relics brought to light during excavation can be seen in the Musée d'Art Païen - the most important of these is the "Venus of Arles", a representation of the goddess Diana, which was discovered near a fountain in 1651 and is now in the Louvre in Paris.
Place de la République
The Place de la République in Arles has an Egyptian obelisk 15m/50ft high. It was found in the amphitheater and erected here in 1676.On the north side of the square stands the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) built in 1673-75. Its bell-tower dates from 1553 and came from the building which previously stood on the site.
Museum of Pagan Art
In Arles, the Musée d'Art Paën (Museum of Pagan Art) or Musée Lapidaire (lapidarium) is located opposite St Trophime in the former Church of Ste Anne (1630). It exhibits works of the Roman Age and especially of Hellenism. Most of the exhibits come from the Roman theater, the former Forum and other ancient buildings in Arles.
Museum of Arles
The Museon Arlaten was founded in 1899 by the famous Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral. The Palais de Laval-Castellane, in which it is housed, is built on the remains of an ancient basilica, and was first a nobleman's palace and then a Jesuit college. Mistral, a Nobel Prize winner of 1904, donated the amount of his prize to create in his native region a permanent museum. It is now the most important collection of Provençal folk art, displaying furniture, costumes, ceramics, tools and farming implements.
The Forum, the market and meeting-place of the Roman town, was situated on the south side of the present-day Place du Forum. The best-preserved part is known as the "Cryptoporticus" (crypto doorway ca. 40 B.C.), a horseshoe-shaped loggia 89m/97yd by 59m/65yd in extent, built probably to compensate for the slope of the site. Entrance is from the Musée d'Art Chrétien.
Museum of Christian Art
In Arles, the Musée d'Art Chrétien lies a short distance northwest of the Musée Lapidaire on Rue Balze. Housed in the chapel of the former Jesuit college which was built in 1652, it possesses one of the most important collections of Early Christian sarcophagi from the fourth century; many of them come from the Necropolis of the Alyscamps and from the Early Christian burial place of St Genest in the present-day suburb of Trinquetaille. The sarcophagi are decorated with reliefs showing scenes from the Old and New Testaments.The "Cryptoporticus", a partly subterranean arcade of the ancient Forum, can be reached from the museum.
Thermes de Constantin
The Thermes de Constantin (Baths of Constantine), the Roman bathing complex, dates from the A.D. fourth century and is situated on Rue D. Maisto in the north of the town near the arm of the river called the "Grand Rhône". Of the once-extensive series of buildings, which resembled a palace, only the Caldarium (warm bath) and parts of the Hypocaust (underfloor heating) and the Tepidarium (warm air room) remain.
The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853- 90) spent 15 productive months in Arles in 1888-89. The artist - together with Cézanne and Gauguin one of the main pioneers of modern painting - lived in this former hospital for a time, and included it in several of his paintings. The 16th C. building has been made into a cultural center and equipped as a "School of Books".
Pont de Langlois
The Pont de Langlois, which once stood at the end the avenue du Plan-du-Bourg and was made famous by van Gogh, no longer exists. The drawbridge in rue G. Monge, which is often referred to as the Pont de Langlois, is some 2km/1.2 mi from the "genuine article" and is a later copy.
The Musée Réattu in Arles, housed in a 15th/16th C. building on rue G. Monge which was once the Grand Priory of the Knights of Malta, stemmed from the collection of the painter Réattu (1760-1833) and exhibits drawings and paintings by Provençal artists of the 18th and 19th C., as well as a collection of contemporary art, largely owing to the generosity of Pablo Picasso. In addition to the gallery of photographs by Lucien Clergue and others, the drawings by Picasso himself make this friendly little museum particularly interesting; in the main they are portraits with the faces wreathed in loving or amused smiles, evidence of the humanity and sense of humor of the artist.
In Arles, along the Avenue des Alyscamps, on the southeastern edge of the Old Town, stretch the Alyscamps (the "Elysian Fields"), an extensive Roman burial place which, according to the legend of St Trophime, was dedicated as a Christian cemetery and, in the Middle Ages, was so famous that the dead were brought here for burial from considerable distances; Dante refers to it in his "Inferno". This led to the curious procedure of bringing the dead - in cleverly designed barrels together with a sum of money - along the Rhône to Arles, where they were fished out of the water by people employed for the purpose and duly interred. Their marble sarcophagi, which were later neglected, sold or destroyed, were not assembled again until the 18th C. Along the idyllic Allée des Tombeaux (Street of Graves), the only coffins now standing are the plain stone ones of the Middle Ages; the best ones are housed in the museums, especially in the Musée d'Art Chrétien, and in the Church of St Trophime. At the end of the Allée stands the Church of St-Honorat (12th C.), the only remains of which are the choir and the adjoining 15th-18th C. chapels. In the side-chapel on the left will be found a beautiful sarcophagus dating from the fourth century A.D.
Fête des Gardians
This annual May Day festival begins with a parade of guardians - men of the Camargue who herd wild horses. Other folk customs, music and traditions are also showcased during the festival.
Fontvieille is a district within the principality of Monaco. A 222,000sq.m/265,500sq.yd area was laid down and protected from the sea by a dam 30m/98ft deep in order to create the district of Fontvieille. To the west, underneath the rock, on which the old town rises, is the newly laid-out Port de Fontvieille. Behind the harbor the Stade Louis II was opened in 1985, a modern sports stadium with 20,000 roofed seats and the home of the Monaco football club.
Map of Arles Attractions