Arles is a town in the Provence region of southern France most famous for its rich Roman history and Vincent Van Gogh. The city boasts 300 days of sunlight,  a magical, golden yellow sunlight radiates on the pastel colored buildings.

In the morning, we took the train from Marseilles to Arles, and stayed until sunset. It was the perfect amount of time to leisurely see everything by foot. I wore a white dress with lace (similar here and here), sunglasses (similar here), and brown sandals (sold out, similar here and here). It was the perfect choice of outfit, and I even received a compliment from a French woman on my dress!

While the town is small, there is plenty to do! You can find a variety of ideas below.

Arenes d’Arles

During Roman times, Arles was a thriving Roman city for almost 400 years. The amphitheater was built to hold 20,000 people and used for gladiators and chariot racing, much like the Colosseum, in Rome! Today, the theater is in disarray – only two columns are still standing, but it is still used for events like festivals and bull fights.

Saturday morning market

The market is held on Saturday mornings and stretches two kilometers of Boulevard des Lices. This is the perfect place to stock up on French goodies – from goat’s milk to sausage and fresh strawberries. You may even find some vintage furniture to take home!

If you happen to be in Arles on another day, or you arrive too late in the day, a leisurely stroll through the town is a perfect alternative. On our stroll, we stumbled across lavender stores, cute cafes, sun bathing cats, and a plant nursery. You may even find yourself picking up a few baguettes along the way!

Place du Forum

The Place du Forum is most famous from Van Gogh’s”Café Terrace at Night.” That being said, it’s worth visiting for many other reasons, too. During Roman times, the forum was the center of social, political, and religious life. Today, it is a lovely shaded square, perfect for sitting outside at a cafe and having a sip of coffee or wine at one of the many restaurants inside.

Van Gogh Walk

When you visit Arles, you will, no doubt, pass many historical sites like churches and ruins. But  there’s one other element that will follow you everywhere on your visit: Vincent van Gogh.

I am a huge fan of this Dutch painter, so naturally, I had to participate in the Van Gogh Walk. This walking tour is mapped out on little easels throughout the town. Each point is one of the many sites where this troubled artist painted, had a drink, or people watched. It’s like a treasure hunt, really.

Espace Van Gogh

Along the walk, you will come across the Espace Van Gogh, the hospital where Van Gogh went after cutting off his ear. Here, he painted around 300 works of art. Entrance is free, and courtyard is definitely worth a visit.

Foundation Van Gogh

The Foundation Van Gogh is a recent addition to the city and is held in a restored 15th-century hotel near the Place du Forum. We found that many places close much earlier in the day than compared to Italy. Unfortunately, Foundation Van Gogh is one of them. I would have loved to go, so make sure to go early in the day!

Cafe Van Gogh

One of the many cafes in Place du Forum is famous because Van Gogh  painted “Café Terrace at Night” here in September of 1888. Though it may seem like a surreal experience to have a meal here, today it is more of a tourist trap. I suggest going to any other place in the square, really.

Starry Night Viewpoint

Almost a direct walk from the train station, the Rhone river greeted us on our way into the town. It was here that Van Gogh painted the Starry Night on the Rhone in 1888. My boyfriend and I found it so peaceful and magical to simply sit on the bank of the river here and try to picture the red haired, sunflower loving man painting on a nearby bench.

Sunset on the Rhone

If you only see the Rhone during the day, you are missing out on its magic! Make sure to return in the evening for an oh-so-romantic scene, just as Van Gogh painted in Starry Night on the Rhone.

Most of all, if you go to Arles, make sure you give yourself enough time to take it slow. The sleepiness of the town practically requires it. Plus, there are so many tiny gems you are bound to miss if you rush.

73 thoughts on “One Day in Arles, France”

  1. These are great (and do-able!) list of things to do in a day in Arles! I haven’t been to the South of France yet, but I look forward to visiting soon 🙂 I will definitely refer to your blog post in the future

  2. Lovely post! It’s so awesome that you were able to walk in the photo steps of Van Gogh and see the places that inspired so many of his paintings!

  3. Looks like you had a fantastic day 🙂 Would love to see more of France ad now Arles is on the list! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love how intimate your story is. It makes the reader feel like we are there with you. I didn’t know how you would incorporate fashion into a travel blog, but I love it. And you’ve made me want to book a flight to France!

  5. Wow, Arles just looks like the cutest little place! I desperately need to see more of France. And really I have no excuse, living in the UK. It seemed to be the only place I went as a kid so I got bored of it quite quickly. You’ve inspired me to go back! Thank you!

  6. Arles looks so charming and quaint! I would love to explore these small towns in the south of France someday. I’ll have to settle for an overnight visit to Chamonix this summer.

  7. Lovely post, the pictures are so wonderfully romantic <3 France is strikingly beautiful, and there are always some new corners to be discovered, even if you visit it 100 times.

  8. What a beautiful place, I loved seeing all of the pictures you took. I don’t know if I could only stay one day though!

    Rosalie // rosaliegoes.co

  9. I have never been to Arles, the images are so gorgeous makes me want to add to my upcoming trip in December thinking it might be too cold and most places might be closed too. Have you been there during Winter?
    Cheers to your success,
    Maggie
    Cascadeavenue.com

  10. Lucky Lady!! I haven’t been back to visit France since 2004, and even then we only toures Paris. I would absolutely love to see the other cities in France and Arles is now officially on my bucket list! I have never heard of the ampitheatre- ARENES D’ARLES, and would love to see it myself!

  11. This place looks absolutely MAGICAL. I’ve only been to Paris, but I would totally come back to France to visit Arles! Also, all of your photos are beautiful!

  12. Omg so this is what my friend is raving last night. I will add this to my France itinerary!

  13. Wow! I had no idea about the connection to Van Gogh. I became fascinated by his story and work when I visited Paris. I’d love to see Arles someday. 🙂

  14. You see I have zero interest in the big cities when I travel. The little towns with the characters and stories and quiet life are where I want to go. This little town looks absolutely perfect. Beautiful old buildings and gorgeous scenery. <3 *SWOON*

  15. Love this post! What a beautiful city! So much history and culture in one area it’s incredible. I can’t even imagine what it was like in person. Love your outfit as well, great quality photography!

  16. Wow, girl…. you have an eye for photography! That picture of the cats on the car is totally wall worthy. I loved reading about this French city…. and I’d love to go, but as you suggest… I want to go when I have time to enjoy it all. Cheers!

  17. I have never been to France, it´s one of my bucket list! So many cities I want to visit! And your photos looks so beautiful, thanks for sharing!

  18. What a great post. Thank you for sharing. My dream is to visit Italy and France one day. I shared this on Pinterest and Twitter!

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