Arles is a multiple landscape strategic place located in the heart of the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur, in the Bouches du Rhone department. This southern town houses about 52,000 inhabitants. It is the entrance door of the Camargue area, one of the most beautiful sites of Europe, displaying an exceptionally rich wildlife. In the north west, Les Alpilles are a mountainous massif stretching out on 25km. The villages in this zone are surrounded with vineyards and olive trees.
The town is crossed by the Rhône River and is situated between Nimes (27km to the west) and Marseille (80km to the east). Arles is the largest commune of France. Its name comes from Arelate, meaning ‘place located near the pond’, with reference to the marshy lands around the town.
Originally, Arles was a Celtic housing location. It was colonized by the Greeks and became a Roman town thanks to Caesar. Ruined by the High Middle Ages invasions (11th – 13th centuries), the town was then reorganized: its medieval monuments show the period’s vitality and richness. During the 17th and 18th centuries, many prestigious town houses were built and represent today the charm of the old town. In the same place, numerous Roman and Romanesque monuments are part of the World Heritage. Arles is also amongst the French towns of Art and History.
The name of Arles is nowadays inseparable of Van Gogh’s one. No one can speak about the town and its luminosity without thinking about the artist’s paintings. It is precisely this luminosity which attracted Van Gogh in the French Riviera in 1888. This period was the most productive as regards paintings and drawings of the artist’s professional life. Indeed, over 300 pieces in 15 months are part of one of the most important times of art history.
In the Camargue area, more than everywhere else, the bull is king. It has been living there from the Antiquity and is part of the locals’ everyday life. All the local traditions are organized around the bull. The Spanish bullfighting arrived in France in 1701. From 1825, camarguaise races and freestyle races start to flourish. The first bullfight took place in the bullring in 1853. The most famous bullfight of the town is called the Feria de Paques and takes place each year during Easter.
In 2009, property prices in Arles are €2,255/ sq m, which is quite low considering the national average (€3,197/sq m) and prices in the department. Indeed, prices in other towns, such as La Ciotat and Aix-en-Provence are higher (over €4,000/sq m). Arles is thus a great location if you are looking to settle in the southern France: it is close to many touristy sites and benefits from the Mediterranean weather. The town is also an interesting place if you are looking for a buy-to-let as over 47% of the residents are tenants. The rental market should be profitable either for long term lets or short term lets.
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Historical heritage: Arles is often said to be a rich town as regards its antique (Roman) and Romanesque heritage. Many of them are part of the World Heritage: Roman coliseum (bullring), Antique theatre, Cryptoporticus (covered corridor or passageway), thermal baths, Roman circus’ vestiges, Saint-Trophine cloister and gate. Arles houses three main museums. The Musée départemental Arles antique was built on the remains of the Roman circus and displays archeological collections of the town. The Museon Arlaten is an ethnography museum showing costumes, furniture, work tools, objects of worship and superstition of the 19th century Provencal life. Finally, the Musée Réattu exhibits paintings of Jacques Réattu, Picasso, Zadkine and Alechinsky as well as photos from Henri-Cartier Bresson and Edward Weston amongst others.
Gourmet food: some typical specialities are to be tasted in Arles! Its dry sausage, grilled bull meat, gardiane beef (a dish made of beef, tomatoes, red wine, garlic, onions and olives), eel catigot (eel, potatoes, orange, red wine, and garlic). If you are a cheese lover, try the Arles tome cheese, a ewe cheese which has different names depending on its maturing: Arlesienne, Lou Gardian or Lou Pastre.
Tranquility and scenery: Arles area is composed of three different landscapes gathered around the Roman and Romanesque town, whose architectural richness still fascinates the worldwide visitors. First, the Camargue is located between the two branches of the Rhone River. This is one of the most beautiful natural sites of Europe. Its wildlife is protected by the Regional Natural Park of Camargue. Then, the Alpilles Massif is the land of vineyards and olive trees. Finally, the Crau is a stony plateau housing an extraordinary ornithological reserve.
Street market: the street market on Saturday is a local ritual. It is not only one of the most beautiful street markets of Provence but also one of the largest: it stretches over 2km. There, you will find everything you need: fruit and vegetables, cheese, flowers, spices, meat, fish, honey and any kind of fresh food and regional produce. Going to the street market on Saturday is also the best way to meet the locals and to have a break in a typical bar and drink a coffee, an aperitif and even a pastis, the famous French aperitif flavoured with aniseed.
Location – transport links: Arles does not have its own airport. However, given its favourable location, it has several accesses to airline routes. Indeed, the town is 25km from Nimes airport, 65km from Marseille airport and 75km from Montpellier airport. You can thus easily travel to London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh and so on. Furthermore, these airports are easily reachable since you can avoid going through urban areas. Arles is connected to Nimes and Marseille with the A54 motorway. Six bus lines serve the town and many surrounding communes. Some buses also drive to Avignon, from where you can have access to the high-speed train leading to Paris amongst others. Finally, regional trains will enable you to visit the PACA region and discover other richness!
Villas: they are detached properties often luxury and modern. They are sometimes one-storey houses holding numerous rooms of huge size. Villas have many windows and are thus very luminous. The front façade is painted in beige, pink or yellow. They come with a land, terrace, courtyard and garage. Some of them also have a swimming-pool.
Mas/bastides: they are heavy properties often located in quiet places. They have a rectangular shape and some are built with stones, which give more charm to this house. They have a large land planted with trees, swimming-pool and a terrace.
Town houses: as their name suggests, they are in general located in the town centre, i.e. close to all amenities. Some may need some works inside but others are renovated and very modern and charming. They are a good kind of property if you are looking for a buy-to-let investment. Some of them come with a piece of land, garage and/or courtyard.
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