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…
So many beautiful places to choose and explore in Provence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.