Arles is one of the southernmost ports on France's Rhone River, not far the Mediterranean Sea. The city is massive, but the Old Town area feels like its own little village and is quite walkable.
Once inside the heart of the city, it's easy (and we encourage you) to get lost in the plethora of winding cobblestone alleyways. You might even get a sense of deja vu. A number of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings feature scenes from Arles -- most notably, the Cafe Van Gogh from "Cafe Terrace at Night," which is nestled in a lively square among shops and other eateries.
Perhaps the city's most well-known feature, however, is its collection of some of the earliest Roman monuments. The arena, theater and cryptoporticus all date back to the 1st century BC The arena is still in use today.
The city is approximately a five-minute walk from the pier. On days when Arles' pier is overcrowded, riverboats dock at the nearby village of Tarascon and take a 20-minute shuttle ride to the city.
A number of river lines use Arles as either an embarkation or disembarkation point for their cruises, as the city is also within close proximity to Marseille (the nearest, major international airport).
Euros are the main currency. ATMs are scarce in Arles' Old Town. If you need to take out cash, stop by one of the ATMs in Place Lamartine, a square situated right outside the Old Town entrance.
French is the official language.
It's not hard to enjoy an authentic Provencal dining experience in Arles. There is a number of quaint cafes and more formal restaurants that offer a true taste of the region. Top choices include Cafe Factory Republique, Bel Oustau and Criquet.
Cafe Factory Republique: The most affordable and casual option is Cafe Factory Republique, which specializes in French breakfast, brunch and lunch. It's frequented by many locals and also offers outdoor seating. We recommend trying the rose wine. (Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sundays; 35 Rue de la Republique; 33 4 90 54 52 23)
Bel Oustau: Bel Oustau is another unique find that serves a mix of French and Mediterranean cuisine. It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; offers a full bar and outdoor seating; and is wheelchair accessible. (Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily, except Mondays and Tuesdays; 159 Route du Nord; 04 90 93 33 24)
Criquet: Criquet also focuses on French and Mediterranean and has a knack for unique soups. It's an intimate, stone-walled space perfect for date nights and has a nice wine list to boot. (Open noon to 1:15 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. for dinner daily, except Mondays and Tuesdays; 29 Rue Porte de Laure; +33 4 90 96 80 51)