Location: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur   Map




Description of Arles

Arles is a city in Provence in the French department of Bouches-du-Rhône. The city, which is approximately 25 km from the Mediterranean, also includes large parts of the Camargue, which, at 760 km², makes Arles the largest municipality in France in terms of area. Arles is one of the top destinations in Provence. Particularly worth seeing are the ancient buildings that have been a World Heritage Site since 1981, as well as the Church of St. Trophime. Vincent van Gogh was already attracted by the 300 days of sunshine and painted more than 300 pictures here.

The name Arles comes from the Celtic Arelas or Arelate and means swamp place. The Gallic foundation is not the first larger settlement, but the Ligurian Theline. Under Julius Caesar the place was in 46 BC. BC to the Roman military colony Colonia Julia Paterna Arelate Sextanorum.

Under the Romans, the town at the intersection of the Via Agrippa and Via Aurelia gained importance and competed in trade with Massilia (Marseille). Arles reached its heyday under Emperor Constantine I, who enlarged Arles and gave it the nickname Constantina. In 395 it became the capital of Gaul and in 402 it became the capital of the Western Roman Empire with the transfer of the Praefectura Galliarum from Trier to Arles.

From the 3rd century it was the seat of a bishop and from 400 onwards it was the seat of an archbishop. The attractive city was subsequently conquered and destroyed several times by the Visigoths and Saracens. From 536 it belonged to France and in 879 it became the capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy. In the following centuries, the city initially became part of the Holy Roman Empire (1033), an imperial city for only two years in 1237, and part of the Empire of Charles of Anjou from 1251 until it finally fell to France along with the County of Provence in 1481.

Arles continued to be an important port on the Rhône. With the spread of the railway in the 19th century, large parts of the river trade disappeared and Arles' importance declined.

The provinciality made the city, seat of the sub-prefecture of the arrondissement of the same name, a center of attraction for Vincent van Gogh, who came here on February 21, 1888 and stayed until May 1889. During his time in Arles, he created 300 drawings and paintings such as The Café Terrace in the Evening, The Night Café and The Starry Night over the Rhone. The café in the first picture was remodeled in the 1990s to match the picture.


Travel Destinations in Arles

Arles has two entries on the UNESCO World Heritage List. On the one hand, many of the ancient monuments have been on the list since 1981, and on the other hand, the church of Saint-Honorat on Alyscamps has been a world heritage site since 1998 as part of the French Way of St. James. But there is even more to discover.


Buildings of antiquity

1 Amphitheater of Arles / Amphithéâtre. The structure dates from around 90 AD and measures 140 × 103 m. Originally, the three-story building with its 180 arcades offered space for around 25,000 spectators. In the Middle Ages, the theater was expanded and converted into a fortress, as evidenced by the three square towers from the 12th century and the walled arcades. In the 19th century, starting in 1825, the houses in and around the amphitheater were removed and in 1846 work began on restoring it to its original condition. Today the amphitheater is used for performances and bullfights. You can visit the arena (with modern rows of seats) and the north tower, which offers a good view of the city. Price: 6.50 / 5.00€ (student ID must be presented!).
2 Ancient Theater The partially preserved theater was built around 25 BC. Built. Of its former size, the first 33 rows of seats, the orchestra, two Corinthian columns and a tower where the original three-story architecture can still be seen are still preserved. The Venus of Arles, exhibited in the Louvre, was found here in 1651, and a replica can be viewed in the Hôtel de Ville.
3 Alyscamps The Elysian Fields (Elisii campi) are a necropolis from Roman times located just outside the old town. The Alyscamps formed the last section of the Via Aurelia before it reached the city. In ancient times they were one of the most important burial sites in the region. In addition to the wealthy citizens of antiquity, Saint Genius (303 AD) and Saint Trophimus, the legendary first bishop of Arles, were also buried here. There is said to be a knee print of Christ on his sarcophagus, as he himself appeared at the funeral. In total, this site served as the main burial site of Arles for over 1,500 years. So it is not surprising that even Dante in his Inferno and Ariosto in his Orlando furioso refer to this. The popularity of this place for burials brought with it space problems. The several thousand sarcophagi were stacked three layers deep. During the Renaissance, the burial site of so many wealthy figures attracted looters who systematically cleared out the Alyscamps. In the 19th century they were further damaged by the railway and canal. But the Alyscamps retained their appeal: in October 1888, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gaugin painted together here for the first time. Today they are a kind of open-air museum, with the better-preserved sarcophagi being exhibited in the Musée départemental Arles Antique.
Roman Forum and Cryptoporticus: Remains of the Roman Forum (Colonnes de Saint-Lucien) can still be seen on a wall at the Place du Forum: The underground cryptoporticus (archway) from 40 BC. BC can be found at the chapel of the Jesuit college, which was built above it together with the Hôtel de Ville.

