We were onboard a Viking River Cruise (click here to view our Trip Overview Page or click here to view the Viking River Cruises Avignon & Provence information) and Arles was the first stop after Avignon. The ship moved from Avignon, south to Tarascon at 5AM (approximately 30 kilometers), so that the day's tour to Arles could begin from there. The tour to Arles was via tour bus, so moving the ship closer made the bus route shorter.
The town of Arles is a community situated in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south eastern area of France. It is a coastal community and a
tourist destination, a popular seaside resort. Arles was established by the Ligurian populations during the times of the Ancient Rome and it used to serve
as an important port and commercial hub. It is possible to see the remains of the old buildings preserved since the Roman times, like the old Amphitheater,
aqueduct, and others.
Click here to go to the Arles Wikipedia page.
- The Ligurians were in the Arles area from about 800 BC. Later, Celtic influences have been discovered. The city became an important Phoenician trading port, before being taken by the Romans.
- The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981.
- Vincent van Gogh painted his famous Sunflowers in Arles.
- Arles is twinned with: Pskov, Russia; Jerez de la Frontera and Cubelles, Spain; Fulda, Germany; York, Pennsylvania, United States; Vercelli, Italy; Sagné, Mauritania; Kalymnos, Greece; Wisbech, United Kingdom; Zhouzhuang, Kunshan, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China; Verviers, Belgium & George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
- An international photography festival has been held in Arles since 1970.
- World Famous Painters Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived in Arles.
- The Population of Arles as of 2015 is 52,886.
- Arles is situated on the Camargue plain where the Rhône River divides to form its delta.
- Arles is the largest commune in France in terms of territory.
- The major French publishing house Actes Sud is also situated in Arles. It was founded in 1978 by author Hubert Nyssen.
This was our first group exploration stop. This two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city. The pronounced towers jutting out from the top are medieval add-ons.
Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d'Arles as well as plays and concerts during the summer.
Today, the Arles Roman Amphitheatre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of the enduring legacy of Roman civilization. It continues to captivate visitors with its historical significance, architectural splendor, and the cultural events it hosts, such as concerts and bullfights, making it a must-visit attraction for those interested in the rich history of the Roman Empire.
This is where (also now known as "L'espace Van Gogh" and no longer a hospital) Vincent van Gogh stayed in December 1888 & January 1889 (after he mutilated his ear). Van Gogh made several paintings of the hospital and grounds, and as you can see, the grounds are still very pretty.
Arles provided van Gogh with a wealth of artistic inspiration. The town's architecture, its people, and its landscapes all became subjects for his paintings. He painted the Rhone River flowing through the town, the cafes and shops along the streets, and the fields of sunflowers stretching as far as the eye could see.
Van Gogh's time in Arles was not without its challenges. He struggled with mental illness and loneliness, and his relationship with his fellow artist Paul Gauguin proved to be tumultuous. However, it was during this period that he produced some of his most groundbreaking and enduring works of art.
Van Gogh's time in Arles became one of his more prolific periods: he completed 200 paintings, and more than 100 drawings and watercolours.
The 50 foot obelisk in front of the building, was first erected under the Roman emperor Constantine II in the center of the spina of the Roman circus of Arles. After the circus was abandoned in the 6th century, the obelisk fell down and was broken in two parts. It was rediscovered in the 14th century and re-erected on top of a pedestal soon surmounted by a bronze globe and sun on March 26, 1676.
Back to the Viking Heimdal
We had a light snack while hoofing about Arles, because we knew that lunch aboard the ship was going to be another great meal! The tour bus returned us to the ship for lunch, and we decided to not take the optional afternoon tour to St. Remy and instead hung out and worked on further jet-lag removal (AKA "nap").
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- Arles History on the 'Britannica' Site
- Things to see & do see in Arles on the 'Crazy Tourist' Site
- The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Arles on the 'Culture Trip' site
- Google Search Results list for "Restaurants in Arles"
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- Amazon Search Results list for "Arles France"
- Youtube Search Results list for "Arles France"
- Things to do in Arles on the "Get Your Guide" site
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