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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Costume Festival in Arles

Updated: Apr 28

On the days leading up to the first Sunday in July every year, the Fête du Costume takes place In Arles. I know what you are thinking. Doesn't every town and village in France have a festival with traditional costume in the mix? Well, this is different in Arles, trust me! Arlesian costumes are famous for their delicacy, elegance, and originality, and back in the day, they were the most fashionable in the region since they followed the fashion trends directly from Paris.

The Pégoulado on the Boulevard des Lices
The Pégoulado on the Boulevard des Lices

The Friday before the Costume Festival, there is a long night parade in traditional costumes - the Pégoulado - which brings together more than a thousand participants on the Boulevard des Lices. The Gardians (herdsmen) and Arlésiennes (their women) put on their most splendid clothes and walk the streets of beautiful Arles, under the light of lanterns (“pegos”) and to the rhythm of fifes and galoubets, before gathering at the Antique Theater. It is truly a feast for the eyes and, of course, the camera lens; with a true dance of colours and textures.

The Arlesians are very protective about their traditions and once every three years they choose their Queen of Arles, a beautiful woman that can represent the local language, costumes, and traditions. During the Costume Festival, ​she makes her annual speech. The presence of the Queen and her Maids of Honour is an essential part of any festivity in the town just like the bull fights, the mu​sic, and the aïoli.

The younger women under 15 (or “Mireilles”) wear a special costume and the "Festo Verginenco" is the taking of the ribbon and costume; where the girls transitioning to adulthood are presented to the people of Provence at the Théâtre Antique,

On the Monday following Costume Day, the “cocarde d’or” (golden cockade) takes place in the ancient Roman Ampitheatre. This is the most prestigious of the Course Camarguaise (bullfights). Only professional champions (called "raseteurs" and dressed in pure white) can take part (unlike some other formats in the Camargue where members of the crowd even 'jump in'). A roundel is fixed on the bull's horns and each time a raseteur removes one, he gets money. No! The bulls are not harmed. Although the rasteurs very frequently are!

The 2024 Fête du Costume in Arles

The next Pégoulado will take place on Friday June 28, 2024 at 9 p.m on Bd Clémenceau near Gambetta. New this year, the procession will also be open to folk groups from other regions; with people joining from Marseille, Nice and Comtadin to add color to the parade which promises to be more danceable and dynamic than usual.

Poster of the Cocarde d'Or
Poster of the Cocarde d'Or

And if you are visiting this year, you are in luck! 2024 is one of the one-in-three years when a new Queen of Arles will be elected; replacing Naïs Lesbros; the 23rd queen to bear this title. Like her predecessors, her mandate will be as guardian of Provençal culture, costume and language, accompanied by her Maidens of Honour.

A Video Tour

A nice little video from the 2022 event, which should give you an idea of what to expect from your visit:

How to Get there

  • By train: The TGV fast train from Paris to Arles takes less than 4 hours. From Marseille or Montpellier it's under an hour, and from Avignon or Nîmes it's just 30 minutes. The centre of Arles is an 8-minute walk from the station. Timetables can be found on the SNCF website.

  • By car: If you’re driving to Arles, think of giving somebody a lift on If you are coming from Paris, Lyon, Marseille, or Nice, take the A7 Autoroute from Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Nice, then Exit 5 for the A54 to Arles Centre-Ville. If you are coming from the west (e.g. Toulouse or Bordeaux), then take Autoroute A9 and leave at Exit 5, for Arles Centre-Ville.

  • By bus: There is a regular service from Marseille, Nîmes and Avignon. Please consult Le Pilote website (for all routes in the Bouches-du-Rhône) or Gard Transport (for routes from the Gard department).



With stunning views, private pool, super-fast Broadband and modern air-conditioning, the villa Haute Vue is a Luxury Holiday Villa with panaoramic view in Montauroux; conveniently positioned for exploring both the interior of Provence and the highlights of the French Riviera. Sleeping 10/12 in 5/6 bedrooms, it is close to the beautiful perched villages of the Var and in easy reach of the beaches and sights of the sparkling Côte d'Azur.

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