Located in Provence, Arles is a quiet and small city in the southern part of France. In the sixth century BC the city was founded by Greeks making the city over 2,500 years old. But not until the Roman Empire did Arelate assume an important status as a city when it became the capital of the Gallia Narbonensis province. Even though centuries have past Arles still showcases the power of the past and remains the vast region of Camargue’s capital.
The city of Arelate Roman was completely encircled with walls and was an area of just 99 acres with a number of architectural monuments such as a triumphal arch, amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and the circus.
The remains of the Constantine the III’s baths are also here. In ancient times Arles was closer to the sea and was a major port on the Mediterranean and many of the remains of that era remain today. Arles is not on the list of must see’s in many tourist guides or on many tours but if you are near Provence you should not miss it and you will surely love it.
The area feels and even looks a bit like Tuscany, with a lovely historic area in which to stroll through on a leisurely pace. The main attraction in the town is the Roman amphitheatre that can be easily spotted from any of the downtown streets. Just walk up the short flight of stone steps and into the highest point in the entire city.
The amphitheatre was built about 90 AD in Arles and remains one of the world’s best preserved and has a capacity of 20,000 which is only half that of the great one in Rome. To enter there is a charge of €6.5 and €3 more if you to purchase the guide. Today the amphitheatre is used manly to host bullfights.
Not only is the interior of the amphitheatre beautiful but the surrounding area is spectacular with small village houses filled with shops giving the area a charming feel. Walking the perimeter of the amphitheatre is a real pleasure because it is a pedestrian area therefore you can get close to the theatre.
If you happen to be on the road to Avignon, Marseille, Aix en Provence, Montpellier or any of the cities in Provence, take a side trip and stop off and visit Arles it may just be your most pleasurable stop in all of southern France.