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Impressively ancient, Arles was founded by the Greeks and popular with the Romans, who made it the central port of Roman Gaul. The Roman love for Arles shows in the great civic buildings they bequeathed to the city - many of them still standing today. Yet today the ancient amphitheatre, once home to gladiators, knows gladiators of a different kind - bullfighters! And some of the other historic buildings have been converted into some of the best places to stay in Arles.
As well as the beautiful buildings, Arles is surrounded by the untamed wilds of the Camargue and the lush route of the Rhone, so the views are postcard perfect.
The combination of natural and man made beauty of Arles has meant it has also been well loved by artists: Van Gogh stayed here with his friend Gauguin, and there's a Van Gogh trail: a marked walking route through the artist's city, with plaques at the spots where he set up his easel to paint. Including 'The Night Cafe' and 'Starry Night Over the Rhone'. Picasso was a regular visitor during bullfighting festivals.
These days ferias (bull runs or fights) are held alongside many other cultural festivals in Arles, and the region is becoming a respected centre of photography. Arles has always been a cultural hub, at it's Roman peak, the wealthy citizens of Arles would have been living the sun drenched high life. As well as beautiful baths, temples and streets, the people of Arles had plenty of entertainment. The 12,000 seat Théâtre Antique would have held all the latest dramas, and 20,000 seat amphitheatre held the chariot races and gladiatorial displays.
The Place du Forum is still one of the main hubs of the city, a great place from which to do some people watching. And below it is the Cryptoporticus, the vast storehouses of Roman Arles. For the best places to stay in Arles there are good options both in and outside the old city walls where you will find the Camargue, with its ancient gypsy traditions, famous white horses and birdwatching opportunities beckon…
Arles City Break
- For a quick getaway the L'Hotel Particulier ticks all the boxes. Occupying a grand mansion, originally built by the Mayor of Arles, it's discreetly hidden in a maze of back streets. It has two wings, one with contemporary styling, the other more traditional,
The Best Places to Stay in Arles for Something Special
- Once owned by a cabaret dancer and a tightrope-walking clown, the Grand Hotel Nord-Pinus is our selection if you fancy something theatrical. Picasso and Cocteau were fans, as have been many famous bullfighters. The decor is Moorish, and a bohemian atmosphere still lingers.
The Best Places to Stay in Arles for Families
- The Hotel Spa le Calendal is right next to the Roman amphitheatre - some rooms look directly onto it. Decorated in colourful, Provencal style the hotel has comfortable communal areas and family suites.
- The Hotel de l'Ampitheatre is just around the corner, a sympathetically and elegantly modified building with smaller double rooms starting from £59 per night.
So many beautiful places to choose and explore in Provence.
Best Hotels in Arles
Hotel du Forum 38 rooms from $73Arles
An elegant townhouse in the centre of Arles. Traditionally dressed rooms are filled with antique furniture and feature large sash windows and chintz fabrics. An atmospheric bar, complete with billiard table, is a great spot for enjoying an evening tipple. Well priced and placed for city exploring.Local exploring - Well located in the heart of the Old Town with many sights within walking distance.Sights nearby - Visit the famed Arles Amphitheatre.Swimming Pool - Outdoor pool.Full of character
Hotel de L'Amphithéâtre 33 rooms from $93Arles
Large rooms in a great location, elegantly decorated at unbeatable prices. Full of character, the interiors are littered with antique features and personal touches. No restaurant but within easy walking distance of many of Arles' finest. Perfect for a budget break of local exploring.Value chic - Charming hotel, right in the heart of Arles, with 18th century details and antique furnishings and a leafy patio.Sights nearby - Just around the corner from the ancient Amphitheatre, where you can still watch performances and plays.Great walks - Wander the streets of Arles, this ancient town is packed with monuments and sights to explore.Full of characterRecommended by - Fodors
Hôtel du Cloître 19 rooms from $99Arles
Van Gogh's artistic influence in Arles has certainly had some bearing on this refreshing, modern hotel. The quirky design makes for charming rooms, decorated with modern art and funky colour schemes. For something a bit different in Arles, this is the one for you.Local exploring - In the heart of the city, perfect for exploring the historic centre of Arles by foot or by bike.Sights nearby - Five minutes walk from the famous Roman amphitheatre of Arles.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.Full of character
Hotel Jules César 52 rooms from $168Arles
A former 17th century Carmelite convent, the Jules César has recently been refurbished and decorated by Christian Lacroix. Guests can take advantage of the fabulous gourmet restaurant, outdoor pool, the lounges, spa and fitness centre or perhaps the bar. A luxury hotel with decadent bedrooms.Sights nearby - Historic Roman gladiatorial display site at Les ArènesOther Activities - Theatre at Théâtre AntiqueCycling - Enjoy Arles by bikeGreat walks - Van Gogh trail
Hôtel Spa le Calendal 38 rooms from $145Arles
A charming hotel and spa in central Arles, next to the Amphitheater. The pretty rooms boast bright Provencal decor, exposed stone walls and beams and wonderful views. A hearty breakfast is served in the lush gardens, to prepare for a day exploring the town on foot from this prime location.Swimming Pool - Large spa plunge pool.Local markets - The market in Arles on a Saturday has a reputation among tourists as being one of the top markets in Europe.Sights nearby - A three minute walk from the Roman amphitheaters of Les Arènes d'Arles, the towns main tourist attraction.Views - Views of the Roman amphitheatre.
Grand Hôtel Nord-Pinus 26 rooms from $198Arles
Quirky townhouse hotel frequented by bullfighters, cabaret dancers, artists and writers, in central Arles. Elegantly restored to retain its original character with a few Moorish touches. You can still imagine Picasso or Hemingway at the bohemian salon bar. Romance and history combined.Romantic Break - This historic hotel is steeped in romance from its exposure to artists of the highest caliber for generationsSights nearby - Visit the 1,600 years old amphitheatre were bullfights are still held on Easter and in the second week of September.Great walks - There are a range of walking tours around the town, a particularly interesting one is the Van Gogh tour.Birdwatching - One of the last towns on the Rhone, wander down its banks and you'll spot a multitude of birds.Recommended by - I Escape, Fodors
L'Hôtel Particulier 17 rooms from $302Arles
Very elegant boutique hotel in a classical mansion. A mix of contemporary and traditional decor in two wings, from sleek monochrome to period furniture. A small pool sits pretty in front of the property. A small but perfectly formed spa and hammam. The bar provides light meals. An excellent choice.City Style - A grown up and elegant choice- fragrant lemon trees dripping in fruit, oversized artworks, antique dressers and fantastic spa.Local exploring - Set in the cultural capital of Provence, Arles, within striking distance of all the main sights and attractions.Birdwatching - Bring a pair of binoculars and go birding in the Camargue, with over 400 species from flamingo to egret and heron.Sights nearby - Check out the 1600 years old historic amphitheatre where bull fights and ferias take place at Easter.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet