Walking Tour of Arles, France
This city is famous for its Roman ruins and also for Vincent Van Gogh, who lived here for about fifteen months, and painted many of his best-known works during that time. The city also makes a great base of operations for an exploration of the Provence region of France.
My walk begins at the Place du Forum, obviously the site of the main gathering place during Roman times. The Café Van Gogh, on the square, has been restored to the way it probably looked when the artist painted it.
Leave the square by walking east and then turning left onto Rue de l’Hotel de Ville. Just before you reach the river, you can see Les Thermes Constantin, the remains of the Emperor’s palace baths from the 4th century, on your left.
From here, take Rue de Grande Prieure to the right, and then turn right on Rue de Grille. Bear left at the fork to get to the Roman Arena, the best preserved of the city’s ancient Roman relics. It is still used for bullfights in the summer months.
Now leave the arena and turn right, walking around the stadium to find the Place de la Major. On the square sits Notre-Dame-de-la-Major, one of the city’s churches. After your visit, walk back toward the arena and the bear left toward another famous Roman ruin, the Theatre Antique. All that remains of the theater are two lonely columns and some of the seats. Ten thousand Romans could once be seated here.
Leave the sight to the north and turn left onto Rue la Calade, and then turn left at the Town Hall, on Rue de l’Hotel de Ville to enter another interesting square, the Place de la Republique. Its focal point is a 50-foot tall obelisk. The Town Hall itself dates to 1673. Also on this square is Arles’ most important church, the Eglise St-Trophine, a beautiful Romanesque structure. It has been (and still is) an important stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. The interior of the church must be explored before proceeding. Now, exit the square at its southern end, and walk west on Rue de la Republique, and then turn right onto Rue Fr. Mistral, and right again on Rue Balze. Then take the first left to return to Place du Forum, where the walk began.