If Arles’ colorful sun-baked houses evoke a sense of déjà vu, it is simply because you’ve probably seen them already on a Van Gogh canvas. Often overlooked by visitors to Provence, partly because it’s located quite far west (and isn’t close to the beaches and seaside), Arles is nonetheless a highly recommended stopover in a road trip.
Famed for its beautiful women, “Les Arlésiennes”, the most purely Provençal style of its architecture, its festive atmosphere and its Saturday market (which is one of the best in Europe), Arles truly offers a slice of authentic Provence and a seductive stepping stone into the Camargue. And Arles’ monthly flea market is the icing on the cake.
Scheduled to take place once a month, the delightful brocante d’Arles (Arles flea market) stretches along the tree-lined Boulevard des Lices, at the south end of town, below the Jardin d’Été. A paradise for bargain-hunters, the Arles flea market gathers on a monthly basis, between 80 and 100 professional flea market dealers.
Most antiques merchants who flock to Arles, come from all over the region. Some of them almost spend their whole life on the road, buying and selling in nearby cities like L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Pézenas, Aix en Provence or Nîmes, all famous for their flea markets.
While best buys remain vintage richly hued Provencal fabrics (also known as indiennes), antique local pottery, and santons (the traditional Provencal figures made from clay), Arle’s flea market vendors have a little more in stock than the regular merchandises one can find in the region: old pieces of furniture, paintings, old books, postcards, ornaments, jewelry, old linen, faïence, wrought iron, trinkets and other rarities, are some of the treasures to pore over or take back home.
After all, there’s no better place in the world than Provence, to shop for genuine material if you wish to give your home a true French Provincial touch.