The beauty and ancient history of Arles (pop. 35,000) have made it a Provence favorite. A reminder of Arles’s former position as the capital of Roman Gaul, the great Roman arena, Les Arenes, is still used for bullfights. (‚4, students ‚3.) The city’s Roman past comes back to life in the excellent Musee d’Arles Antique, on av. de la ler D.F.L. (Open daily Mar.-Oct. 9am-7pm; Nov.-Feb. 10am-5pm. ‚5.40, students ‚3.80.) The Fondation Van Gogh, 26 Rond-Point des Arenes, houses tributes to the master painter by artists, poets, and composers. (Open daily 10am-7pm. ‚5, students ‚3.50.) The contemporary Musee Reattu, r. du Grand Prieure, houses 57 drawings with which Picasso honored Arles in 1971. (Open May-Sept. daily 10am-noon and 2-6:30pm; Oct.-Apr. reduced hours. ‚4, students ‚3.) The city celebrates Fete d’Aries in costume the last weekend in June and the first in July.
Trains leave av. P. Talabot for. Avignon (20min. 17 per day, ‚5.50); Marseilles (lhr. 20 per day, ‚11); Montpellier (lhr. 5 per day, ‚12); and Nimes (30min. 8 per day, ‚6.30). Buses (04 90 49 38 01) depart from next to the station for Avignon (45min. M-Sa 6 per day, ‚8.10) and Nimes (lhr. M-Sa 6 per day, ‚5.20). To get to the tourist office, esplanade Charles de Gaulle on bd. des Lices, turn left from the station, walk to pl. Lamartine, turn left and follow bd. Emile Courbes to the big intersection, and then turn right on bd. des Lices. ( 04 90 18 4120; fax 04 90 18 41 29. Open daily Apr.-Sept. 9am-6:45pm; Oct.-Mar. reduced hours.) To get from the tourist office to the Auberge de Jeunesse (HI) O, on av. Marechal Foch, cross bd. des Lices and follow the signs down av. des Alyscamps. (04 90 96 18 25; fax 04 90 96 31 26. Breakfast included. Reception 7-10am and 5-1 lpm. Lockout 10am-5pm. Curfew midnight; in winter 1 lpm. Reserve ahead Apr. June. Dorms ‚14; ‚12 after 1st night.) Hotel le Rhone , 11 pl. Voltaire, has pastel-painted rooms and an inviting breakfast loft. ( 04 90 96 43 70; fax 04 90 93 87 03. Breakfast ‚5. Singles and doubles ‚26-39, with shower ‚30-33; triples with shower ‚36, with toilet ‚43. MCV.) Take the Starlette bus to Clemencau and then lake bus #2 (dir.: Pont de Crau) to Hermite for Camping-City , 67 rte. de Crau. (04 90 93 08 86. Reception 8am-8pm. Open Apr.-Sept. ‚4 per person, ‚3 per car.) Monoprix supermarket is on pl. Lamartine by the station. (Open M-Sa 8:30am-8pm.) Place du Forum and place Voltaire have many cafes. Postal Code: 13200.
DAYTRIP FROM ARLES: THE CAMARGUE. Between Arles and the Mediterranean coast stretches the Camargue. Pink flamingos, black bulls, and the famous white Camargue horses roam freely across this flat expanse of protected wild marshland. The Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau, along D570, offers views of birds and grazing bulls. (Open Apr.-Sept. daily 9am-dusk; Oct.-Mar. lOam-dusk. ‚5.50.) The best way to see the Camargue is on horseback; call the Association Camargualse de Tourisme Equestre (04 90 97 10 10; ‚12 per hr, ‚33 per half-day) for more info. Other options include jeep safaris (04 90 97 89 33; 2hr. trip ‚31, 4hr. trip ‚37) and boat trips (04 90 97 84 72; IMhr. 3 per day, ‚10). Biking is another way to see the area, and informative trail maps are available from the tourist office in Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 5 av. Van Gogh. ( 04 90 97 82 55. Open July-Aug. daily 9am-8pm; Sept. June reduced hours.) Arles runs buses to Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer (lhr. 5 per day, ‚4.80), the region’s largest town.
Famous for festivals, fountains, and former residents Paul Cezanne and Victor Vasarely, Aix (pop. 137,000) caters to tourists without being ruined by them. The Chemin de Cezanne, 9 av. Paul Cezanne, features a self-guided walking tour, including the artist’s studio. (04 42 21 06 53. Open June-Sept. daily 10am-6:30pm; Oct.-May reduced hours. ‚5.50, students ‚2.) The Fondation Vasarely, av. Marcel-Pag-nol, in Jas-de-Bouffan, designed by artist Victor Vasarely, is a must-see for modem art fans, (a 04 42 20 01 09. Open July-Sept. daily 10am-7pm; Oct. June 10am-lpm and 2-6pm. ‚7, students ‚4.) Cathedrale St-Sauveur, r. Gaston de Saporta, on pl. de l’Universite, is a dramatic mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque carvings and reliefs. ( 04 42 23 45 65. Open daily 9am-noon and 2-6pm.) In June and July, Aix’s International Music Festival brings in operas and concerts. (04 42 17 34 34; www.aix-en-provence.comfestartlyrique. Tickets from ‚6.) Aix also hosts a two-week dance festival ( 04 42 23 41 24; tickets ‚10-38). Tickets are available at the tourist office. Rue Verrerie is lined with bars and clubs. The Red Clover, 30 r. de la Verrerie, is a lively bar with an overflowing international crowd. (Open daily 8am-2am.) Bistro Aixois, 37 cours Sextius, packs in students. (Open daily 6:30pm-4am.)
Trains, at the end of av. Victor Hugo, run to Marseilles (35min. 21 per day, ‚5.70). Buses I 04 42 91 26 80), av. de l’Europe, also run frequently to Marseilles (30min. almost every lOmin. ‚4). From the train station, follow av. Victor Hugo, bearing left at the fork, until it feeds into La Rotonde. On the left is the tourist office, 2 pl. du General de Gaulle, which books rooms for free and stocks maps and guides. (04 42 16 11 61; www.aixenprovencetourism.com. Open July-Aug. daily 8:30am-8pm; Sept.-June reduced hours.) You can surf the Internet at Millenium, 6 r. Mazarine, off cours Mirabeau. ( 04 42 27 39 11. ‚3 per hr. Open daily lOam-llpm.) The excellent Hotel du Globe O, 74 cours Sextius, is 5min. from centre ville. ( 04 42 26 03 58; fax 04 42 26 13 68. Singles ‚35, with bath ‚40; doubles ‚5059; triples ‚63-69; quads ‚89.) Hotel des Arts , 69 bd. Carnot, has compact modem rooms. ( 04 42 38 11 77; fax 04 42 26 77 31. Breakfast ‚4.30. Singles and doubles ‚31-44. MCV.) To camp at Arc-en-Ciel , on rte. de Nice, take bus #3 from La Rotonde to Trois Sautets or Val St-Andre. ( 04 42 26 14 28. ‚5.20 per person, ‚5.80 per tent.) The roads north of cours Mirabeau are packed with reasonably priced restaurants, as is rue Verrerie, off r. des Cordiliers. You can choose from three Petit Casinos supermarkets at: 3 cours d’Orbitelle (open M-Sa 8am-lpm and 4-7:30pm); 16 r. Italie (open M-Sa 8am-7:30pm, Su 8:30am-12:30pm); and 5 r. Sapora (open M and W-Sa 8:30am-7:30pm, Su 8:30am-12:30pm). Postal Code: 13100.