Arles: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Arles

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 43°40′36″N 4°37′40″E / 43.676650°N 4.627803°E / 43.676650; 4.627803

Commune of Arles
Arènes d'Arles 1.jpg
The Roman arena in Arles

Arles is located in France
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Bouches-du-Rhône
Arrondissement Arles
Canton Chief town of 2 cantons: Arles-Est and Arles-Ouest
Intercommunality Agglomeration community of Arles-Crau-Camargue-Montagnette
Mayor Hervé Schiavetti (PCF)
Elevation 0–57 m (0–190 ft)
(avg. 10 m/33 ft)
Land area1 758.93 km2 (293.02 sq mi)
Population2 52,600  (2005)
 - Density 69 /km2 (180 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 13004/ 13200
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ruins at the Roman theatre.
State Party  France
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 164
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1981  (5th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Arles (French pronunciation: [aʁl]; Provençal Occitan: Arle [ˈaʀle] in both classical and Mistralian norms) is a city in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence.



The Rhône river forks into two branches just upstream of Arles, forming the Camargue delta. Because the Camargue is administratively part of Arles, the commune as a whole is the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory, although its population is only slightly more than 50,000. Its area is 758.93 km2 (293.02 sq mi), which is more than seven times the area of Paris.


For the Ecclesiastical history see Archbishopric of Arles

Pre-Roman times

The Ligurians were in this area from about 800 BC. Later Celtic influences have been discovered. The city became an important Phoenician trading port, before being taken by the Romans.

Roman Arles

The Romans took the town in 123 BC and expanded it into an important city, with a canal link to the Mediterranean Sea being constructed in 104 BC. However, it struggled to escape the shadow of Massalia (Marseille) further along the coast.

Its chance came when it sided with Julius Caesar against Pompey, providing military support. Massalia backed Pompey; when Caesar emerged victorious, Massalia was stripped of its possessions, which were transferred to Arelate as a reward. The town was formally established as a colony for veterans of the Roman legion Legio VI Ferrata, which had its base there. Its full title as a colony was Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelatensium Sextanorum, "the ancestral Julian colony of Arles of the soldiers of the Sixth."


Roman Arelate was a city of considerable importance in the province of Gallia Narbonensis. It covered an area of some 99 acres (400,000 m²) and possessed a number of monuments, including an amphitheatre, triumphal arch, Roman circus, theatre, and a full circuit of walls. Ancient Arles was closer to the sea than it is now and served as a major port. It also had (and still has) the southernmost bridge on the Rhone. Very unusually, the Roman bridge was not fixed but consisted of a pontoon-style bridge of boats, with towers and drawbridges at each end. The boats were secured in place by anchors and were tethered to twin towers built just upstream of the bridge. This unusual design was a way of coping with the river's frequent violent floods, which would have made short work of a conventional bridge. Nothing now remains of the Roman bridge, which has been replaced by a more modern bridge near the same spot.

The city reached a peak of influence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Roman Emperors frequently used it as their headquarters during military campaigns. In 395 it became the seat of the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls, governing the western part of the Western Empire: Gaul proper plus Hispania (Spain) and Armorica (Brittany).

It became a favorite city of Emperor Constantine I, who built baths there, substantial remains of which are still standing. His son, Constantine II, was born in Arles. Usurper Constantine III declared himself emperor in the West (407–411) and made Arles his capital in 408.

Arles became renowned as a cultural and religious centre during the late Roman Empire. It was the birthplace of the sceptical philosopher Favorinus. It was also a key location for Roman Christianity and an important base for the Christianization of Gaul. The city's bishopric was held by a series of outstanding clerics, beginning with Saint Trophimus around 225 and continuing with Saint Honoré, then Saint Hilary in the first half of the 5th century. The political tension between the Catholic bishops of Arles and the Visigothic kings is epitomized in the career of the Frankish St Caesarius, bishop of Arles 503–542, who was suspected by the Arian Visigoth Alaric II of conspiring with the Burgundians to turn over the Arelate to Burgundy, and was exiled for a year to Bordeaux in Aquitaine, and again in 512 when Arles held out against Theodoric the Great, Caesarius was imprisoned and sent to Ravenna to explain his actions before the Ostrogothic king.[1]

The friction between the Arian Christianity of the Visigoths and the Catholicism of the bishops sent out from Rome established deep roots for religious heterodoxy, even heresy, in Occitan culture. At Treves in 385, Priscillian achieved the distinction of becoming the first Christian burned alive for heresy (Manichaean in his case, see also Cathars, Camisards). Despite this tension and the city's decline in the face of barbarian invasions, Arles remained a great religious centre and host of church councils (see Council of Arles), the rival of Vienne, for hundreds of years.