Other sites of ancient world heritage include the remains of the Roman Baths of Constantine from the 4th century AD, a palace of Constantine I, the obelisk standing on the Place de la République (found in the Roman circus near today's museum in the southwest of the town), the ruins of the Pont de Crau aqueduct and the Barbegal mills with the Barbegal aqueduct, a few kilometers away, in the Fontvieille area.


Churches and sacred buildings

St-Trophime d'Arles Cathedral (ancienne cathédrale Saint-Trophime à Arles), Place de la République, 13200 Arles Open: Church: daily 8:30am-6:30pm; Cloister: Nov-Feb: daily 10am-5pm; Mar, Apr, Oct: daily 9am-6pm; May-September: daily 9am-7pm. Price: Church: free; Cloister: €3 adults

Named after the first bishop of Arles and later Saint Trophimus (Saint Trophime), the predominantly Romanesque cathedral is the most important sacred building in Arles. The bones of Saint Trophimus have been resting in it since 1152 after several reburials. The former church of the Benedictine abbey was built from 1152 to 1180 as a basilica on the walls (base of the aisles) of a 9th century Carolingian building. The nave, tower and façade parts of the church from this period are built in the Romanesque style. On July 30, 1178, the cathedral was the coronation site of Frederick I, called Barbarossa, who was crowned king by the Archbishop of Arles. In 1190 the famous entrance portal of the west facade was superimposed. With its tympanum, which shows Christ as the judge of the world, it is considered the most important work of art from the Provençal High Romanesque period. Finally, the ambulatory is from the years 1454 to 1465 and is in the Gothic style. The current appearance of the interior dates back to the restoration carried out in 1870 by the chief architect Prosper Mérimee, who re-Romanised the church; it has been a World Heritage Site since 1981.

The cloister of the Benedictine monastery is directly connected to the church. The northern and eastern parts are Romanesque and date from between 1160 and 1180, while the western and southern parts only appear in the 14th-15th centuries. century in Gothic style. The chapters of the north wing are decorated with sculptures related to the Paschal Mystery and saints from Arles. Here, among other things, Saint Trophimus can be seen between the apostles Peter and John. The east wing depicts the stations in the life of Christ, and the south wing tells the story of Saint Trophimus. The chapters of the western wing do not have a unified motif.

The Gothic Eglise Ste Anne is just opposite on the central Place de la République. It was erected in 1628/30 on the ruins of a previous building and converted into an exhibition space (for the Musée lapidaire) after the French Revolution.
The Eglise St.Julien was built on the ground of a Romanesque building from 1119 in the 17th century. rebuilt in the baroque style and restored after heavy bomb damage in 1944. It also serves cultural events.
The Eglise Notre Dame de la Major is just east of the amphitheater.
Just outside of Arles is the mighty monastic complex of the Abbaye de Montmajour.


Castles, palaces and palaces

The City Hall Hôtel de Ville is located on the central Place de la République.


Streets and squares

The old town is north of Boulevard Georges Clémenceau, which turns into Boulevard des Lices. The Rue Jean Jaurès connects with the central Place de la République. A little north-west is the Place du Forum with the replica night café, which is said to correspond to the painting by Vincent van Gogh. The amphitheater can be reached to the east via the Rue des Arènes. Past the ancient theater, the Rue de la Calade leads back to the Place de la République with the obelisk that once stood at the Roman circus.



Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence antiques (musée départemental de l'Arles antique, ​Musée départemental Arles antique, ​free parking), Presqu'île-du-cirque-romain BP 205 - 13635 Arles (signposted). Tel.: (0)4 90 18 88 88, fax: (0)4 90 18 88 93, email: . The modern building is a sight in itself. It was designed by Peruvian architect Henri Ciriani and completed in 1995. Open: Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; from November 2nd to February 28th: every day from 10am to 5pm; Closed on Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st, November 1st and December 25th. Price: Adults : €6 - Concessions : €4.5 ; Free admission on Sundays and for young people up to the age of 18 (including temporary exhibitions 7.50 and 5.50 euros).
Musée Réattu, 10, rue du Grand Prieuré. Tel.: (0)4 90 49 37 58, fax: (0)4 90 49 36 97. On the banks of the Rhone, the house/studio of local artist Jaques Réattu shows works by Picasso and a large collection of photographs, alongside his collection the sixties. Open: Tue-Sun, 11am-7pm. Price: 8.00/6.00€.
Museon Arlaten / Musée Arlésien, 29-31, rue de la République. Tel.: (0)4 13 31 51 99, fax: (0)4 13 31 51 94, email: Ethnographic museum, shows the way of life in Provence in all its facets.
Musee de la Camargue, Mas du Pont Rusty. Tel.: (0)4 90 97 10 82, email: In a Mas, a typical farm in the Camargue and an adventure trail in the vicinity (insect repellent necessary!), the Camargue and its inhabitants (including the craft of the Gardians) are brought closer to the visitor. Open: 09.00-12.30 / 13.00-18.00 in summer.


What to do

Arts and Culture
Arles has two theatres, the Théâtre d'Arles and the Théâtre de la Calade. Arles is also home to the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie - ENSP for short - the only college for photography in France.

Théâtre d'Arles (Arles Municipal Theatre), bd Georges Clemenceau, 13200 Arles. Tel.: (0)4 90 52 51 51 (tickets), (0)4 90 52 51 55 (administration), fax: (0)4 90 52 51 59. Open: Tuesday to Friday 13h to 18h30, Saturday 14h to 14h 6 p.m., Sundays and holidays from 3 p.m. Price: 2 to 21 euros depending on the seat category.
Théâtre de la Calade (the theater bar opens one hour before performances), 49, quai de la Roquette, 13200 Arles (on the south bank of the Rhône). Tel: (0)4 90 93 05 23, Fax: (0)4 90 93 05 23, Email: Price: 20 euros, reduced 7 euros.
École national Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP, ​changing exhibitions), 16 rue des Arènes, BP 10149, 13631 Arles cedex. Phone: +33 (0)490-993333, Fax: +33 (0)490-993359.
The photo exhibition Les Rencontres d'Arles is held at various locations every year from mid-July to the end of August.


Sports and exercise

The beaches of Salin-de-Giraud belong to the municipal area, there are also extensive beaches near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and kite surfing is also practiced in the Camargue, as the wind conditions are often favorable. When there is a strong mistral, bathing pleasure in the Camargue, which is heavily exposed to the wind, is limited and you risk being "sandblasted" (usually these are the days when, despite the most beautiful sunshine, the orange flag is raised by the lifeguard).
The Camargue invites you to go hiking, bird watching (caution: mosquito repellent required), horseback riding, depending on the wind conditions, cycling (in the flat Camargue you often fight violently against the wind with the Mistral blowing from the north), there are also paddling tours offered.
Visit to the bullfights that are still typical in Provence: Bullfights are held on the occasion of the Férias festivals. In the Corrida/Course de Taureaux, the bull is finally killed by the matador with a sword thrust according to strict rules. In the bloodless Course Camarguaise, trophies (cockades or strings attached between the horns) are snatched from the bull by the raseteurs. In the Abrivado (and similarly in the Bandido when the bulls return from the arenas to the pastures) the bulls are driven through the villages. Young bullfighters tease the bulls, try to get them to run away and after the bull chases them, they have to get to safety behind large barriers. Traffic signs with the inscription Manifestation taurine and barricades on the streets indicate an imminent departure.


Getting in

By plane
The nearest international airport is Nîmes-Arles-Camargue Airport (IATA: FNI) at Garons, approximately 24 km on the Nîmes road.

Other airports include Marseille Provence Airport (IATA: MRS) and Montpellier Méditerranée Airport (IATA: MPL) .

