The beautiful city of Arles in south-eastern France is steeped in history and rich with architectural gems. Its origins can be traced back to the 7th century BC when it was a Greek settlement. During Roman times, Arles was an important centre and many well-preserved ruins remind of those glorious days. The city’s ancient amphitheatre, Roman theater, remains of the Roman circus, the Baths of Constantine and the necropolis attract many visitors today.
|Roman Amphitheatre in Arles|
Arles also has many buildings dating back to medieval times. On Place de la Republique you can see the Church of Saint Trophime famous for its ornate carved doorway depicting the Final Judgement and the 13th century cloisters. From the roof gallery you can admire views over the city.
Art lovers enjoy the Arles’ connection with Vincent Van Gogh. The famous artist was attracted to the city because of its exceptional light and, although, he only spent 15 months in Arles, he painted more than 300 masterpieces. Many visitors enjoy following the Van Gogh Trail to see the scenes of the artist's famous paintings that he created during his stay in the city.
Another artist who spent some time in Arles was Pablo Picasso, who came here because of the city’s Van Gogh connection and the famous bullfights in the Camargue area. In 1971, Picasso donated 57 of his paintings to the the Musée Réattu housed in a beautiful Renaissance building where they can be admired today along with a fine collection of contemporary art as well as works by Provençal artists from the 18th-19th centuries.
The relaxed Provençal atmosphere of Arles with its leafy squares and outdoor cafés is a big draw in itself. There are many great restaurants in the city serving delicious local dishes. During spring and summer Arles hosts many interesting festivals. From Easter to September “Feria Corridas” takes place with bullfighting and bloodless “course camarguaise” bull spectacles organised in the Roman arena. In July, during the festival “Fête du Costume” hundreds of locals dress up in historic costumes and children parade through the old centre with torchlights.
Photos via Flickr by: Ming-yen Hsu, Jacqueline Poggi, Max Guitare.