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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

International Photography Festival in Arles

Every summer Arles in the Bouches-du-Rhône hosts an international photography festival. This beautiful Provençal town (and site of famous roman antiquities) transforms shop spaces, chapels, heritage sites, and pretty much everything it can, into exhibition spaces for photography. Our favourite time to attend is in September.

The Rencontres d'Arles (formerly called Rencontres internationales de la photographie d'Arles) was founded in 1970 by the Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, the writer Michel Tournier and the historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette. It has since established a reputation for being the best event of its kind in the world, for breaking amazing new talent, and for showing material never before seen by the public. In 2016, more than 100,000 visitors came to the event from across the globe.

One of the exhibits from the 2009 festival (c) JR
One of the exhibits from the 2009 festival (c) JR

Indeed, the Rencontres d'Arles has launched the careers of numerous photographers, confirming its significance as a springboard for creativity in photography and the contemporary arts. In recent years, a new tradition has been established of inviting guest curators from related contemporary fields, including the Arles-born fashion designer Christian Lacroix in 2008 and Nan Goldin in 2009.

The 54th Rencontres d'Arles - Photo Expo 2023 - Review

The 2023 edition featured a lineup of five encompassing exhibition themes: From Film to Stills, Representations, Revisiting, Mapping the Eye, and Reminiscence(s).

Official poster of the Rencontres d'Arles 2023
Official poster of the Rencontres d'Arles 2023

A series of climate-change and earth-focused exhibitions took centre stage in 2023. Perhaps the most interesting exhibits were anchored in the locale of Arles (and presented in collaboration with the Cité Anthropocène in Lyon). For example, Eric Tabuchi and Nelly Monnier’s “Grey Sun”, and Mathieu Asselin’s “Here Near” (with industrial themes) and Yohanne Lamoulère’s “The River’s Children,” (focused on the the nearby Rhône Delta in Camargue).

A lecture from Joel Meyerowitz from Arles 2017

A really entertaining lecture from Joel that brings to life the magic of photography.

The Rencontres d'Arles Photo Folio Review

One of the most enduring and popular aspects of the event is the numerous courses held by the world’s leading practitioners (to help attendees develop their photography skills) and - during the opening week - a series of free 1-2-1 Photo Folio Reviews. The best review each year is added to the formal expo. Quite the moment for that lucky individual to be transformed from obscurity to the "next big thing"!

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 large Luxury Holiday Home 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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