By train
Arles is on the Marseille - Paris railway line and has connections with the Gare d'Arles to Avignon, Nîmes, Marseille, Paris, Bordeaux and many other places. There is a connection to the high-speed TGV network via Avignon or Marseille.

There is also a night train from Strasbourg to Arles, which should be of particular interest to travelers from south-west Germany and Switzerland. Duration: approx. 9:30 h.

If you drive during the day, it takes about 9-10 hours from Stuttgart and about 5:30 to 7 hours from Basel.

However, one should remember that not only TGVs but also Intercités require reservations!

By bus
The bus station is on Av Paulin Talabot (tel: +33 (0)490 493801) at the train station resp. near the old town at 24 Bvd Clémenceau. There are regular bus services to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (line 20), to Salin-de-Giraud and Plage Piémanson (line AGGLO 10), to Nîmes (line 21), to Salon de Provence (line 18 and 29) connecting to Marseille. The French website for public transport in the Bouches-du-Rhône department offers a good overview with timetable information.

Arles is located on the European route E80 (Lisbon - Gürbulak) or at the northern tip of the Rhône delta, almost exactly between the two motorways A9 (Orange - Nîmes - Montpellier - Spain in the west and the A7 (Autoroute du Soleil) from Lyon via Orange to Marseille.

The two toll motorways are connected by the A54, the southern Arles city bypass is designed as a non-toll expressway N113 / N572, so the A54 motorway is not entirely continuous.

Arles can be reached from Avignon in the north on the well-developed D570n, from Nîmes on the D6113, an alternative is the D15 to Beaucaire/Tarascon, the towns are accessible by the D986 with Remoulins close to the A9 (and the region around the Pont -du-Gard) connected.

In the Camargue, the D570 leads to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and the D36 east to Salin-de-Giraud. The D35 leads to Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône east of the Rhône, and the Bac de Barcarin toll ferry runs across the Great Rhone at Salin-de-Giraud.


Get around

Envia buses operate in the urban area of Arles and the surrounding area, flat rate 0.80€ (1 hour, as of 2013).



One of the nicest ways of shopping is certainly shopping at the Saturday market, which stretches south of the old town from Boulevard Georges Clémenceau via Boulevard des Lices to Boulevard Emile Combes. It is considered one of the most beautiful in Provence and, at two kilometers in length, is certainly the largest weekly market in the region. Here you will find everything your heart or at least your palate desires.

The Wednesday market on Boulevard Emile Combes is a bit smaller.

On the first Wednesday of the month, the Brocante flea market is held on the Boulevard des Lices.

In the old town there are numerous shops, from the tourist souvenir shops with Camargue souvenirs at the amphitheater to numerous shops with Provence specialties and expensive boutiques with designer clothes.



Fricot des barques, a dish particularly typical of the river boatmen of the Rhône d'Arles region, who used to eat it on their boats. It is a beef stew that is cooked between three and four hours and garnished with anchovies, garlic, onions and olive oil. Fricot is often accompanied by potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. It is now a Sunday dish for the residents of Arles and is on restaurant menus.



Arles and its surroundings offer accommodation for almost every budget. The local tourism company is helpful here. They also offer a guest room guide for download as a PDF.

Grand Hôtel Nord de Pinus (bar, restaurant), Place du Forum, 13200 Arles. Phone: +33 490-934444, Fax: +33 490-933400, Email: Price: Double room from 170 euros. Accepted payment methods: VISA, Master, AMEX.
Hôtel Jules Cesar (in a former 17th century Carmelite convent, bar, restaurant), 9 Boulevard des Lices, BP 40116, 13631 Arles Cedex (just behind the Tourist Information). Phone: +33 490-525252, Fax: +33 490-525253, Email: Price: small double room from 160 euros.

