Things to Do in Arles
The city’s popularity with artists was cemented by the work of one-time resident Van Gogh, whose enchantment with the region led to many of his most famous works being painted within the year he spent there. Now-legendary pieces like Starry Night over the Rhône, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, The Red Vines and Sunflowers were all inspired by the luminous vistas of Arles. A walking tour of Van Gogh’s Arles, including the sites of his former homes and the hospital where he was treated after famously cutting off his ear, is a popular undertaking for art lovers.
There are plenty of other things to do in Arles, too – visit the exquisite Cathédrale St-Trophime; join local shoppers in Provence’s largest Saturday food market in the city centre; stroll the idyllic riverside promenade; or time your visit for one of the many annual festivals and seasonal bullfights held in the atmospheric amphitheater.
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Arles is often called the ‘soul of Provence’, a photogenic city with a history stretching back 2,500 years and crammed with Roman remains; their extent indicate the importance of the city in Roman times – thanks to its position on the navigable River Rhône – and include an arena, theater and bath complexes. Arles fell from importance around 480 AD but by medieval times was once more a power to be reckoned with, as is proven by the city’s Romanesque masterpiece church of St-Trophime. The priceless collection of Roman artifacts discovered in the region are housed in the sleek, cobalt-blue triangular Museum of Antiquity, designed by Henri Ciriani and opened in 1995.
Among its treasures, the museum displays a large collection of antiquities, including monumental Roman sculptures, pagan and Christian art and several stunning mosaics.
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