Living in Arles

Local Cultural Actors

The Luma Foundation was established in 2004 and is a nonprofit organisation devoted to the support of contemporary art. This ambitious cultural project features the construction of a tower designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry at the industrial heritage listed SNCF railway workshops located close to the MoPA school. The Foundation organizes workshops, conferences and debates throughout the year on contemporary art and society.

In 2014 the  Fondation Van Gogh re-opened in its newer dynamic form. The Foundation in an earlier form was established by Yolande Clergue in 1983, but with the involvement of Luc Hoffman it gained new energy and direction. The Foundation aims to provide a reference point for Van Gogh’s life and work and invited contemporary artists to engage with this theme through the creation of artworks.

Musée Réattu : Built in the 15th century, it was the residence of the Arles painter and Grand Prix du Rome winner Jacques Reattu then in 1868 began a new life as a museum, housing his works plus a selection of Picasso works. In recent years it has hosted numerous exhibitions and cultural programs featuring photography, sculpture and more contemporary works of the visual arts.

Musée de l’Arles Antique : An important cultural resource in Arles, the museum (locally often known as the “Blue Museum”) is located in a contemporary building on the river Rhone, just on the edge of Arles. It hosts exhibitions and events linked to the history of Arles and undertakes archaeological research and conservation, as well as important public outreach programs.
Highlights: the famous bust of Caesar and a 2000-year old Roman boat excavated in the Rhone a few metres from the museum. Both are world-famous exhibition pieces and were painstakingly conserved and are now presented to the public at the museum.

Arles Municipal Théatre  is a significant cultural actor in Arles, and has a lively season of contemporary plays and theatre creation. It also offers workshops open to the public and has an active public outreach program throughout the year. MoPA students have privileged access to some plays as part of their first-year studies.

L’école Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie : Another major cultural actor in Arles, the new premises of this prestigious photography school are located close to MoPA and the Fondation Luma site. It is the only art school in France entirely dedicated to photography.

Actes Sud / Mejan cinema is one of France’s leading independent book publishers. Founded in Arles, the publishing house has a comprehensive bookshop on the banks of the Rhone, in the city centre. The cinema Actes Suds has an excellent film program of European and independent films, often in original language with French subtitles. They also offer special film night features and discussions, as well as screening nights and discussions with directors and
distributors of new films.

The Association Mejean, located next to the Actes Suds cinema, is a cultural association that offers a season of classical & contemporary music concerts as well as round tables and debates on culture and literature.

Les rencontres de la photographie : One of the most important photography festivals in the world: The Rencontres d’Arles is an annual summer photography festival founded in 1970 by the Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, the writer Michel Tournier and the historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette. The Rencontres d’Arles has revealed many photographers, confirming its significance as a springboard for photography and contemporary creativity.

VR Arles festival : The Arles Virtual Reality Festival was established to promote cinema, documentary and artistic creation. Using its 360 degree technology it takes the viewer into the heart of some of the best VR creations produced in this new sector. The 2017 edition of the festival includes 20 films. Audiences immerse themselves into fictional worlds (and also real worlds, in the form of documentaries) that allow a first-hand experience. A jury made up of cinema, photography and VR professionals award 10 000 euros for the best film in selection.

Festival: Les Suds is an important music festival that organises every year in July a program of music from around the Mediterranean and more generally the southern regions of Europe and the Middle East. Featuring world music, workshops and other events, it features some of the best-known musicians and promotes cultural diversity. Many other organisations and events take place in Arles. To find out about more the daily, weekly or monthly events visit the Arles Agenda website here.


Like all large towns Arles has both shops in the city centre and large commercial shopping centre zones outside. there is at least one supermarket (Monoprix) within walking distance of the city centre. MoPA is located between the city and centre and the commercial centre so you can easily access the larger supermarkets (the nearby Fourchon zone has numerous larger supermarkets).
There are fresh food and produce markets twice a week (Saturday and Wednesday) in Arles that are world-famous and you should take advantage of the cheaper prices and organic produce on offer.

Student meet-ups

When they’re not working hard on their films, MoPA students organise regular social events amongst themselves. The student association, the Bureau Mopien, is a dynamic group that organizes orientation and social events throughout the year. MoPA students can contact them through their Facebook page. 

Personal Safety

Arles is a medium sized town, and while safer than larger towns such as Marseille, Nimes or Avignon, the usual precautions apply for personal safety. Always lock your car and keep belongings out of sight, and use common sense when returning home to your accommodation late at night.