Travelling: Arles

I've been looking so long. I've been looking for art.

And it can be found! In the south of France - in Arles. Hands down one of the best art travel destinations. You don't know what to do on the weekend? On y go to Arles. Compact and packed with art, food, and beautiful frenchness. Top tip: remember to book your accommodation and restaurants in advance . If you are super impatient you can also scroll down to see our exact itinerary. So what makes Arles so special? Here are our 5 reasons:

#1: The City

Once upon a time Arles was founded by non-other than the inventor of the most famous salad in the world, one Mr. Julius Caesar. It lies strategically well located on the connection between Italy and Spain and at the end of the Rhone delta where goods had to be redistributed from inland vessels to sea-going ships before the Mediterranean Sea. As such it was a rich and powerful city of rich and powerful Roman citizens that built magnificent buildings such as the Arènes d'Arles. What is most striking to me is how seamless the city center flows. Old French houses around Roman sites and little buzzing squares. You can cross the city in 15 minutes by foot but you can wander on forever.

#2: The Rencontres d’Arles

Every year from July to September Arles becomes the main city for contemporary photography. Founded in 1970, The Rencontres d’Arles now attracts around 150.000 visitors roaming its historic city center exploring the best of contemporary photography.

#3: The Luma Foundation

We can have a long debate on the benefits of extreme individual wealth, but I personally prefer seeing it invested in rehabilitating old industrial sites to eco-friendly parks and arts than for private island parties with minors. If you agree, just go to the can't miss, ginormous Frank Gehry tower of mirrors that is home to the Luma Foundation and explore Maja Hoffmann's art collection. For free. Merci, Maja!

#4: Fondation Vincent van Gogh

Ok, this one isn't for free but it is well worth the visit and deserves being on this list. I almost didn't go after being quite disappointed by the (seems to be) more famous Musée Réattu. Where the Musée Reattu seems old and dusty (the shop's floor is covered by thick wall-to-wall carpeting that would break the strongest Dyson), Fondation Vincent van Gogh is fresh, smart and light. It is a modern art venue housed in a historic but recently renovated building. Well curated and not leaning on just showing Van Gogh. Actually don't expect to see too much Van Gogh. (Ok, I lied. It is not perfect. They could put a bench or two in one of the rooms for a little reflection.)

#5: Bon Appétit

Yes, it is France. Yes, France is famous for good food. But let's be honest - we've all had bad, expensive food. And I think you might also find bad food in Arles but chances are small if you don't go to the most overrun tourist trap. Again: book in advance!

Two and a half days Itinerary:

Sunday

  • Arrived by train.

  • Stayed in Maison Volver. Modern Hotel 5 minutes from the train station just inside the historic city center, Super convenient because you don't need to carry your luggage across town.

  • Visited MusĂ©e RĂ©attu.

  • Had a drink in the super nice L'Arlatan hotel before dinner at Mesa.

Monday

  • We skipped breakfast but the hotel offers a good selection of French breakfast goods.

  • Morning: Luma.

  • Lunch: At the Drum restaurant in the Luma Tower. Would recommend it as it is convenient and delicious. You can also get Pizza and bowls in the park.

  • Afternoon: Fondation Van Gogh and Espace Van Gogh. Not the same. Not sure if you need to see Espace Van Gogh. Refreshing beer at L' Échoppe just in front of the Maison Volver hotel.

  • Dinner: CuitCuit. Well, I wouldn't say tourist trap but rather a normal French Brasserie/Bistro. I really enjoyed the draft beer since I am not a big fan of crafts.

Tuesday

  • Morning: All the Roman sites: Arènes d'Arles, Théâtre antique d'Arles, Thermes de Constantin, CathĂ©drale Saint-Trophime, CloĂ®tre Saint-Trophime, Cryptoportiques de Arles. I am not a big fan of guided tours so we were able to cover a lot of ground. We had one tour at the Arènes. All tours are free and usually start every 30 minutes.

  • Lunch: Camargue Social Club. I had a Le Club Toro and cool red rice beer.

I usually like foods from the region you can't really find in other places. Taureau and Riz rouge de Camargue are two of those foods to explore.

Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup.

Eat well, laugh often, love a lot.

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