ARLES, the "little rome" of provence
Arles is maybe not the biggest provençal city, but definitely one of the richest. Known mainly for its roman and Romanesque heritage, it’s been inscribed on the UNESCO heritage in 1981. Clearly, you cannot miss the roman amphitheater, like a miniature Coliseum in the heart of the city. As your eyes will be attracted by the Saint Trophime church, especially its porch entrance: a XII century sculpture masterpiece. Just enough to make you want to visit the cloister where you find a same subtle carving.
More than a time, it’s also because of a man that Arles is so internationally known nowadays: Vincent Van Gogh. Wandering through the streets, gazing at wheat, olive or sunflower fields you will better understand the light which inspired him so much. Even if he came here in 1888, some of its paintings can still be read on a café walls (Le café de nuit, 1888) or in the ancient hospital courtyard (La cour de l’hôpital d’Arles, 1889).
But in Arles there is a lot more. There is an incredible flat vault supporting the city hall, still keep locals amazed. There are ferias on Easter week-end and beginning of September, a time dedicated to bullfighting events but also where the provençal culture is so well expressed. There is the international photographical festival (Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie) each summer that gather the most important photographers in the world. A good occasion to visit Les Ateliers SNCF or how a brownfield can be greatly reused. Well, if nothing seduce you then, there is still these small districts, away from the historical center, where is enjoyable to lose yourself in flowery little streets or between soccer games on public square.