Déjà’-vu is not an uncommon feeling even on ones first visit to Arles. As you meander the winding streets and find yourself at the foot of the colorful houses and enjoy a cafe in the squares, it is as if you have wandered into a painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

This captivating city perched on the Grand Rhône River bears the footprints of previous occupants, During the Bronze Age it was a Celtic settlement before becoming a Greek colony then in 49 BC the Romans settled in and its prosperity and political standing soared when the powers of the day backed Julius Caesar. Caesar had never experience defeat throughout his illustrious career. Marseille had made the error of not supporting Caesar choosing to back Pompey the Great. For this error in judgment, Marseille was seized and pillaged. It cost them the power that is associated with being the region’s major port.

Along with power came growth and within the next century it accumulated both an amphitheatre which would seat 20,000 and a 12,000 seat theatre. The citizens were invited to partake in the entertainment of the day which included chariot races and contests among the gladiators. Amazingly, these two structures are still intact and in use. However, the gruesome sports of the past have been replaced by events such bullfighting (in France, the bull is not killed) and concerts. Regardless of the change in what is offered there is still the air of excitement when the season begins again each spring. The venues are packed with locals and tourists alike.

 While Arles was memorably rendered by one-time resident Vincent van Gogh. Sad to say, not one of the 200-odd canvases Vincent painted here, in just over a year, remains in Arles, but the town has made him a starring attraction nonetheless. From the re-creation of his bedroom to exhibitions in the former hospital where he had his ear stitched up, there’s a whole lot of Vincent to enjoy. Don’t miss the Van Gogh trail, a walking tour of sites where the artist set up his easel to paint canvases such as Starry Night.




16 thoughts on “Arles

  1. I love reading your words… “you have wandered into a painting by Vincent Van Gogh” . Some days I wish I could live in your jacket pocket, peeking through the button hole or just over the pockets edge into the worlds you traverse… Beautiful!

    1. Thank you. You are on the right path as I often feel like I am in a Van Gogh painting! There is a caveat and I shall warn you. Once you get here, you might not want to leave. 🙂

      1. That may not be such a bad thing! lol Someday I want to get lost on cobble stone streets, linger in arched ways that have seen a thousand souls linger beneath it, and sit beneath ancient trees with friends sipping cafe’. 🙂 ::warm thoughts of far away places::

      2. This is the place for such things. Just let me know when you arrive! 🙂 The chateau behind my house is over a thousand years old and there is so much more…

    1. Thanks! It means a lot to have such kind comments. When you arrive in France make sure you have plenty of time to see it all. 🙂

  2. Lovely blog, and I share your love and enjoyment of Arles. However, it isn’t true that bulls are not killed during bullfights in France. True, the courses Camarguaises just “play” with the heifers and bullocks, but they do still hold corridas where the bulls are put to death. 😦

    That is the only reason I would not choose to live in Arles.

    Amities. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the correction. I am not a fan of bull fighting or any other such activity and had relied on sources that appear to have been in error. I shall have to delve into it more.
      Other than that, I do adore Arles and the rest of my adopted country.
      Thanks for stopping by and bringing this to my attention.

      1. Lea, I had much the same impression from what I had read. But when we were in Arles a few years ago we went to watch the local Courses Camarguaises. We met several charming men there who were delighted that we English had come to watch their sport. They hoped we would return next day, when they would kill the bulls. I can’t get my head around sophisticated and couth people being involved in an activity that I find inhumane and abhorrent. I think corridas are limited to the south of France now. Hopefully, one day they will vanish entirely. I look forward to reading more about your life in the south of France. 🙂

      2. So we have both been mis-informed and then corrected. Perhaps it depends where you are in the country? There are bull fighters coming through here each year for 14 July and they do a few shows. The bull is never harmed. Perhaps there is no one answer? Regardless, I do like to have the correct information for any readers coming my way and thank you for reminding me to check several sources not just a few. I will be glad to have you checking in when you have a chance. Now I must go take a look at your work. 🙂
        If you go back to earlier posts, there are a few from places like Mont Saint Michele. There will be further ones outside the area in the future as well.

      3. If you Google “corridas in France”, you may be surprised (I’m horrified). I’m following your blog, so I’ll be checking regularly on your posts. 🙂

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