Arles, the “little Rome” of Provence: Arles may not be the biggest Provençal city, but definitely one of the richest. Known mainly for its roman and Romanesque heritage, it’s been inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage in 1981. Clearly, you cannot miss the roman amphitheater, like a miniature Coliseum in the heart of the city. Your eyes will be attracted by the Saint Trophime church, especially its porch entrance: a XII century sculpture masterpiece. Just enough to make you want to visit the cloister where you will find a same subtle carving.
More than a period of time, it is also thanks to a man that Arles is so internationally known nowadays: Vincent Van Gogh. Wandering through the streets, gazing at wheat, olive or sunflower fields you will better understand the light which inspired him so much. Even if he came here in 1888, some of its paintings can still be read on a café walls (Le café de nuit, 1888) or in the ancient hospital courtyard (La cour de l’hôpital d’Arles, 1889).
But in Arles there is a lot more. There is an incredible flat vault supporting the city hall, still amazing locals. There are ferias on Easter weekend and beginning of September, a time dedicated to bullfighting events but also where the Provençal culture is so well expressed. There is the international photograph festival each summer that gather the most important photographers in the world. A good occasion to visit Les Ateliers SNCF or how a brownfield can be greatly reused.
But then, if none of this seduces you, there still are these small districts, away from the historical center, where you will get to lose yourself in flowery little streets just as a true local.