Essential Arles

Not to be missed - Cruise

Get ready for an unforgettable day in one of Provence's absolute treasures. First exploring the majestic ancient ruins in Arles which draws in visitors from around the world each year. Onwards next to the Church of St. Trophime and Montmajour Abbey, stunning architectural gems in this Camarguais city. Take a break from sightseeing to do a little shopping then sample the delicious and unpretentious cuisine at La Gueule du Loup before getting your culture fix at the Arles Antique archaeological museum. Ready to be whisked back in time?It's only a one-hour cruise from Marseille away.

The amphitheatre, a Gallo-Roman treasure and plaza de toros

L' Amphithéâtre romain Rond-point Des Arènes 13200 Arles

Begin your day at one of Arles' most iconic and most visited ancient landmarks: the amphitheatre. Built over 2,000 years ago by a Roman colony, it was designed to hold 21,000 spectators over 34 terraces. Stop to admire the large monolithic slabs on the ground, a perfect illustration of the Roman obsession with size as a symbol of power. Events are regularly held there, especially during the Temporada (bullfighting season).

Catch a show in an ancient theatre

Théâtre Antique Rue De la Calade 13200 Arles

Next head to Arles' Roman theatre dating from the 1st century B.C. when Cesar was in power. Listed as an Historic Monument since 1840, this atmospheric site contains 33 terraces and still hosts public events each summer. Applaud your favourite acts performing at the Festival des Suds or watch a movie beneath the stars at the Festival du Film Peplum.

A lesson in architecture at Saint-Trophime's

Cloître Saint Trophime Place De la Republique 13200 Arles

Your tour of the city and its rich history continues with a visit to the Church of St. Trophime, a fine example of Romanesque and Provençal architecture. A quiet and peaceful place, the church boasts two Romanesque galleries sculpted in the 12th century and two Gothic galleries added two hundred years later. Wander around the city and perhaps stop to see the works on display at the Réattu Museum's temporary exhibitions or the hand-made figurines at the Salon International des Santonniers.

Shopping in Arles where traditions are making a comeback!

Arles is great for shopping so hit the boutiques before stopping for lunch. In the historic centre, you'll find quaint shops inspired by Camarguais traditions, trendy concept stores, art galleries, small fashion or interior design labels and local retailers who became global successes including Souleïado, Christian Lacroix, Actes Sud and Harmonia Mundi. Foodies can enjoy an ice cream or browse the fine delicatessens brimming with Provençal specialities.

Distance from cruise terminal : 1 h

A taste of sunshine at La Gueule du Loup

Gueule du Loup 39 rue Des Arènes 13200 Arles

For lunch, don't think twice about grabbing a table at La Guele du Loup. Specialising in well-crafted and delicious small plates inspired by the south of France, this establishment is set over two floors of an 18th century property. Choose between the ground floor with views into the kitchen or the dining room with exposed stone walls upstairs. The place is known for its fresh ingredients and excellent value for money.

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Journey back in time at Arles Antique Museum

Musée départemental Arles antique Presqu'Ile du Cirque Romain Avenue 13200 Arles

Resume your day exploring Arles with a spot of culture. On the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, the departmental Arles Antique museum is an essential place to get the full measure of the city's rich archaeological heritage, from mosaics to sarcophagi. There you'll also get the chance to see a Roman barge (with its characteristic flat bottom), on display since 2013, and 400 objects related to its former sailing glory. A fascinating visit!

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Medieval history and contemporary art at Montmajour Abbey

Abbaye de Montmajour Route De Fontvieille 13200 Arles

Wrap up your wonderful day in Arles by visiting Montmajour Abbey (15 minutes from the bus station on the no. 29 – Arles-Salon route), located on the island of the same name where the first stone was laid in 948. Constructed by Benedictine monks, this extraordinary place is a testament to different architectural periods with its underground chapel (11th century), club-shaped chapel (12th century) and Saint-Maur Monastery (18th century). The abbey affords stunning views of the Alpilles. Catch contemporary art at the exhibitions held there regularly.

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Can't-miss experiences

  • Experiencing the excitement of the crowds watching the Courses Camarguaises bullfighting events
  • Walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh by visiting the places that inspired his paintings
  • Trying the delicious local specialities such as Camargue rice and bull stew

We love

  • Stepping back to antiquity
  • Travelling from antiquity back to the present day
  • Treating yourself to an exquisitely made Provençal tablecloth

The best time to visit

  • Early July to attend the Fête d’Arles in the city's Roman amphitheatre
  • July to September for the Rencontres d'Arles, the Cannes of photography
  • September to participate in the lively Feria du Riz (tastings, gypsy concerts, bull races and more)
  • Theme

    Not to be missed, Cruise

  • Duration

    1 day

  • Transport means

    On foot, By public transport

  • Visited cities


  • Ideal for

    All year round

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Contemporary art

For this weekend tour inspired by contemporary art, start with a visit to the MAC, Marseille's museum of contemporary art. Next, go and soak up the unique atmosphere at the Friche Belle de Mai cultural complex. For lunch, fresh and creative cuisine awaits you at the Grandes Tables de la Friche. Then it's onwards to the FRAC before a visit to the library archives. On day two, make your way to Aix-en-Provence where exploring the Fondation Vasarely will take up most of your morning. At midday, your appetite will be pleasingly sated at La Pioline before you venture off to Arles to visit the Fondation Van Gogh, a gem of an arts institution.

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