Since we did not have a lot of time to spend in Arles, Wim suggested we take LE PETIT TRAIN D'ARLES to at least see what Arles had to offer. It is a large city, privileged with dozens of listed monuments, including World Heritage site - Les Arenes. I was impressed with Arles. Throughout the city there were many ruins probably dating from the Roman times, such as "Les Thermes de Constantin" or Constantine Bath dating from the 4th century AD. Most impressive is the Amphitheatre dating from 80 AD.
Arriving by train eases you gently into the city, with the gare SNCF conveniently located a few blocks to the north of the Arènes.
Most buses also arrive here at the adjacent Gare Routière (tel 04.90.49.38.01), though some, including all local buses, stop on the north side of Boulevard Georges-Clemenceau just east of rue Gambetta.
Rue Jean-Jaurès, with its continuation rue Hôtel-de-Ville, is the main axis of old Arles. At the southern end it meets Boulevard Georges-Clemenceau and Boulevard des Lices, with the Tourist Office directly opposite (April–Sept daily 9am–6.45pm; Oct–Nov Mon–Sat 9am–5.45pm, Sun 10.30am–2.30pm; Dec–March Mon–Sat 9am–4.45pm, Sun 10.30am–2.30pm; tel 04.90.18.41.20, www.tourisme.ville-arles.fr);
there's also an annexe in the gare SNCF (Mon–Sat 9am–1pm & 2–6pm).
You can rent bikes from Peugeot, 15 rue du Pont, or Europbike, at the newspaper kiosk on Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle, and cars from Europcar (tel 04.90.93.23.24), Eurorent (tel 04.90.93.50.14) or Hertz (tel 04.90.96.75.23), all on Avenue Victor-Hugo.
The train station in Arles is 10 mins walk from the centre of town. Trains runs to Marseille, Nimes and Avignon amongst other places. Avignon only takes 15 minutes on a fast train. The slower train takes about an hour. Trains are pretty cheap - Avignon was only about £6 ($9) return. Ask for discounts if you are a senior.
From Avignon you can get to Arles by frequent trains in less than 1/2 hour. Once there, there is a shuttle vehicle that circles the main sights (except the Ancient History Museum), but it is only a 10 minute walk from the train station into the center of town and most of the sights are within easy walking distance.
It's really easy to get around using public transport. Buses or should I say luxurious motorcoaches are the norm and run even for 3 people! There are two places to catch a bus from in Arles : the main bus station which is located in the centre, on Boulevard de Lices or at the bus station opposite the train station.
We took a trip to St Remy en Provence about an hour away and to Saint Maries de la Mer about the same distance away. Fare for adults is about £5 return ($8). Seniors travel for the unbelievable price of 1Euro ($1) each way!!!!! 65p - that is a bargain. Be sure to ask for a discount - I just said "c'est moins cher pour les gens qui sont plus que soixante ans?"
Some road distances to Arles from:
- Heidelberg (Germany): 892. kms.
- Madrid (Spain): 1.014 kms.
- Timisoara (Romania): 1.732 kms.
- Kaunas (Lithuania):2.500 kms.
Checking the website, you’ll find more road distances together with the driving times and the best routes.
There is a tourist bus that leaves from the Arles train station. Ask at the TI office. It runs to the Archeology museum and the town centre. Unfortunately, it doesn't run from 12:30 - 13:45, so plan to arrrive at Arles earlier or later if factoring in the free shuttle.
For travelers without a car, Arles is best reached by train either South from Paris(TGV) or NW from Marseille. There are also great airline deals (50 Euros one-way) into Marseilles and or Nice, just a quick hop on the train from Arles.
Once you get there (if you didn't drive), try to rent some type of vehicle for cruising around.
I think the Provence is a great place to rent a car or motorcycle, as one of the joys of the Provence is to wander on old roads and highways to all the old Roman ruins, and through the great wine country of Cotes du Rhone & Chateauneuf du Pape.
Like most train stations outside of the big cities, Gare d'Arles was a small, nice station just on the outskirts of the town. It's about a 15 minute walk to the town center, but there is a shuttle bus that will take you for free. It just doesn't stop at the most convenient places.
There weren't any taxis waiting around, but you could call and get one fairly quickly.
Some people laugh and scoff at them, but I'm one of those people who enjoy the tourist trains. I think they are a good way to get a look around town before walking aimlessly trying to find sites. For 7 Euro, the ride was enjoyable.
You pick up the train right in front of the coliseum.
We've been to Arles in season and out of season, on market days and non-market days and we have never had a problem parking. We drive directly to the center of town following signs to the Old Town section. Eventually you will come to Blvd. des Lices and turn east. When you come to Blvd. Emile Combes, turn left and you will be following the Old Town Arles city wall. It's hidden in trees much of the way but still obvious. There is parking all along this area and it all works. We usually park in a free lot at the corner of Blvd. Emile Combes and Rue Portagnel unless there is a market there that day. If so, you will have to drive a bit further but there is always a place along the boulevard.
We walk up Rue Portagnel and take the first left up Rue de Refuge to get to the Roman Arena of Arles. It is always the start of a very interesting day.
I just checked the Arles official city web site and here is a list of free parking areas. If you can't find one on Emile Combes, there are lots of other options.
List of Free Parkings in Arles, France:
Avenue du Maréchal-Leclerc
Boulevard Émile-Combes (This is where we always park, very near the Old Town and Arena)
Place de la Croisière
Avenue Président Salvador-Allende
Place de la Madeleine
Place de la Redoute
Place de la Major
Quais de la Roquette
Rue Terrin / Petits Puits
Place Lamartine / Quai du 8 mai
All of these are free and even on market days you will find a parking place. Try Blvd. Emile Combes first; that's where we've always found a parking spot. If that doesn't work, you have lots of options here.
To connect to the Internet,
head for Hexaworld,
on rue 4 Septembre, near place Voltaire.