Camping L'ARLESIENNE (mobile home with terrace, pitches, tent pitches), 145 draille marseillaise Pont de Crau 13200 ARLES (about 1.5 km outside the city south-east towards St. Martin de Crau). Tel.: +33 490-960212, email: Open: 4-11 (April - October). Price: Tourist tax 0.50 euros per person, tent 1.50 euros + people (adults 3-4, under 13 2-3 euros).
CAMPING CITY, 67 Rte de la Crau 13200 Arles (just outside the city south-east towards St. Martin de Crau). Phone: +33 490-930886, Fax: +33 490-939107, Email: Open: 4-9 (April to September). Price: Pitch including two people and vehicle and/or tent 19 euros (incl. tax), children up to 13 years 3.50 euros, pets 2 euros.
Camping La Bienheureuse (no dogs in the mobile home, no pitbulls, rottweilers and dobermans), 13280 Raphel Les Arles (about 6km from the city limits (8km from Pl. de la Rep.) towards St. Martin de Crau just before Raphéle- les Arles). Tel: +33 490-984806, Fax: +33 490-983762, Email: Open: all year round. Price: Pitch for tent/caravan + 2 people 14.10 - 17 euros, children from 3 to 10 years 3.10 - 3.80, pet 2 euros, tax 0.20 euros per person, plus electricity. Accepted payment methods: VISA/Master.



École national Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP, ​ERASMUS participant), (16 rue des Arènes, BP 10149, 13631 Arles cedex. Tel: +33 490-993333, Fax: +33 490-993359. Internationally renowned and unique in France University of Photography As part of the European student exchange, she takes part in the Erasmus program.One of the partners is the University of Design in Karlsruhe.



As everywhere in southern France, the usual security measures must be observed, especially in the high season and in the tourist strongholds against pickpockets and car break-ins.



Center Hospitalier Center Hospitalier d'Arles runs an emergency department.

Practical hints
City Hall, Hotel de Ville, Place de la Republique. Phone: +33 (0)490-493636. Open: Mon – Fri 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. + Sat 8.30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Commissariat de Police, 1 Boulevard Lices (southeast of the ancient theater). Phone: +33 (0)490-184500. Police.
Tourist Information (Office d'Tourism), Boulevard des Lices. Tel: +33 (0)490-184120, Fax: (0)490-184129, Email: Open: 1.1. until 31.3.11 and 31.10. to 31.12.11: 9.00 a.m. – 4.45 p.m. Mon – Sat + Sundays and public holidays 10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. - with telephone service: 9.00 a.m./1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m./4.45 p.m.; 03 to 30/10/11: 9am – 5.45pm Mon – Sat, Sundays and public holidays: 10am – 1pm with telephone service 9am/1pm – 2pm/5.45pm; 01/04 to 02/10/11: all day 9am - 6.45pm with telephone service: 9am/1pm - 2pm/6pm.
La Poste (Post Office), 5 Boulevard Lices 13200 Arles. Phone: (0)490-184105.



The historic town center is on the east bank of the Rhone, 24 km from the Mediterranean Sea. Arles includes a newer urban area on the west bank (Trinquetaille district) and the area of the northern and eastern Camargue, which is why Arles is the largest municipality in France with approx. 760 km² (for comparison: Paris 105 km²). On the left of the Rhone lie the municipalities of Raphèle, Moulès and Mas Thibert, in the eastern Camargue Le Sambuc and Salin-de-Giraud, all south of the center of Arles. In addition, there are eleven villages and numerous hamlets up to 40 kilometers from the city center.

The Gard department begins north of the urban area, in Fourques on the other bank of the Rhône. To the south is the Camargue. The large natural sandy beaches of Beauduc and Piémanson offer kilometers of dunes and the finest sandy beaches in an unspoilt landscape.




Ligurians have been in the area since about 800 BC. Later Celtic influence was also discovered. Before being occupied by the Romans, it was an important trading port for the Phoenicians.

The Romans occupied the town in 123 B.C. and developed it into an important city. They built a canal leading to the Mediterranean Sea in 104 BC. Arles had to compete with Massalia (Marseille) further along the coast.

The leaders of Arles sided with Julius Caesar against Pompey and provided military support. Massalia supported Pompey, and when Caesar won, Massalia was stripped of its territory and transferred to Arelate as a reward. Massalia was formally established as a colony for veterans of the Roman legion Legio VI Ferrata. Its official name as a colony was Colonia Iulia Paterna Areratensium Sextanorum, "the ancestral Julian colony of Arles of the soldiers of the 6th Legion."

