Things to Do in Provence: Visit Arles, France

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Nestled in the southeastern corner of France, Provence is a magical region bursting with sunshine, colorful landscapes, charming villages, and a rich cultural heritage. From the lavender fields of the Luberon to the cliffs of the Calanques, Provence offers countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the very best of French culture and nature.

In this post, I’ll highlight some of my favorite things to see and do during a visit to this captivating region. We’ll explore lively markets and festivals that celebrate Provençal traditions, wander through hilltop villages straight out of a Van Gogh painting, and sample the regional culinary specialties paired perfectly with local Côtes de Provence rosé and red wines. I’ll share tips on the top sites and stops along a Provence road trip route, as well as some hidden gem locations where you can escape the crowds.

Whether you spend a week or just a few days, Provence – and particularly Arles – will cast its spell on you. Let’s dive right into the very best ways to experience the magic of this southern slice of France! From savoring long lazy meals under the warm sun to exploring Roman ruins and medieval towns, Provence offers endless opportunities for creating unforgettable travel memories.

Keep an Eye Out for Trompe L’Oeil in Provence

I heard many great things about the Provençal ville of Arles so I decided to spend my Saturday exploring this town just south of Avignon. Originally, I wanted to visit Nimes as well, but due to the French train strikes, I was only able to visit Arles – a 20-minute train ride away. Turns out, I’m glad I didn’t end up going to Nimes because there was more than enough to do and see in Arles throughout the day!

Trompe l'Oeil architecture in Arles France

I was in awe the entire time I was in the town, to say the least. Arles is exactly the quintessential charming little French town I imagined when I planned my trip to the south of France. Between the small, winding passageways, the flower pots perched on window sills, and the friendly, curious cats that roam the streets, Arles is simply perfect. I would love to own an apartment here one day, I thought to myself over and over again as I walked the town’s narrow streets. Even Vincent Van Gogh spent a year in Arles and it’s not hard to see why…

Stay in a Local Apartment if You Can

The train station is about a 10-minute walk to the old town of Arles, nestled along the Rhône River just like Avignon.

Arles

Admire the Architecture

Part of the city has even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, including several Roman monuments dating back to the 1st century BC. You can see the ruins left by the Romans just outside the enormous Amphitheatre near the center of the town.

Arles
Arles

Buy French Soap

Provence is known for its soap-making and you can buy locally made soap almost everywhere in the region.

Soap for sale in Arles

Say Hi to the Local Cats

Arles
Arles cats
Arles

Arles was a highlight of my month-long trip through the southeast of France, and I can’t wait to return! Be sure to check out my visits to the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation and a lovely provençal restaurant in Arles!


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3 comments

  1. Hi there
    love your post and pictures, we are a family of 6 with limited time travelling by car to the Provence area. We are visiting Arles, Avignon, Pont de Gard, Baux en Provence and the Gorges de Verdun. I am desperately trying to decide on whether to stay in Arles or Avignon… I love the feel of small french villages but wonder if it will be too quiet in Arles in October… (also read it is scruffy dirty and full of old people!) or would you do one night in Arles and one night in Avignon. There are so many mixed reviews on the two.

    1. Hi Shannon! I personally loved Arles and would stay there over Avignon, especially for just 2 nights, I don’t think you will be bored, even though it is the off-season. For longer stays, then yes Avignon would probably be a better choice! :)
      Victoria

  2. Hi there,

    Beautiful photos of Arles, absolutely adore them!

    Could you kindly tell me the names of the streets of photos 2, 20, 25 and 26? (If you know them?) Would love to go there!!!

    Thank you in advance

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