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whereisliz Arles - A travel report by Liz
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Arles,  France - flag France -  Languedoc-Roussillon
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whereisliz's travel reports

Much More than Van Gogh

  16 votes

Arles travelogue picture
What first brought me to the southern French town of Arles was, of course, the fame of Van Gogh. After all, this is where he painted nearly 200 pictures, including his famous Sunflowers. While I discovered that the memory of Vincent is alive and well here, there is a great deal more to appreciate about this place. Arles is an interesting blend of French flavored with Spanish, a hot, dusty, spicy deliciously home-cooked dish, with heaping spoonfuls of history, ladled up by proud, strong, eclectic people.

Favourite spots:
Arles travelogue picture
I started my day of discovery in the cool of the morning by walking along the twisting medieval streets toward the river. The old center of town has a marvelous patina, its worn edges and cracks treat the eye to rich, complex colors and textures. I could have spent a whole day just exploring the side streets (a photographer’s dream), as I’m sure Van Gogh must have done. There didn’t appear to be many people about, but a number of cats kept a close eye on me.

What's really great:
Arles travelogue picture
Throughout the town there are paths you can follow to trace either the Roman history of the town, or Van Gogh’s. You can actually see the vistas he painted, and stand in the very spot he must have set up his easel. The owner of the building in Van Gogh’s Café Nuit has even repainted the building to match the colors used in Vincent’s painting.

Arles travelogue picture
I purchased an Arles pass, which is a good deal if you are going to visit more than a couple museums. For one price you can visit nine attractions:

- Theatre Antique (Roman Theater)
- Amphitheatre (Roman Arena)
- Thermes De Constantin (Roman Baths)
- Cloitre Saint-Trophim (Church and Cloisters)
- Cryptoportiques (Underground Crypts, amazingly well-preserved)
- Musee De L’Arles Antique (Prehistory to Romans Museum)
- Musee Reattu (Includes over 70 Picasso drawings)
- Les Alyscamps (Famous Necropolis)
- Museon Arlaten (Folklore Museum)

Being the budget-minded traveler I am, I visited everything I could (8 of 9), and was happy to have the freedom to explore without worrying about whether the admission price of each was worth it.

Arles travelogue picture
The hostel was full, so I booked at the low-priced Hotel Voltaire (1 Place Voltaire, 04.9096.4918) in the upper part of town, within easy walking distance of the train station. They gave me a double room for the price of a single (25 euros) on the third floor (many stairs, no lift!) with a sink in the room and toilet and shower down the hall. No air conditioning, but opening the French doors and turning on the ceiling fan made it quite pleasant. The little balcony looked out over a square below with a café and many tables, which got a bit noisy at night, but I was so tired I didn’t mind. There is a handy Laundromat right around the corner, and a large grocery store not far away.

Other recommendations:
Arles travelogue picture
You will probably want to visit the impressive ancient amphitheatre built by the Romans in the center of town. It’s now a thriving arena hosting weekly bullfights, and offers a great view of the city from its highest point.

Published on Friday October 24th, 2003

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Fri, Jan 26 2007 - 09:27 PM rating by mrscanada

This was a great report. I've been to Costa Rica, (both sides), so I should know.

Sat, Nov 19 2005 - 03:40 PM rating by jesusferro

I tried to rate Assissi with 5 points, but forgot that I already rated it in the past!

Sat, Nov 19 2005 - 11:07 AM rating by isaacmolina

This report is beautiful, like you!

Wed, Jan 07 2004 - 09:54 PM rating by spaceout

I`ll certainly add Arles to my list of places to see.. Great reports.. Did you visit the Museum of Believe it or Not in your area?

Sat, Oct 25 2003 - 03:47 AM rating by marianne

Did you know that this year is van Gogh year? There were all kind of exposition in the Netherlands. van Gogh lived in Nuenen which is quite close to where I live. So I went there to see what was left of the church and other sights he painted. I intend to write an article about it (but still haven't done so). Did you go to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam?

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