Arelate was a city of considerable importance in the province of Gallia Narbonensis. It covered an area of about 40 hectares (99 acres) and had numerous monuments, including an amphitheater, a triumphal arch, a Roman circus, a theater, and city walls. Ancient Arles was closer to the sea than it is today and served as a major port. The river carried silt for centuries, filling the former port. The city had (and still has) the southernmost bridge on the Rhone River.

The recently discovered Republican "Harpist's House" is an exceptional example of ancient architecture and interior decoration. It dates from 70-50 B.C. and retains elaborate frescoes.

The Roman bridge was unique in that it was not fixed, but consisted of pontoon-style boat bridges with towers and drawbridges at both ends. The boats were anchored and connected to twin towers built just upstream of the bridge. This unusual design was intended to cope with the severe flooding of the river, which would have quickly destroyed a normal bridge. No trace of the Roman bridge remains, and a modern bridge was built near the same spot.

The city's influence peaked in the 4th and 5th centuries when the Roman emperors frequently used it as a base for their military campaigns in Europe; in 395, it became the seat of the archbishopric of Gaul, which ruled the western part of the Western Empire: Gaul plus Ispania (Spain) and Armorica (Brittany ), which together ruled the western part of the Western Empire. The population at that time was estimated at 75,000-100,000.

It became a favorite city of Emperor Constantine I, who built a bathhouse there. His son Constantine II was born in Arles. The usurper Constantine III proclaimed himself Emperor of the West (407-411) and made Arles his capital in 408.

Arles became famous as the cultural and religious center of the late Roman Empire. It was also the birthplace of Favolinus, a well-known skeptical philosopher. It was also an important center of Roman Christianity and the Christianization of Gaul. The city's bishopric began with St. Trophimos around 225, followed by St. Honoratus and St. Hilarius in the first half of the 5th century, and then by outstanding clergy. The political tension between the Catholic bishop of Arles and the Visigoth king is symbolized by the career of St. Caesarius the Frank, bishop of Arles (503-542). Suspected by Alaric II, an Arian Visigoth, of conspiring with the Burgundians to surrender Arelate to Burgundy, he was banished to Bordeaux in Aquitaine for a year.512 In 512, political tensions rose again when Arles rebelled against Theodoric the Great. Caesarius was imprisoned and sent to Ravenna to explain his actions before the Ostrogothic king.

The friction between the Arian Christianity of the Visigoths and the Catholicism of the bishops sent from Rome had deep roots of religious heresy, even heresy, in the Occitan culture. In 385, at Treves, Priscillianus had the distinction of being the first Christian to be executed for heresy (see also Manichaeism, Cathars, and Camisars in his case). Despite these tensions and the city's decline due to barbarian invasions, Arles remained a great religious center. For hundreds of years, it hosted ecclesiastical congresses (see Arles Congress) that rivaled those of Vienne.


Roman aqueduct and water mill house

The Aqueduct and Water Mill of Barbegal is a Roman water mill complex located in Fontvieille, a few kilometers from Arles. The complex has been called "the largest concentration of mechanical power in the ancient world. The ruins of the mill and the waterwheel house remain on the site, and are the best preserved of all the ancient waterwheel houses. There are two aqueducts that meet just north of the mill complex and a sluice gate that allowed operators to control the water supply to the mill complex. The mills consisted of 16 water mills divided into two rows, built on a steep hillside. The masonry of the waterways and foundations of each mill are quite intact, as are the steps leading up to the hill on which the mills were built. The mill seems to have operated from the end of the 1st century to the end of the 3rd century. The capacity of the mills was estimated at 4.5 tons per day, enough to supply bread for 12,000 of the 30,000 to 40,000 inhabitants of Arelate at that time. A similar group of mills was located in the Roman Janiculum. Examination of the mill flume, which remains on one side of the hill, reveals a considerable deposit of lime in the channel.

The waterwheel is thought to have been an overshoot [a waterwheel in which the outflow from above drives the next waterwheel, which continues to the foot of the hill. The vertical waterwheel was well known to the Romans, described in Vitruvius' De Architectura of 25 BC and mentioned in Pliny's Natural History of 77 AD. There are also later references to a floating water mill in Byzantium and a sawmill on the Moselle River by the poet Ausonius. Multiple stacks of inverted overshot waterwheels were widely used in Roman mines.