Cloister of Saint Trophimus.

Medieval Arles

Arles was badly affected by the invasion of Provence by the Muslim Saracens and the Franks, who took control of the region in the 8th century. In 855 it was made the capital of a Frankish Kingdom of Arles, which included Burgundy and part of Provence, but was frequently terrorised by Saracen and Viking raiders. In 888, Rodolphe, Count of Auxerre (now in north-western Burgundy), founded the kingdom of Bourgogne Transjurane (literally, beyond the Jura mountains), which included western Switzerland as far as the river Reuss, Valais, Geneva, Chablais and Bugey.

In 933, Hugh of Arles ("Hugues de Provence") gave his kingdom up to Rodolphe II, who merged the two kingdoms into a new Kingdom of Arles. In 1032, King Rodolphe III died, and the Kingdom was inherited by Emperor Conrad II the Salic. Though his successors counted themselves kings of Arles, few went to be crowned in the cathedral. Most of the territory of the Kingdom was progressively incorporated into France. During these troubled times, the amphitheatre was converted into a fortress, with watchtowers built at each of the four quadrants and a minuscule walled town being constructed within. The population was by now only a fraction of what it had been in Roman times, with much of old Arles lying in ruins.

The town regained political and economic prominence in the 12th century, with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa traveling there in 1178 for his coronation. In the 12th century, it became a free city governed by an elected podestat (chief magistrate; literally "power"), who appointed the consuls and other magistrates. It retained this status until the French Revolution of 1789.

Arles joined the countship of Provence in 1239 but suffered its prominence being eclipsed once more by Marseille. In 1378, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV ceded the remnants of the Kingdom of Arles to the Dauphin of France (later King Charles VI of France) and the Kingdom ceased to exist even on paper.

Modern Arles

Place de la République

Arles remained economically important for many years as a major port on the Rhône. The arrival of the railway in the 19th century eventually killed off much of the river trade, leading to the town becoming something of a backwater.

Cafe Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh (September 1888). It depicts the warmth of a café in Arles.

This made it an attractive destination for the painter Vincent van Gogh, who arrived there on 21 February 1888. He was fascinated by the Provençal landscapes, producing over 300 paintings and drawings during his time in Arles. Many of his most famous paintings were completed there, including The Night Cafe, the Yellow Room, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and L'Arlésienne. Paul Gauguin visited van Gogh in Arles. However, van Gogh's mental health deteriorated and he became alarmingly eccentric, culminating in the infamous ear-severing incident in December 1888. The concerned Arlesians circulated a petition the following February demanding that van Gogh be confined. In May 1889 he took the hint and left Arles for the asylum at nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Main sights

Arles has important remains of Roman times, which have been listed as World Heritage Sites since 1981. They include:

The Church of St. Trophime (Saint Trophimus), formerly a cathedral, is a major work of Romanesque architecture, and the representation of the Last Judgment on its portal is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture, as are the columns in the adjacent cloister.

Capital of column in St. Trophime cloister.

The town also has an outstanding museum of ancient history, the Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence antiques, with one of the best collections of Roman sarcophagi to be found anywhere outside Rome itself. Another museum is the Museon Arlaten. However, perhaps surprisingly given the town's importance to van Gogh, none of his works are on display in Arles.


In September-October 2007 divers led by Luc Long from the French Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, headed by Michel L'Hour, discovered a life-sized marble bust of an apparently important Roman person in the Rhone River near Arles, together with smaller statues of Marsyas in Hellenistic style and of the god Neptune from the third century AD. The larger bust was tentatively dated to 46 BC. Since the bust displayed several characteristics of an ageing person with wrinkles, deep naso-labial creases and hollows in his face, and since the archaeologists believed that Julius Caesar had founded the colony Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelate Sextanorum in 46 BC, the scientists came to the preliminary conclusion that the bust depicted a life-portrait of the Roman dictator: France's Minister of Culture Christine Albanel reported on May 13, 2008, that the bust would be the oldest representation of Caesar known today.[2] The story was picked up by all larger media outlets.[3][4] The realism of the portrait was said to place it in the tradition of late Republican portrait and genre sculptures. The archaeologists further claimed that a bust of Julius Caesar might have been thrown away or discreetly disposed of, because Caesar's portraits could have been viewed as politically dangerous possessions after the dictator's assassination.

