Arles is a coastal city and commune in the South of France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Remote, uneventful, but definitely no waste of time, Arles is absolutely steeped in Provençal culture. Unfortunately there are no Van Goghs to be found in the city, despite the fact that his residence in Arles was his most productive.
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The city has a long history, and was of considerable importance in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles (wiki) were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981.
The city reached a peak of influence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Roman Emperors frequently used it as their headquarters during military campaigns in Europe.
Arles has important Roman remnants:
Espace Van Gogh (Médiathèque & Bibliothèque Municipale, map). A former hospital with a courtyard where Van Gogh was kept under medical treatment.
Cloister Saint-Trophime (map). A former monastery with a beautiful courtyard, is a major work of Romanesque architecture, and the representation of the Last Judgment on its portal is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture, as are the columns in the adjacent cloister.
The town also has a museum of ancient history, the Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence antiques (map), with one of the best collections of Roman sarcophagi to be found anywhere outside Rome itself. Other museums include the Musée Réattu (map) and the Museon Arlaten (map).
Abbaye de Montmajour (a few km northeast of Arles, map). A national monument and former Benedictine monastry founded in 948. The abbey is noted for its 11th–14th-century graves, carved in the rock, its subterranean crypt, and its massive unfinished church. The abbey and the landscape around it were frequently painted and drawn by Vincent van Gogh.