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Arles History in and Beyond the Streets

A Magical Place

Inside the ancient ramparts, the old streets meander, some broad, some narrow, some bright, some muted – each one has a story to tell. Heather Robinson is an American by birth, but Arles is now in her soul. She brings the city to life with tales of characters and places, of patinas and cornerstones. After a couple of hours on Heather’s “Lost in Arles” walking tour of the old city, you cannot help but yearn for more of mysterious Arles.

Arles #Arles #ExploreProvence @PerfProvence

Professional photographers, students and fans flock to Arles every year for the Recontres d’Arles that runs from early July through September. The annual theme of this image-based event changes, but the creativity is almost guaranteed to impress.

Arles cloister #Arles #ExploreProvence @PerfProvence

Home to Vincent Van Gogh for a period, you can walk by places that he painted including Café Van Gogh (current name), l’Espace Van Gogh (a former hospital) and the contemporary tribute to the man – Fondation Van Gogh.

Espace Van Gogh #Arles #ExploreProvence @PerfProvence

Worth seeing are the Arlesian women in their finery, read more about these traditional costumes here.

Early September is a time for celebration in the streets of Arles with the annual tribute to the harvest (Feria du Riz) and the bulls from the Camargue (inspired some of Picasso’s work).

Alyscamps #Arles #ExploreProvence @PerfProvence

Take a break from the old city and explore Alyscamps, Arles’ main burial ground for almost 1,500 years. During Roman times, it was believed that the living and the dead existed in different worlds. Burials were not permitted within city limits, and so roads on the outskirts of significant settlements were often lined with tombstones. Alyscamps is located just outside the walls of the ancient town though it would have certainly been a world apart from the lively productions held in those buildings.

Saint Maur Monastery #Montmajour Abbey #ExploreProvence @PerfProvence

A short drive from Arles is the Abbey of Montmajour, do stop for a self-guided visit. This reconstructed abbey joined the list of France’s historical monuments in 1840. There are unproven legends related to the initial history of this location, the one that is the most believable is that it was an ancient burial ground.

Arles Visitor Information:

Fondation Van Gogh (website)
35 ter, rue du Docteur-Fanton
13200 Arles
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 93 08 08
Closed on Mondays

Avenue des Alyscamps,
13200 Arles
Open daily

Rencontres d’Arles (website)
34 Rue du Docteur-Fanton
13200 Arles
Daily from the beginning of July through the end of September

Tourism Office (website)
9 Boulevard des Lices
13200 Arles
Open daily with seasonal changes in hours

Additional reading:

Arles the Roman City: Discovering the Roman Barge and Other Treasures

The Secrets of Arles My Unforgettable Visit to Provence


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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).


  1. February 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    The original buildings of the Abbey of Montmajour are built directly on an enormous rock. This forms a high point in the area, vital when the Abbey was first built and was surrounded by marshes. These have now been drained but you can get an idea of how formidable the place was centuries ago.

    • February 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm — Reply

      Yes, we love the Abbey of Montmajour. A couple years ago Christian Lacroix did a special exhibition called “Mon île de Montmajour.” It was terrific.

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