Arles and Van Gogh

Culture

This tour is centred around the ancient city of Arles, founded 2,500 years ago. A busy day ahead awaits during which you'll get to visit seven landmarks where Van Gogh came to find inspiration, including the Langlois Bridge and the Alyscamps. At the Espace Van Gogh, soak up the special atmosphere of the Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital. The Fondation Van Gogh, meanwhile, will show you the influence the Dutch painter has had on contemporary artists. For lunch look no further than the highly rated A Côté Le Bistro before visiting Montmajour Abbey.

The Espace Van Gogh, a great introduction

Place Du Docteur Félix Rey 13200 Arles

Commence your day in Arles at the Espace Van Gogh, set in a former hospital for the poor and needy built in the 16th and 17th centuries, and its stunning gardens open to the public. The painter was admitted here in 1888 where they treated him after the episode during which he cut off a part of his ear. Today the centre houses a media library, exhibition room and university centre.

The Fondation Vincent Van Gogh

35ter Rue Dr Fanton 13200 Arles

Next make your way to Rue Dr Fanton where the Fondation Van Gogh is based. Renovated in 2014, the centre boasts 1,000 sq.m of exhibition space where you can stand and contemplate many of the painter's own works as well as contemporary pieces inspired by the Dutch painter. The building is worth a detour alone to see the entrance gates designed by Bertrand Lavier and the multi-coloured glass ceiling, a permanent installation created by Raphael Hefti.

Relax on a terrace at Place du Forum

Place Du Forum 13200 Arles

Next get a feel for the place at Place du Forum, a square which Vincent Van Gogh regularly frequented and where he set up his easel to paint the surrounding terraces. Seated at Le Soir, it's easy to let your mind wander and imagine what it must have been like in Van Gogh's day. Look out for the statue of Frédéric Mistral, the region's famous poet and defender of the Provençal language, which sits on this ancient market square.

A Michelin-starred lunch by chef J.L. Rabanel

21 Rue Des Carmes 13200 Arles

For lunch head to the bistro A Côté and be prepared to be wowed by its Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc Rabanel. A fantastic opportunity to enjoy simple, traditional cuisine with modern, creative flare, all without breaking the bank. Already recognised by the world of gastronomy (2 toques from Gault & Millau), this is a place you can't afford to miss!

Calm and serenity at Montmajour Abbey

Route De Fontvieille 13200 Arles

To end your tour we suggest a visit to Montmajour Abbey on the island of the same name just 15 minutes away on the 29 bus from Arles town centre. There are plenty of buildings to see, such as the cloister, several chapels, Notre-Dame Church, the tower and the monastery, all added over the centuries. This incredible monument also hosts some wonderful art exhibitions.

Can't-miss experiences

  • Walking around Place de la République to admire the obelisk and the town hall
  • Seeing the drawings by Picasso on display at the Réattu Museum, a former priory which once belonged to the Order of St. John
  • Step back into ancient times by visiting the amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and the Constantin baths

We love

  • Following in the footsteps of Van Gogh and imagining him walking through the garden of the former town hall when he was convalescing
  • Seeing ancient ruins up close at the Roman necropolis
  • Dining on gourmet fare at reasonable prices at the bistro A Côté

The best time to visit

  • In April or September to experience the atmosphere of the Feria festival
  • From July to September to visit the Rencontres d'Arles, the international photography festival (the photography equivalent of Cannes!)
  • In summer to watch the gladiator combats at the amphitheatre
  • In November for a chance to visit the santon or Provence Prestige fairs long after the summer crowds have left
  • Theme

    Culture

  • Duration

    1 day

  • Transport means

    On foot, By public transport

  • Visited cities

  • Ideal for

    All year round

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Istres by Ma cigale est fantastique

The "Porte d’Arles" gives us direct access to the historical centre, which is well worth a visit. I suggest starting by the Tourist Office. This decidedly contemporary building reflects the spirit of the town at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. We will do a little shopping and then take a cultural and gourmet break. We will take a quiet stroll in the Etang de l’olivier gardens before going the other side to the Etang de Berre for a bite to eat.

Camargue, countryside and coast

Begin your trip at Pont de Gau Park in Saintes-Maries set within the Camargue Nature Reserve. By foot, on horse-back or by canoe, you can birdwatch to your heart's content in this unspoilt and well-preserved nature area. Invigorated, take a breather on the beautiful sand at Crin Blanc beach. For your second day, head to Arles for a spot of recreational fishing or a nature walk at La Capelière. After being totally immersed in the lives of the 'gardians' (Camargue herdsmen) at the Jacques Bon stud farm, watch the splendid sunset on the horizon in Arles.

In the Alpilles, Les Baux, Saint-Rémy and more

A day suffices to see the main sites in the Alpilles. Don't miss the ancient town of Glanum with its Roman ruins and Saint-Sixte Chapel. The Carrières de Lumières is worth a visit for its original and captivating audiovisual displays. Then step foot in the legendary Château des Baux and find a table at La Reine Jeanne to enjoy refined dishes made with fresh, local produce. Your tour ends at the oil mills, vital links in the production chain for AOP Baux-de-Provence olive oil.

Inspirations

The Pastis

The Pastis

Tradition

From the plate to the glass, Pastis is always prepared with taste…

Lights, Camera, Action! Provence and the Movies

Lights, Camera, Action! Provence and the Movies

The history of cinema in Provence dates back many years. And similarly to the region's artistic hall of fame, it was inspired by light...

As you may know, the very first moving picture was screened by the Lumière brothers ('Lumière' meaning 'light') on September 21st, 1895 in La Ciotat.

Provence's markets

Provence's markets

Terroir

A fertile region with many local products and specialities

Fashion

Fashion

Lifestyle

Provence "à la mode"