Afternoon sunlight, lazy drives, Côtes du Rhône, Roman ruins and Provence cuisine – a stay in Arles is a break offering the best of France blended with the romantic ruins of its Roman heritage. For travellers looking to see a window into Roman France, there is no better place to visit than the town of Arles in Provence. Dating from the 7th century BC, this ancient town still contains many ruins and medieval buildings from a bygone era of togas, aqueducts and amphitheatres. The ruins are incorporated into many of the buildings and structures around the city, and a walk down any of its main or side streets is positively dripping with history.
Today, this charming city on the banks of the Rhone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its many museums, galleries, medieval structures and ruins make it a must-see for any culture aficionado and lover of beauty. In fact, the town of Arles features heavily in the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh – a fact that led to the town being known as an artists’ retreat to this day.
Arles is very close to the Mediterranean, so enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate year long and hot, dry summers. With the variety of cultural and sightseeing activities of this beautiful and historic town, a stay in Arles is perfect for holidaying couples and those looking to experience a side of France they’ve never seen before. Best enjoyed by relaxing, eating and drinking.
Holiday in Arles
For a sample of the Roman heritage of the town, the amphitheatre is most certainly your first port of call. Built in 90AD to seat 20,000 spectators watching bloody gladiatorial combat and chariot races, today the amphitheatre plays host to bullfights as well as Le Festival Peplum in August, screening Hollywood epics. After the amphitheatre, explore any of the masses of statues, ancient buildings, ruins and aqueducts littered across town to remind you of just how great this culture and civilisation was. The Eglise St-Trophime, a Roman-Catholic cathedral dating from the 12th century, is an important example of Romanesque architecture.
Journeying into the town proper, explore its winding streets, colourful houses and stone squares to get a feel for why the town is so beloved of the impressionists. As it’s known for being where van Gogh spent his most productive years, there are many Van Gogh related sights and attractions around Arles – from the Café Van Gogh and L’Espace Van Gogh, the hospital he was treated when he cut off his ear, to the famous Langlois Bridge which he loved for its Japanese look.
From any of the scads of high quality cafes and restaurants about town, make sure to sample a glass of Nîmes wine with one of the local delicacies, Saucisson d’Arles. Traditionally made from donkey meat but now often as pork, this cured meat is best served with marinated olives and Languedoc cheeses.
Renting holiday accommodation in Arles
Given the spectacular setting of the town of Arles, it is absolutely perfect for a stay in a holiday rental. Whether you prefer a chateau in the countryside, a riverfront apartment or a funky flat in Old Town, renting a holiday home allows you to custom make your trip and enjoy it with those you want to holiday with, no one else. And there is nothing quite like being on holiday yet being able to go to the food market and create a feast in your very own kitchen.