The Provençal city of Arles, France, isn’t new on the arts scene. Van Gogh created some of his most famed works here, while the envelope-pushing Rencontres d’Arles, the annual photography festival, has drawn visitors to the town’s cobbled streets since 1970. Now, with this summer’s opening of the Parc des Ateliers at Luma Arles, a sprawling complex on the grounds of an old rail yard, Arles could join Bilbao and Dundee among the ranks of formerly obscure cities turned pilgrimage sites for art lovers. Commissioned in 2008 by philanthropist Maja Hoffmann’s Luma Foundation, the center includes a showstopping aluminum-panel-clad tower by architect Frank Gehry that will house works by the likes of Annie Leibovitz and Pipilotti Rist. And it’s not Arles’s only draw; here’s what else to see.
All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles
Though the museum lacks a permanent collection—it rotates in pieces from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum—it’s worth a visit for exhibitions that juxtapose the Dutch master’s canvases with work by modern greats like David Hockney and painter Laura Owens.
Bar Le Tambourin
For a morning latte—or an afternoon pastis, if that’s more your speed—head to this Arlesian institution run by former bullfighters. (Arles imported the Spanish sport back in the 18th century.) Old photographs of the city’s celebrity matadors hang everywhere—even in the bathroom.
Crowds come to see Provençal-style bullfighting, known as course camarguaise, at this first-century Roman amphitheater during the Feria d’Arles, which kicks off each spring; the well-preserved site also hosts theatrical performances and jazz-pop concerts. Take to its ancient passageways and subterranean caverns when the mistral inevitably blows through.
The decor at this no-frills, paper-napkin bistro may be simple, but the food is anything but. Order the pan-fried tête de cochon and the beef tartare, paired with a Régnié wine from Guy Breton. Before opening Le Gibolin, seasoned owners Brigitte Cazalas and Luc Desrousseaux spent 30 years running a cave à manger in Paris. Fixed menu from $42 per person
Art and bullfighting aren’t the city’s only enduring symbols; mosquitoes, common to the region, are part of its lore too. This concept shop embraces the buzz by selling home wares etched with the insect, plus accessories and fashion infused with elegant Provençal flair. Pick up a stack of ceramic dishware featuring hand-painted illustrations by artist Roxane Lagache.
Prized rice from the Camargue wetlands, freshly caught seafood, fragrant bundles of tarragon: You’ll find it all at this lively regional market, which stretches over a mile and a half in the city center. To beat the crowds, hit the coffee cart by 8 a.m. for an espresso with the locals.
This article appeared in the March 2021 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Source: Read Full Article