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Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 28 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Arles, the city where Van Gogh and Gaugin fell in love with colour, is also ‘the Little Rome of Gaul’, and has stunning ancient and early medieval monuments and kid-friendly museums to prove it.

It is a shabby-chic city of character, with a dash of Spanish flare, a vibrant café life, great restaurants, and festivals. The location is also spot on for exploring Provence’s south: most of the Rhone’s delta, the Camargue Natural Park, is within municipal limits.

The extraordinary cluster of craggy mountains, Les Alpilles, are close too, along with Saint-Remy, the other town associated with Van Gogh.

When to go

Provence is at its seductive best in June and the first half of July, when the lavender and sunflowers bloom and festivals are in full swing. It’s hot, but even hotter in August, when French families take their holidays and everything is packed. April, May, September and October are delightful, uncrowded and mild.

Many sights are closed down by mid-November until Easter; also in winter, it’s far more likely to rain and stay overcast until the fierce mistral wind blows, often for several days in a row, gusting up to 100km per hour, but sweeping the sky crystal clear.

Getting there and away

International visitors are best off flying into Marseille Provence Airport, located approximately 75km away. From the airport, take a direct shuttle bus or a taxi to Arles, with a journey time of around one hour.

Alternatively, you can arrive by train from most major cities in France. Arles has its own TGV train station, making it easily accessible from Paris and other major hubs.

Getting around

Arles is a compact city with most of its attractions within walking distance. Your best bet to get around is on foot, also affording the opportunity to soak in its ancient Roman ruins, picturesque streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Arles has a reliable public transportation system consisting of buses, which provide convenient access to various parts of the city and neighbouring areas.

The tourist office (Boulevard des Lices) offers two passes, available online: a Freedom Pass, good for one museum and four monuments, or the Advantage Pass for a few euros more, valid for all.

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