Arles : A little piece of Ancient Rome in France

Girl on the rocks.

Girl on the rocks, Théâtre Antique d’Arles

If you look back on my few years of blogging you will notice that I hardly ever write anything May-September.

There is a simple explanation for this: I have trouble sitting down at my computer in the summer time. When the nice weather comes, all I want to do is be outside in the sun!

But I’ve decided that I miss writing so I want to share with you all a little bit about my recent vacations, starting with my visit to the beautiful city of Arles.

At the end of June, Edouard and I took a trip to the south of France for a wedding. The wedding was held near Montpelier, a 3.5 hour train ride from Paris. Since the trek down there was so long we decided to make a weekend out of it and visit Edouard’s brother who had recently moved to Arles, a 1 hour drive away from where the wedding was being held. (So much traveling!)

Edouard’s brother is a big history buff, and is especially passionate about the Roman Empire so he promised to take us on a tour of his small French city which is known for it’s Roman monuments.

The day after the wedding we hit the road around noon and got to Arles around 1:30pm, just in time for lunch (or so I thought!)

l’Hôtel du Cloître Arles France

Our hotel: l’Hôtel du Cloître

Roman arena Arles France Amphitheatre

Charles and I speeding past the beautiful Roman Ampitheatre (arena) to go to lunch

Roman arena Arles France Amphitheatre

Me asking questions about the arena

Edouard’s brother came to meet us at our hotel and we hurried past the Roman arena to the restaurant “Taberna Volubilis” for some authentic Ancient Roman dishes. Unfortunately, they must eat lunch earlier down south because there was nothing left when we got there so we had to find another restaurant to take us in. *sniff*

Taberna Volubilis Arles France

Taberna Volubilis where we almost ate lunch

We ended up eating at one of the restaurants next to the arena so we had a great view. The food was delish too – We all ordered “taureau” aka bull meat.

After lunch we took a visit of the arena (Arles Amphitheatre). It looks like a small-scale version of the Colosseum but in much better condition. They actually still use the arena today for spectacles like “La Corrida” (bullfighting).

Things that I learned during my visit of the Arles Amphitheatre:

1) Arles has a queen. Not a legit queen with power and all, but a queen nonetheless! She is supposed to represent the language, customs, and traditions of the people.  A new queen is reelected every 3 years.

Roman arena Ampitheatre Arles France

Queen of Arles photo in the arena

2) The Roman arena was turned into a fortified city during the Middle Ages. You can still see remains of old stairwells and doorways if you look closely when you’re walking.

Roman arena Ampitheatre Arles France

The arena during the Middle Ages

3) The arena used to have a system in place to cover the top in case of bad weather. Those Romans sure were smarty pants!

Roman arena Ampitheatre Arles France

Model of the Arles Ampitheatre with rope system for it’s cover

From the top of the arena there is a wonderful view of the city:

After the arena, Edouard’s brother took us to see the ancient theater and to the “Thermes de Constantin” (below).

The Thermes de Constantin (thermal baths) consisted of 3 baths back in the day: a cold bath, warm bath, and hot bath. The hot and warm baths were heated by the flow of hot air through small passageways below the baths, some of which are still visible today.

Thermes de Constantin, Arles

Thermes de Constantin

After our tour of the city center we hit the museum: Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence antiques.
Here were my favorite sights:

After a long day of sightseeing we went back to town and had dinner at the “Place du Forum.”

I have so many more pictures from our trip but I’ll leave you with just a few more:

Edouard in a Roman garden

Edouard in a Roman-styled garden

Abandoned boulangerie

Abandoned boulangerie

Arles, France

Sunshine and flowers

Quiet street

Quiet street

If anyone is looking for something fun to do in August, Arles will be holding their annual Ancient Roman festival, “Arelate,” from the 17th to the 23rd. I loved the city so much that I’m thinking of going again myself!

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5 thoughts on “Arles : A little piece of Ancient Rome in France

  1. This brought back nice memories of our trip to Arles a few years ago. You should also think of going to Nîmes if you haven’t already because the amphitheatre is even more spectacular and the Pont du Gard is also in the area and worth a visit but you may have already seen all of these places…nice pics (Suzanne)

  2. Your photos are just getting better and better! Beautiful, so beautiful. My husband and I loved Arles, especially those iconic red roofs. And looks like you had perfect weather!

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