One of the great A’s of Provence, Arles forms a close and convenient tourist triangle with Aix-en-Provence and Avignon.
We enjoyed all three cities enormously but found them to have quite distinct characters.
Aix seems the most traditionally French, a place to sit around enjoying the ambience, while Avignon offers monster historical sights and Arles seems to be the arty sibling, a town with some big sights to be sure, but also full of interesting art galleries, major photographic events and little artistic flourishes added by local people – a wacky altered lamppost, a mad shop front, a bizarre sculpture peeping out of someone’s window, a balcony overflowing with kaleidoscopic tat. . . the place is infested with enthusiasm for visual absurdities. It’s a hoot, mon!
Cathédral St Trophime
Cathédral St Trophime, Place de la Republic, Arles.
The 9th century Cathédral St Trophime in the centre of Arles is embellished with a simply gorgeous and intricately carved 12thC doorway, claimed to be the best example of medieval Provencal stonework in existence (see below).
The doorway’s theme is the Last Judgement and accomplished with verve and some humour – probably unintentional. Inside the cathedral are more points of interest from the elaborate font to the magnificently ornate cloisters.
Place de la Républic
Arles’ Place de la Républic, with the Cathédral St Trophime on the right and 17thC Hotel de Ville on the right.