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Lodging in Arles

We will be traveling to Provence by train from Paris after 3 nights exploring the Loire Valley by car.
Based on the RS film of Provence, along with our appreciation of Van Gogh (this is a bit of a pilgrimage honoring his work and his life), we are thinking Arles would be a smart and enjoyable initiation to this part of France. As I peruse the 3 recommended lodgings in RS Best of France 2016 I am struggling to get a sense of the Hotel Le Calendal. The description, "...thoughtfully managed...ideally located" is enticing, but I cannot access the rooms. We are considering 2-3 nights in late September 2018. Of course, a good night's sleep matters, so if you have stayed there we welcome your comments regarding the comfort of your stay. We will visit by train day trips to Avignon and perhaps Aix before continuing our journey to Varenna on Lake Como.

Posted by
4695 posts

In May, I spent two nights at the Hôtel Acacias which is closer to the train station than the Hotel Le Calendal (which I didn't notice then but see it on a map now). The Acacias was really nice, actually - nothing special, a bit modest, but it worked well for me. The Le Calendal is in a decent location, but the old town is compact enough that it doesn't really matter a lot where you stay in my opinion, as long as you aren't far from the center.

Personally, I was disappointed in Arles itself. I think it's essential to visit (especially the Van Gogh stuff in your case), but the town was a bit dull the two nights I was there. I had to hunt around to find restaurants open for dinner especially the second night. (Not too hard but a good number of them were closed.) Granted, I was there Sunday and Monday nights, two of the slowest nights of the week probably. But the town was just dead both nights - like most locals had gone home at the end of the work day outside of the old town. Lots of people love Arles, though - could be they were there different nights or had different expectations. (Without much thought I just accepted that because others loved Arles, I would too.) Many people rave about the markets in the daytime, something I didn't see.

Avignon by contrast, while perhaps less interesting and more touristy than Arles (and not as old) nonetheless felt more lively the day I was there, and I regret not basing there. Could be just me, but I find places that feel dead at night kind of a drag, perhaps because I travel solo. And because I day tripped to both Avignon and Pont du Gard in the same day, staying in Avignon would have made much more sense for me, because without a car you must first get to Avignon from Arles then take a bus to the Pont (which was amazing - great museum too, which I hadn't expected).

Posted by
1281 posts

Le Calendal seemed nice if you can afford it; I stayed at one of the other RS recommendations, named after the abbey or church or monastery that it faces--can't remember the exact name without looking it up. Both have the refurbished charm of having been historical households.
Both Arles and Avignon will impress you more if you arrange a tourguide or walk or two.
I was in more of a medieval than Van Goghiacal mood my last time there, and there are plenty of interesting churches and parks and the relatively new wing of the archaeology museum to check out, and the walk along the river is pleasant, too. Bull-slapping in the arena as well.
Depending on the weather, you could consider walking out in the fields where Van Gogh did some of his plein air work, towards the ruins of the large monastery, which doubles today as a traveling-exhibit art gallery.
If you see locals disappearing from the historic core at the end of the day, follow them and see where it leads you!

For dining, try L'Ecrin -- the kids that help run the family restaurant might be finishing school by now; this is what I said in a mini-review "The location alone is wonderful -- just out of the path of the mistral wind that blows around the arena, but with a great view. Service was friendly, sensitive. Decor was a little trendy, but not too touristy. Food better than most places this close to the big sights/sites. The whole family is involved in running the restaurant."

Posted by
11743 posts

I stayed in a great Airbnb on the Place de Forum, just one building over from the Cafe Terrace at Night scene painted by Van Gogh. It was a really nice place - big, modern, clean and well located with ample parking on the river a few blocks away. There are about 8 or 10 cafes in and around the square - from pizza to fancy - so you don't have to go far in the evening unless you want to. I was there after the middle of September and the price was under 70 euros a night. The kitchen and bathroom were some of the nicest I've had in France. The downsides: it was right over the Place, so somewhat noisy if the windows were open. One of the shutters was broken and wouldn't close to keep it dark at sunrise. The stairs getting into the apartment were quite steep. I was on the top floor so three flights of stairs.

Posted by
1281 posts

Google is reporting L'Ecrin as permanently closed and Tripadvisor doesn't have any reviews newer than last November, so the younger family members must have given up on continuing this restaurant -- too bad!

Posted by
7704 posts

I've stayed at Hotel Regence, located on the river just inside the wall. I chose it for the ease of parking, but it is located near the train station. A convenience since that will be your only mode of transportation while there.

Posted by
768 posts

I also stayed at the Hotel Regence and the views from the windows of the river are nice and it is about a seven minute walk to the Coliseum and there are many nice restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

Posted by
5718 posts

We stayed at the Best Western HOtel Atrium which has a wonderful location, a decent breakfast and a pool on the roof which we didn't use as we were there so briefly on our way to Roquebrune Cap Martin. The room was adequate and there is covered parking which you must reserve ahead. It was an easy stroll to the center; could not ask for a better location.

Posted by
99 posts

We've stayed at two different places in Arles. On our first trip we stayed at Hotel Regence down by the river. It was very nice, clean, and comfortable, and it would be hard to beat their prices. On our second trip this last September we stayed at Hotel de l'Amphitheatre, which is very centrally located just a few steps away from the theatre and the arena. It's very plush without being terribly expensive. Either one of these would work very well.


Posted by
31055 posts

I stayed at Hotel le Calendal during a RS tour, and was very pleased with the accommodations and the meals. It's in a great location, only a short walk from the large Amphitheatre and other sights. Assuming nothing has changed, I'd highly recommend it.

I was able to access the photos of the rooms, and they looked just as I remembered. You might try a different Browser or different computer.