Historians and archaeologists not affiliated with the French administration, among them the renowned archaeologist and expert on Caesar and Augustus Paul Zanker, were quick to question whether the bust is a portrait of Caesar.[5][6][7] Many noted the lack of resemblances to Caesar's likenesses issued on coins during the last years of the dictator's life, and to the Tusculum bust of Caesar,[8] which depicts Julius Caesar in his lifetime, either as a so-called zeitgesicht or as a direct portrait. After a further stylistic assessment Zanker dated the Arles-bust to the Augustan period. Elkins argued for the third century AD as the terminus post quem for the deposition of the statues, refuting the claim that the bust was thrown away due to feared repercussions from Caesar's assassination in 44 BC.[9] The main argument by the French archaeologists that Caesar had founded the colony in 46 BC proved to be incorrect, as the colony was founded by Caesar's former quaestor Tiberius Claudius Nero on the dictator's orders in his absence.[10] Mary Beard has accused the persons involved in the find to have wilfully invented their claims for publicity reasons. The French ministry of culture has not yet responded to the criticism and negative reviews.


AC Arles is an amateur French football team. They will compete in Ligue 2 for the 2009-2010 season, having gained promotion from the Championnat National in the 2008-2009 season. They play at the Stade Fernand Fournier, which has a capacity of 2500.



The Arlésiens (citizens of Arles) were noted for distinctive traditional dress which is now worn publicly at certain festivals and occasions.

A famous photography festival takes place in Arles every year, and the French national school of photography is located there. The major French publishing house Actes Sud is also situated in Arles.

The film Ronin was partially filmed in Arles.

Bull fights are conducted in the amphitheatre, including Provencal-style bullfights (courses camarguaises) in which the bull is not killed but rather a team of athletic men attempt to remove a tassle from the bull's horn without getting injured. Every Easter and on the first weekend of September, Arles also holds Spanish-style corridas (in which the bulls are killed) with an encierro (bull-running in the streets) preceding each fight.

Arles's open-air street market is a major market in the region. It occurs on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.

Famous people

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

Arles is twinned with:

See also

Sources and external links


  1. ^ Wace, Dictionary)
  2. ^ Original communique (May 13, 2008); second communique (May 20, 2008); report (May 20, 2008)
  3. ^ E.g. "Divers find marble bust of Caesar that may date to 46 B.C.", CNN-Online et al.
  4. ^ Video (QuickTime) on the archaeological find (France 3)
  5. ^ Paul Zanker, "Der Echte war energischer, distanzierter, ironischer", Sueddeutsche Zeitung, May 25, 2008, on-line
  6. ^ Mary Beard, "The face of Julius Caesar? Come off it!", TLS, May 14, 2008, on-line
  7. ^ Nathan T. Elkins, 'Oldest Bust' of Julius Caesar found in France?, May 14, 2008, on-line
  8. ^ Cp. this image at the AERIA library
  9. ^ A different approach was presented by Mary Beard in that members of a military Caesarian colony would not have discarded portraits of Caesar, whom they worshipped as god, although statues were in fact destroyed by the Anti-Caesarians in the city of Rome after Caesar's assassination (Appian, BC III.1.9).
  10. ^ Konrat Ziegler & Walther Sontheimer (eds.), "Arelate", in Der Kleine Pauly: Lexikon der Antike, Vol. 1, col. 525, Munich 1979; in 46 BC Caesar himself was campaigning in Africa, before later returning to Rome.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Romanesque Cathedral of Arles
Romanesque Cathedral of Arles

Arles is in Provence in the southeast of France. Remote, uneventful, but definitely no waste of time, Arles is absolutely steeped in Provençal culture. The museums are small, but have some interested artifacts. Unfortunately there are no Van Goghs to be found in the city, despite the fact that his residence in Arles was his most productive. Chico Bouchiki, co-founder of the gypsy kings, as well as the rest of the band, is from Arles. Take a lazy stroll along the Rhône, dip into a café and continue strolling. Arles is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Get in

By train

SNCF Gare d'Arles.

