Day 3 – Sunday : Roman Arles

Third stop on our guided tour of Arles and its surroundings.

An Arlesien Sunday doesn’t allow for shopping, so you’ll have all the time to deepen your knowledge on the history of Arles while discovering the symbolic monuments in the Roman city. In front of the city hall, you will have already admired the obelisk’s slender silhouette, that is the oldest of its kind (along with the one in Concorde in Paris). At the ancient theatre there are two monumental columns that project into the azure sky. Around them are the ancient bleachers that now serve as a place to observe traditional shows, such as the costume party, the projection evenings for “Rencontres de la photographie”, along with concerts and cinema screenings (one who hasn’t seen a sword-and-sandal film in the ancient theatre hasn’t experienced the joys of Arles in all their splendour).

At the steps of the amphitheater, you’ll be overcome by the height of the monumental crown of white stones at the base of the Hauture District, that is dominated by the ravishing “Église de la Major”. In the Cryptoporticus, a colossal structure that served as a foundation for the ancient forum and how one gets to the City Hall (a true work of 17th century architecture), you can appreciate the freshness of these obscure galleries where the origins of the city resonate. Finally, in the bath houses that were constructed under the rule of the Emperor Constantin, you can have a glimpse of refinement in the Roman culture, which gave works of architectural beauty to daily life.

Now, onto “Musée de l’Arles Antique”. To get there, the best way is to go by the docks of Rhône, or to go through the charming Roquette sector. Your steps will naturally bring you to the peninsula, where there is a museum that contains one of the most beautiful collections of ancient Europe, and stands on the vestiges of the ancient Roman circus. What makes the collections unique is that all the works were extracted from the ground in Arles or the silts of Rhône. Some of which are exceptional: the supposed bust of Caesar, founder of the city; the 33-meter-long Roman barge, which is in perfectly preserved; the sarcophagi pagans and the magnificently sculpted Paleo Christians, which demonstrates the importance of your destination of tomorrow…

If you have a riveting passion for the antiquity, you can expand your knowledge by going to Nîmes to explore the “Maison Carrée”, the amphitheater, “La Tour Magne” and the “Musée de la Romanité”; by going to Orange, which is famous for its ancient theatre and its”Arc de Triomphe”, or yet, go to Saint-Rémy de Provence, where the ancient city of Glanum where beautiful Roman remains all align…

Tomorrow : Christian Arles