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Tuesday 29 June 2010

History and Art in Arles - Van Gogh, International Photography Festival & Roman Architecture

Arles is a great destination for art-lovers. Vincent Van Gogh was famously a resident in Arles. He may have only spent about a year in the town, but it had a profound effect on him. 

 During his time here, he produced over 300 paintings and drawings - and it was here that he established the distinct post-impressionist style for which he is known. What was it about Arles that attracted Van Gogh? He loved the local landscape and the people who lived there and the vibrant colours produced by the bright Provencal sunlight.

You can visit many sites around Arles which actually inspired Van Gogh. There are 10 easels placed at the same vantage point of his original works. You can get a map at the Tourist Information office showing you where each easel is located -- or you could turn it into a bit of a scavenger hunt and try to find all 12 on your own!

You can also visit the Cafe which he frequented. It may be slightly over-priced, but it's worth it to grab a coffee and bask in the atmosphere which drew Van Gogh to the establishment.

There's more to Art in Arles than the legacy of Van Gogh, however! 

The city is also famous for a fantastic international Photography Festival which has run every summer since 1971. The Festival is opening this weekend (Saturday, July 3rd, 2010) and running until mid-September. You can find out more at this website (available in English - click the British Flag at the top of the main page). There are also several museums which are worth a visit. The Arles Folk Museum is particularly interesting, providing an insight into the tradiitons and culture of the region.

As well as being a cultural centre, Arles is also an important historical city. The Roman architecture is beautiful and many of them have now been World Heritage Listed. In many cases these remains have been well preserved. In fact, even after 2,000 years, the amphitheatre is still in use today! During the summer months it hosts bullfights, and it is open for tours all year. The bullfights are definitely a must-see. They often have Provençal-style bullfights at the arena -- those who are uneasy at the idea of a bullfight might prefer this style. In the Provençal-style, the bull isn't killed. Rather, a team of athletic men attempt to remove a tassle from the bull's horn without getting injured.

A nice day trip from Arles would be to visit the Camargue. You can read more about this enchanting region in one of our earlier blog posts.

For a range of beautiful, charming and luxurious villas near to Arles and elsewhere in the south of France visit our website www.southfrancevillas.com

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