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3 Things To Do In The Port Of…Arles

20th March 2018

Our recent enquiries show a big interest in river cruises to Provence in 2018. These Rhone River cruises are pushing trips along the Douro to be the most popular holiday for you, the river cruiser, now and into 2019.

So, what can you look forward to on a sailing like this? The beautiful French region is bursting at the seams with Papal history, palette-pleasing wine, Roman ruins and those iconic lavender fields that stretch on forever. It is also one of the sunniest parts of France with typically warm weather from March through to October.

But what can you expect from Arles in particular? Here are some things to do in a city which is often the starting point or finish of your Rhone River cruise.

Amphithéâtre d'Arles

Arles Amphitheater

Justifying the inclusion of Roman ruins in our highlights of Provence above, Arles Amphitheatre is one of the most impressive in the world. It is two-tiered and once held more than 20,000 spectators. The original Roman arches were added to during the medieval period and the resulting towers now provide unrivalled views of over the city. As well as guided tours that bring the history of the largest amphitheatre in Gaul to life, modern day events are still held in this striking arena.

If the visit whets your appetite for more Roman history and architecture, take a walk along the nearby Avenue des Alyscamps to see the Roman burial grounds that were so revered that people had their bodies transferred from far and wide to be laid to rest here. Elsewhere, you’ll find a smaller Roman theatre, the Thermes de Constantin (Roman baths) and the Romanesque church at Montmajour Abbey, proving the city really is a treasure chest for history enthusiasts. And, if that’s not enough, the Departmental Museum of Ancient Arles has yet more riches that showcase Arles’ important status during Roman times.

Camargue Nature Park

Camargue Horses

If you have chosen to arrive in Arles early, or you are planning to add a post-cruise hotel stay to your trip, Camargue Nature Park is a worthwhile trip – especially if you’re an animal lover. Stretching across a vast area between three different towns and down to the Mediterranean coast, the park offers a number of habitats for wild horses, birdlife and other animals. It is one of the only places in Europe where you can see wild flamingos and bulls are bred here before being transported to Spain. There are bucolic walking trails through the parts that are accessible to the public and guided tours are available in the more protected areas.

Van Gogh Trail

Van Gogh Bridge Arles

As well as Roman history, one of the main reasons people come to Arles is to see how the city influenced Vincent Van Gogh and learn of the artist’s relationship with these surroundings. The Van Gogh Trail is the perfect way for you to do this, as it takes you on a leisurely walk to some of the sites of his famous paintings. Along with the vantage point from which he painted ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’ and the café which features in ‘Café in the Evening’, you can visit the Place Lamartine where his quaint yellow house once stood and gaze across the Langlois Bridge, now commonly known as the Van Gogh Bridge. There are ten sites in total, all helpfully labelled with panels that represent the paintings.

If you haven’t yet got your fill of Vincent, visit the foundation created in his name on Rue de Dr Fanton. Here, one of his works is accompanied by plenty that have been created by artists influenced by the great Dutchman. Finally, step inside the Musée Réattu to celebrate Provençal artists of the 18th and 19th centuries and see some important pieces by none other than Pablo Picasso.

If you would like us to help plan your trip to Provence this year or in 2019, we have a great range of Rhone River cruises for you to choose from. Call us on 0800 954 0064 to discuss it with our experienced team or submit an online enquiry by clicking here.

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