Workaday Arles is not a wealthy city, and compared to its neighbors Avignon and Nîmes, it feels unpolished and even a little dirty. But to me, that's part of its charm. Though largely destroyed by WWII bombs, today Arles thrives again, with its evocative Roman ruins, an eclectic assortment of museums, made-for-ice-cream pedestrian zones, and squares that play hide-and-seek with visitors.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Roman Arena This big amphitheater, once used by gladiators, today hosts summer “bullgames” and occasional bullfights.
▲▲ Ancient History Museum Filled with models and sculptures, this museum takes you back to Arles’ Roman days.
▲▲ Forum Square Lively, café-crammed square that was once the Roman forum.
▲▲ St. Trophime Church Church with exquisite Romanesque entrance.
▲ Arlaten Folk Museum Shares the treasures and pleasures of Provençal life from the 18th and 19th centuries. (Closed for renovation until at least 2018.)
▲ Fondation Van Gogh Small gallery with works by major contemporary artists paying homage to Van Gogh.
Cryptoporticos Underground support structure for Roman forum.
Classical Theater Ruined Roman theater, recently restored and still used for events.
Baths of Constantine Remains of Arles' Roman public baths.
Réattu Museum Decent, mostly modern art collection in a fine 15th-century mansion.
La Roquette District Arles’ little-visited western fringe, with cafés, bakeries, and bistros.