Located in the Camargue, Arles is the largest municipality in France, spread out between Provence and Alpilles on more than 75,000 hectares, in a mild Mediterranean climate and bordering the Rhône. The possibilities of visits and walks are countless. Almost 2 million tourists come to visit Arles every year, both for its cultural activities and for its walks in the countryside. Painters and poets have expressed the inspiration of a stay in a city several thousand years old which is full of monuments and vestiges of a distant past. Van Gogh, Frédéric Mistral and so many others have highlighted the city so well. So what to do in Arles? Follow the guide!
Located on the banks of the Rhone, Arles was a strategic place in Roman times. In contrast to its rival Marseille, the city of Arles preserves an exceptional heritage of this era through the remains of its Ancient Theatre, the Alyscamps and the Amphitheatre. These remains come from the constructions made during the reign of Roman emperors in the first centuries of our era.
To visit these historic wonders, get the Liberty Pass issued by the Tourist Office! Once in hand, you can visit monuments of the city, as well as a museum of your choice from the list provided. You are then equipped to return to Roman times in our beautiful city of Arles.
The République square is an unmissable location, if you go to Arles. Located just 200 metres from the Best Western Atrium, the former Royal Square is the home of many monuments and buildings of different styles and eras. You will find:
If you take the direction of the Rhône from this square, you will arrive at the old baths of Constantine. They were gigantic, with three pools, and extremely popular in the roman era. The remains, very well preserved, still testify to their importance today. Also known as the Baths of the North, the Baths of Emperor Constantine I in Arles date from the beginning of the 4th century, when he lived in Arelate the old, which became Arles in the Middle Ages, capital of the kingdom of Arles. They are among the best preserved thermal baths in France.
The most visited monument in Arles, the Roman amphitheatre makes the city shine all over the world. Every year, nearly 2 million tourists come to admire this ancient monument that the Romans have left us since the first century of our era. The bullring became a fortified town in the 6th century and a city’s district in the Middle Ages. It is now restored and hosts shows open to the public.
After having served as a wall to shelter the inhabitants, the arenas have regained their original function.
The biggest restoration was carried out on the Arena, a real monumental symbol of the city. Today they serve as a venue for shows related to the culture of bullfighting, inseparable from Arles and the Camargue more generally, region of manades and horses in semi-freedom. The whole region lives on this rich culture still mixed with the culture of the Gypsies, hosts of the place. Some, famous, even settled there. It is also this local and musical art that attracts tourists and curious towards Arles and its region.
The beginning of the restoration of the Arena started from 1830 with a first bullfighting show that made it «la plaza de toro». The bullfighting season is very rich with various shows.
Arles is a city that has always attracted artists: Van Gogh and his friends Gaugin or Picasso, a bullfighting fanatic. Vincent Van Gogh, an artist who strongly influenced contemporary art, stayed in Arles for more than 14 months. It is in this city that he painted his most famous paintings before joining the asylum of St Rémy de Provence. The cut-ear painter is today greatly honored with the creation of the Van Gogh Foundation, located in the heart of the city of Arles. The museum pays tribute to Van Gogh’s famous visit to Arles but also to artists inspired by the region and the city.
City of art, Arles attracts many painters and photographers. During your stay, you can enjoy various exhibitions in temporary or permanent art galleries. Here is a non-exhaustive list of different art galleries you can visit
The Luma Arles project was launched in 2013 to create a cultural platform for research and artistic production. Luma Arles was born around the same time as the reopening of the Arles Arena. A former abandoned site of the SNCF workshops was rehabilitated at the instigation of Maja Hoffman. The main project is the Luma Tower, which has opened on June 26, 2021. Designed by Californian architect Frank Gehry, the 56-metre-high tower is near a beautiful new park.
Founded in 1970, the Rencontres d’Arles take place in Arles every summer. The opening week, which takes place the first week of July, brings together thousands of visitors. Every year, the international photography meetings offer exhibition spaces dedicated to photography. The best international photographers rush into what has become one of the most important photo festivals in the world, attracting tens of thousands of visitors. Conferences and debates accompany exhibitions and meetings between artists and producers, agencies and simple amateurs. Concerts, artistic performances or public and private evenings complete an event rich in diverse talents.
Discover the cultural wealth of this city by staying in the city center. The whole team of the Best Western Atrium hotel will be happy to guide you to have a great stay in our beautiful region.
Arles is also well known for its museums, in which painting and antiquity live alongside modern artists. The Vincent Van Gogh Foundation pays tribute to the Dutch painter and offers exhibitions and workshops to discover located on the banks of the Rhône, between the bridge of Trinquetaille and the thermal baths of Constantine. The Réattu Museum is dedicated to painter from Arles, as well as to Picasso’s drawings, photography and architecture. The Museon Arlaten, Luma or the Museum of the Camargue are still part of the rich cultural offer of Arles, among others.
Arles has so many museums that you can request a pass, of 1 month or 6 months, to visit everything. Among these museums, you will discover the Blue Museum. Located on the peninsula of the ancient Roman circus, the Musée départemental d’Arles antique has an important mosaic restoration workshop. They are among the oldest in France that were found in Arles. The museum houses Roman sarcophagi, a bust of Caesar, a copy of the Venus of Arles preserved in the Louvre, monumental statues and altars. An extension of the museum is entirely dedicated to the large river and maritime port of Arelate, in particular a barge of 31 meters discovered in the Rhône.
For more information on the city of Arles, visit the tourist office located in front of the hotel.