This is Made in Marseille Provence travel guide, a guide made by Marseille people for everyone. Here you will find out about Provence best places and travel tips. This page takes you on a journey to one of the richest cities of Provence: Arles, well known for its heritage, its arenas, and Vincent Van Gogh paintings, who was in love with the city.
Arles, the city of Van Gogh
Arles and Van Gogh names are definitely bounded. You won’t hear about the city and its luminosity without the name of the painter. It is indeed the light that attracted Van Gogh in South France. One day of February 1888, Vincent arrives in Arles looking for light, real light as well as illumination. This is the beginning of a long, deep and passionate work in south of France. In the painter’s life, the stay in Arles represents his most productive time. Paintings, drawings, it is more than 300 creations in only 15 months, and one the most brilliant chapters of art history.
Each place where the artist set up his easel is marked by a panel with a reproduction of the painting.
There are more than ten locations: la place du Forum for “Le café le soir”, le pont de Trinquetaille for “L’escalier du pont de Trinquetaille”, le quai du Rhône for “La nuit étoilée”, la place Lamartine for “La maison jaune”, la rue Mireille for “Le vieux Moulin”, the boulevard des Lices garden for “Le jardin public”, the Van-Gogh gallery for “Le jardin de la maison de santé”, the road along Arles canal for “Bouc au Pont de Langlois aux lavandières”, or the so called «pont Van Gogh». The arenas and the Alyscamps were also immortalised in different paintings.
La Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles opened its new site in April 2014, inside the Hôtel Léautaud de Donines. It is more than 1 000 m² of exhibition space. Its purpose is to promote the painter’s artistic heritage, while questioning the influence of its work in today’s art – contemporary artists work exchanging with Van Gogh paintings.
Learn about Arles history
Excavations found some city vestiges, showing that a Celtic city was once there, which was colonised by the Greek coming from Massilia. The war between the Massiliotes and Jules César army puts an end to this colonisation. The most important landmarks of the city were built at this time (from 46 BC). Under the reign of Auguste (from 44 BC to 16 AD), the city is named “Colonia Julia Paterna Arelate” (“colony founded by my father”). When the Emperor Constantin built its palace in 313, the city expanded rapidly with an important cultural and economic activity. We reckon there were about 50 000 inhabitants in the city in the Roman time.
Arles city has now 112 sites classified as national heritage, and since 1981 the Roman and Romanesque landmarks belong to the World Heritage of Humanity (Unesco). Its heritage is very rich, but the small city has limited financial resources and must take care most of it.
How to get there ?
- From Marseille Provence airport, take the shuttle « Airport Train » which connects the airport and the Vitrolles train station in 5 minutes. Then a train takes you directly to Arles in about 45 minutes. The ticket is only on sale at the airport’s desk de l’airport.
- By cab : 140 € between 7am and 7pm, and 175 € between 7pm and 7am.
- By car : see rental car service at the airport
From Paris (Gare de Lyon):
- Towards Avignon gare TGV: 90 €, two direct trips per day, between 2.30 and 3 hours long
From Marseille :
- By train :www.sncf.fr : one way 15 €, 1h
- By cab : 165 € between 7am to 7pm and 210 € between 7pm and 7am
From Avignon :
- By train : www.sncf.fr : 9€
- By cab: 67 € between 7am to 7pm and 85 € between 7pm and 7am
From Nice :
- By train : www.sncf.fr : 50 €, 3h30 or 4h
From Toulouse :
By train : www.sncf.fr : 50 €, 3h30 or 4h
Please note these prices may vary.