Arles, a city on the Rhône River in southern France, is famed for inspiring Van Gogh's paintings. It also houses many Roman ruins, including the Arles Amphitheatre (les Arènes d'Arles), now hosting plays, concerts and bullfights.
The town's marketplace, Le Marche d'Arles, is bustling and colorful as you would expect. You can buy fresh produce, native delicacies and more.
1. Place du Forum
The Place du Forum was the centre of social, political and religious life in Roman Arles. Now it buzzes with energy thanks to the cafes that line its streets and is a hot spot for people watching.
The place also features a shady park and is home to one of the city's most popular hotels, the Nord Pinus. Its restaurant is called L'Atelier and is the baby of Michelin star chef Jean-Luc Rabanel.
The Forum is a must-see for visitors and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can find some amazing Roman ruins here and you can buy a multi-site pass for some of them.
2. Place de la Rotonde
Arles is an exciting city that boasts ancient Roman ruins as well as a 12th century church. You can also visit the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh in the city.
This square is a central meeting point for both visitors and locals in the heart of historic Arles. It is a great place to watch the world go by.
It is also a great spot to enjoy a drink. The Rotonde, which is situated in the Trinite d’Estienne d’Orves square, serves a range of delicious drinks, including coffee and ice cream.
3. Eglise Saint-Trophime
A beautiful Romanesque cathedral with stunning sculptures and an ornate doorway, Eglise Saint-Trophime is a must-see in Arles. The cloisters adjacent to the church are also worth visiting, as they are a lovely addition to this historic building.
The twelfth-century north gallery features a barrel-vault ceiling and Romanesque sculptures depicting scenes from Easter and the glorification of the city’s patron saints. The later, fourteenth-century south and west galleries contain a series of carved support columns that depict biblical stories.
Another popular site in Arles is Les Alyscamps, a suburban cemetery that reflects the town’s ancestry as a major aristocratic burial site. You can see tombs from ancient times and even one that dates back to 241 BC!
4. Roman Theater
The Roman Theater is a spectacular UNESCO site and it's an excellent place to spend a few hours. This ancient theatre was built in the 1st century and could hold up to 8,000 people.
It is still a popular venue for different musical events and bullfights during summer.
Just a few metres along the street is another Roman site, the Amphitheatre, which was built in 90 AD and modelled on the Colosseum. It could originally hold 21,000 but now holds only 12,000 thanks to a lot of modern, comfortable and safety conscious seating.
5. Museum of Jacques Reattu
A hidden gem of Arles, Musee Reattu is an impressive art museum with a stunning collection. It showcases striking sculptures and captivating paintings.
It is a must see for art lovers as it has great examples of medieval art, contemporary art and sound art.
Originally built in the 15th century as a Grand Priory for the Knights of Malta, it was purchased by local artist Jacques Reattu who used it as his studio and residence.
After his death, Reattu's daughter Elisabeth Grange donated the building and its collections to the city of Arles. Now it is a museum that pays tribute to the painter.
6. Fondation Vincent Van Gogh
If you want to see something truly unique in Arles, a visit to the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh is a must. The art gallery is dedicated to the Post-Impressionist painter who was a huge influence on the likes of Francis Bacon and David Hockney.
The museum is housed in a converted hotel, which has been transformed by the Avignon-based firm Fluor into a state of the art exhibition space. In addition to its main collection, the Foundation also hosts temporary thematic modern art exhibitions.