Arles, Provence, France

Vincent van Gogh had his most expressive and dynamic period here in Arles. All is colours and movement. Anxiety, turbulence – and pure beauty. And yet more colours. 

This is at least what materializes and comes to live when you tune in with the van Gogh passionates, and that’s one of the main reasons to visit this vibrant, convivial city, with it’s unique country-side surroundings. All easily recognised from van Goghs chefs-d’œvres. 

Tours “In the footsteps of van Gogh” will show pics of original paintings and the physical spot of creation; a lovely way of getting to know Arles.;

In fact, the light and colours are the first things that strike in Arles. Arles is so colour infused that it captivates and warms you up from the inside. Second to colours, Arles is taste. Try to visit the Saturday food market at Boulevard des Lices, and you’ll start to get the feeling of Arles.

At the market, you’ll be delighted how well the goods sold – vegetables, honey, natural salt and rice from Camargue, cheese, lavendel, huge french paellas, bread, pastries and sausages – reflect the very soul and conviviality of Southern France.

If still hungry after the market, look for the outdoor terrace of l’Autruche or Le Galoubet. 

L’Ouvre boite is another hidden, charming outdoor wine bar not to miss in Arles. 

Food and wine is art, here in France. Or, as locals claim: in Arles, life is an art in itself. 

That may have been the reason for the bullfighting enthousiast Picasso to come here, inspired by van Gogh. (No they don’t kill the bull here, on the contrary, the bull may accidently hurt a torero, trying to get hold of small objects placed on the bull’s hornes, or when let loose on the narrow streets, at the yearly fiesta.) 

And for the once young boy from Arles, Christian Lacroix, you’ll find traces of Provence and Arles in all his design and art. Look closely, you’ll find the Lacroix elements such as gypsies, provencial patterns, corridas and roman remainings like Théatre Antique and l’Amphithéatre, so well perserved that Arles as a whole is listed as Unesco world heritage. 

Lacroix has also done all the interiors of newly renovated five star Hôtel Jules César. Don’t miss the matador-suite, all in yellow, red and black.

Finally, don’t miss the excellent, home made ice cream by Sarah Floris, sold at Maison Soulier at Place de la Republique. I tried the Provence lavendel one; really excellent. Sarah also runs her own café where the ice creams are sold. Otherwise, locals tend to buy their java at ME Colombia, on Bd des Lices. 

L’Ouvre Boite
Café van Gogh is a tourist trap, but he did paint the café
Le Galoubet

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