ARLES AND THE CAMARGUE
Arles has a history that reachs back well over 2000 years, and is also home to the Camargue, a nature park extending over 930 square km.The region is ideal for relaxing, but Arles also has a huge tradition of festivals.The nearest international airport is Marseille, and there is a shuttle from the airport to Arles, as well as several options for car hire. Arles is also on the TGV (high speed train) route from Paris.To make the most of the area car hire is recommended.
Top Attractions in Arles and the Camargue
Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments
Arles has such a large amount of ancient monuments, that a group of them were classed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1981. The group includes among others ; the Amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus ( a kind of underground tunnel) from the first century BC in addition to the Constantine baths and the necropolis of Alyscamps which date from the 4th century.
The Rencontres d'Arles
An annual summer photography festival which runs from July to september, and features work from up and coming photographers, as well as work from big nams such as David Bailey. Often the exhibits and attractions are held in buildings not normally open to the public.
Arles Museum of Antiquity (Musée de l'Arles antique)
The museum houses some amazing pieces including a reconstructed model of the Barbegal aqueduct and mill, an enormous 16 wheel flourmill situated just outside Arles. There is also the bust found at the bottom of the Rhone river in 2008, and reputed to be that of Julius Ceasar dating from 46BC. A magnificant museum, not to be missed.
The Church of St. Trophime
A superb example of a romanesque church, which was a cathedral up until the bishops left Arles in the 1800's. The church is packed with incredible sculptured features and has a sarcophagus from Roman times.
Espace Van Gogh
Espace Van Gogh – A museum dedicated to the painters work
Built in the first century the Ampitheatre is the symbol of Arles, and the venue for numerous activities, such as bull fights and festivals
Camargue regional park and nature reserve
No trip to the region would be complete without visiting the Camargue with its miles and miles of salt marshes, spectacular light, pink flamingos, and wild camargais horses. It is truly a magical place, classified as an important bird area and protected since the early 1900's. The Camargue museum tells the story of how man has worked the area from the 1800's up to now.
Mid July every year Saintes-Maries de la Mer hosts the amazing Feria du cheval – the festival of horses. This is a vibrant mix of horses , bulls and gipsy music which will pull you deep into the traditions of the region.
If you decide to take a horse ride tour in the Camargue, make sure that you choose a recommended company, there are unfortunately some less than scrupulous companies that treat their horses awfully. Make sure that you pick a centre that has agreement from the French Federation of Horseriding (fédération française d’équitation).