By bus

There are several bus lines from towns all over the Bouches-du-Rhône from which you can reach Arles. You can always buy your passage from the conductor. Who, sometimes, is a creeper!

By car

Take the Autoroute from Salon or yet another from Marseille, but give preference to the smaller routes and Alpilles towns like Fontvieille, Paradou, les baux, etc.

  • Walk. Arles is for the most part small enough to enjoy by foot, if you aren't lazy. Otherwise, rely on taxis and buses. It's not even worth doing anything besides walking. Rent bicycles for day trips in the alpilles.
les Arènes d'Arles
les Arènes d'Arles


The Roman ampthitheatre (les Arènes d'Arles) was built in the first or second century B.C. houses Corridas at Easter and the Rice Festa in September. Throughout the summer there are various courses camarguaises.

  • Among Arles other Roman attractions are the Classical theater, the Cryptoporticos and a few building that incorporate gallo-roman columns, etc.
  • You can learn all about Roman Arles at the 'Musée d'Arles et la Provence Antique.
  • Other museums and monuments include Musée Réattu, Lou Museon Arlaten, the early christian burial site called les alyscamps.
  • The Pont Van Gogh is a bit removed from town.
  • Check out the Saturday market for sure.
  • 'Eglise Saint Trophime


The Market and definitely think about researching for expositions and other events of the sort.

  • markets and brocantes.


Saucisson d'Arles (traditionally made with a bit of donkey meat), marinated olives from the market, Languedoc cheeses from the market, etc.

Plats: Gardianne de Boeuf, Daubes, Fougasse d'Arles (with duck confit inside)

For restos, check out the menus on side street restaurants.

  • La Boheme
  • Mule Blanc
  • Pastis, the local wines are good with food. Take advantage of the proximity of Nîmes for wines.
  • There's the embarassingly touristy Café Van Gogh, painted to look like his Night Café painting and lots of Japanese tourists who seem to be on the verge of a euphoric break-down when they see it.
  • Check out some of the other cafés in place du Forum, Rue Wilson, etc...


There is an Auberge de Jeunesse (youth hostel) at 20, avenue Foch. It's within walking distance of the train station. Another favored alternative is sleeping in the streets. Place de la libération offers a hospitable sidewalk with a boulder dedicated to two American WWII pilots shot down over Arles under shelter of which you may sleep.

There are a few hotels apparently built within parts of former abbeys, such as Hôtel du Cloître by Saint Trophime. Also, there are tons of hôtels de tourisme.

Get out

Arles is centrally located. The town straddles Provence and the Languedoc. Profit from its positioning and enjoy the great nature that surrounds: the Camargue and beaches to the south, the Alpilles to the east, etc.

Aix-en-Provence the city of Cézanne and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire.

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARLES, a town of south-eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone, 54 m. N.W. of Marseilles by rail. Pop. (1906) 16,191. A canal unites Arles with the harbour of Bouc on the Mediterranean. Arles stands on the left bank of the Rhone, just below the point at which the river divides to form its delta. A tubular bridge unites it with the suburb of Trinquetaille on the opposite bank. The town is hemmed in on the east by the railway line from Lyons to Marseilles, on the south by the Canal de Craponne. Its streets are narrow and irregular, and, away from the promenades which border it on the south, there is little animation. In the centre of the town stand the Place de la Republique, a spacious square overlooked by the hotel de ville, the museum, and the old cathedral of St Trophime, the finest Romanesque church in Provence. Founded in the 7th century, St Trophime has been several times rebuilt, and was restored in 1870. Its chief portal, which dates from the 12th century, is a masterpiece of graceful arrangement and rich carving. The interior, plain in itself, contains interesting sculpture. The choir opens into a beautiful cloister, the massive vaulting of which is supported on heavy piers adorned with statuary, between which intervene slender columns arranged in pairs and surmounted by delicately carved capitals. Two of the galleries are Romanesque, while two are Gothic. Arles has two other churches of the Romanesque period, and others of later date. The hotel de ville, a building of the 17th century, contains the library. Its clock tower, surmounted by a statue of Mars, dates from the previous century. The museum, occupying an old Gothic church, is particularly rich in Roman remains and in early Christian sarcophagi; there is also a museum of Provencal curiosities. The tribunal of commerce and the communal college are the chief public institutions. Arles is not a busy town and its port is of little importance. There are, however, flour mills, oil and soap works,, and the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee Railway Company have large workshops. Sheep-breeding is a considerable industry in the vicinity. The women of Arles have long enjoyed a reputation for marked beauty, but the distinctive type is fast disappearing owing to their intermarriage with strangers who have immigrated to the town.