Middle Ages

In 735, after raiding the lower Rhone, the Saracens of Andalusia, led by Yusuf ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri, invaded the stronghold convened by Count Maurontus, who feared the expansionist ambitions of Charles Martel. The following year, Charles moved south through Septimania and Provence, destroyed Avignon, and then attacked and occupied Arles from the Muslim Arabs, 739. Charles undoubtedly expelled Maurontus and brought Provence to its knees; in 829, Louis the Pious placed Arles under royal protection and granted it special privileges; in 855, Arles became the capital of the Frankish kingdom of Burgundy, which included parts of Burgundy and Provence, but was frequently threatened by Saracens and Vai In 888, Count Rudolph of Auxerre (now in northwestern Burgundy) founded the Kingdom of Transjurant Burgundy, which included the Reuss River, Valais, Geneva, Chablais, and Burgers in western Switzerland.

In 933, Hugues of Arles (Hugues de Provence) ceded the kingdom to Rudolf II, who united the two kingdoms into the new Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles; in 1032, Rudolf III died and the kingdom was succeeded by Conrad II of the Salic dynasty. His successors proclaimed themselves kings of Arles, but few were coronated in the cathedral. Most of the kingdom's territory was gradually incorporated into France. During this difficult period, the amphitheater was converted into a fortress, and watchtowers were erected in each of the four quadrants, within which a miniscule walled city was built. The population was reduced to a fraction of the Roman population, and much of old Arles lay in ruins.

The Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa visited the city for his coronation in 1178, and in the 12th century it became a free city ruled by an elected podestàt (magistrate, literally "authority"), who appointed consuls and other administrative officials. This position remained in place until the French Revolution of 1789.

Arles joined the Counts of Provence in 1239, but again lost its position to Marseille, and in 1378 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV made the Dauphin of France (later King Charles VI of France) governor of the ailing Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles. Thereafter, the Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles lost its political raison d'etre.



Coat of arms

Description: In blue, a seated facing golden lion with tail tucked back through legs, holding a long-stemmed golden labarum (Christian monogram Chi-Rho) inscribed in black majuscules 'CIV.AREL'. The lion is also known as the Arlesian (coat of arms) lion.

Patrick de Carolis has been the mayor of Arles since 2020.



Noteworthy are the olive oil production and sheep farming in the area. The railway workshops (SNCF), which employed around 1,200 workers up to the end of the 20th century, and the paper mill are closed. The industry is economically rather insignificant, around 2000 people are mainly employed in the chemical and food industries. The city's main source of income, like many communities along the Mediterranean coast, is tourism. There are also a few publishing houses and a small volume of trade is transacted through the port. Unemployment in the municipality of Arles is high, averaging more than 16 percent (as of 2006).




Due to its shallow depth, the Rhône can only be navigated by smaller ships (up to 200 t); to remove this obstacle to navigation, the canal from Arles to Bouc was built in 1834 and, since this was not enough, in 1864 the canal St. Louis, 60 m wide and 7.9 m deep, from the port of Bouc bypasses the mouth of the Rhône with its barre.

South of the town of Salin-de-Giraud, the Bac de Bacarin ferry can be used to cross the Rhône to Port Saint Louis du Rhône.



Arles train station has long been a railway hub.[4] In addition to the usual facilities, there was also a large SNCF railway workshop from 1843 to 1984.

The Avignon–(Arles)–Mirames–Marseille railway line will still be used in 2022. She was also the first to reach Arles. It was planned and built by the Compagnie du chemin de fer de Marseille à Avignon. The Tarascon–(Arles)–Saint-Chamas section opened on September 18, 1847. The company later became part of the Compagnie du chemin de fer de Lyon à la Méditerranée, which in turn was merged into the SNCF. The route has two tracks and is electrified with 1500 volts direct current. Tourist traffic on the standard gauge route from Arles via Salon to Fontvieille ended in 2013 after 12 years. Beyond Fontvieille, the line is closed. The standard-gauge route to Saint-Louis was also closed and largely dismantled. A standard gauge route led to Saint-Gilles. The bridge over the Rhône was never rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War II in 1944.

Until 1958, the narrow-gauge Chemins de fer de Camargue had its terminus in Trinquetaille, from which the line led to Saintes-Maries and Salin-de-Giraud, as well as to Nîmes via Bouillargues.