Arles still possesses many monuments of Roman architecture and art, the most remarkable being the ruins of an amphitheatre (the Arenes), capable of containing 25,000 spectators, which, in the 11th and 12th centuries, was flanked with massive towers, of which three are still standing. There are also a theatre, in which, besides the famous Venus of Arles, discovered in 1651, many other remains have been found; an ancient obelisk of a single block, 47 ft. high, standing since 1676 in the Place de la Republique; the ruins of the palace of Constantine, the forum, the thermae and the remains of the Roman ramparts and of aqueducts. There is, besides, a Roman cemetery known as the Aliscamps (Elysii Campi), consisting of a short avenue once bordered by tombs, of which a few still remain.

The ancient town, Arelate, was an important place at the time of the invasion of Julius Caesar, who made it a settlement for his veterans. It was pillaged in A.D. 270, but restored and embellished by Constantine, who made it his principal residence, and founded what is now the suburb of Trinquetaille. Under Honorius, it became the seat of the prefecture of the Gauls and one of the foremost cities in the western empire. Its bishopric founded by St Trophimus in the 1st century, was in the 5th century the primatial see of Gaul; it was suppressed in 1790. After the fall of the Roman empire the city passed into the power of the Visigoths, and rapidly declined. It was plundered in 730 by the Saracens, but in the 10th century became the capital of the kingdom of Arles (see below). In the 12th century it was a free city, governed by a podesta and consuls after the model of the Italian republics, which it also emulated in commerce and navigation. In 1251 it submitted to Charles I. of Anjou, and from that time onwards followed the fortunes of Provence. A number of ecclesiastical synods have been held at Arles, as in 314 (see below), 354, 45 2 and 475.

See V. Clair, Monuments d'Arles (1837); J. J. Estrangin, Description de la vale d'Arles (1845); F. Beissier, Le Pays d'Arles (1889); Roger Peyre, Nimes, Arles, Orange (1903). (R. TR.) Synod of Arles (314). - As negotiations held at Rome in October 313 had failed to settle the dispute between the Catholics and the Donatists, the emperor Constantine summoned the first general council of his western half of the empire to meet at Arles by the 1st of August following. The attempt of Seeck to date the synod 316 presupposes that the emperor was present in person, which is highly improbable. Thirty-three bishops are included in the most authentic list of signatures, among them three from Britain, - York, London and "Colonia Londinensium" (probably a corruption of Lindensium, or Lincoln, rather than of Legionensium or Caerleon-on-Usk). The twenty-two canons deal chiefly with the discipline of clergy and people. Husbands of adulterous wives are advised not to remarry during the lifetime of the guilty party. Reiteration of baptism in the name of the Trinity is forbidden. For the consecration of a bishop at least three bishops are required. It is noteworthy that British representatives assented to Canon I., providing that Easter be everywhere celebrated on the same day: the later divergence between Rome and the Celtic church is due to improvements in the supputatio Romana adopted at Rome in 343 and subsequently.

For the canons see Mansi ii. 471 ff.; Bruns ii. 107 ff.; Lauchert 26 ff. See also W. Smith and S. Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (Boston, 1875), i. 141 ff. (contains also notices of later synods at Arles); W. Bright, Chapters of Early English Church History (2nd edition, Oxford, 1888), 9 f.; Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopiidie (3rd edition), ii. 59, x. 238 ff.; W. Muller, Kirchengeschichte (2nd edition by H. von Schubert, Tubingen, 1902), i. 417. For full titles see COUNCIL. (W. W. R.*)

<< Sir Richard Arkwright

Kingdom Of Arles >>

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|300px|Place de la Republique today.]] Arles is a city in the south of France. It was started in the 6th century BC by the Greeks. Now about 50,000 people live there. In the 1880s, the famous painters, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived there. Vincent van Gogh painted his famous Sunflowers in Arles.

The city is centre of the Camague. Not many people reside in this region, so there is many free area around Arles. Because of this, Arles is the city in France to have the largest area (nearly 760 square kilometres).


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address