The origins of these fascinating underground chambers, now sitting below the current city centre, go at least back to the first Roman colony in Arles in 46 BC, and most likely extend to much older Greek caverns. It's a wonderfully literal 2000-year excursion to take the stairs from the gleaming administrative heart of modern Arles, down to three vaulted chambers that may have housed shops or storage cellars under the Roman forum.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arles attractions

1. Hôtel de Ville

Completed in 1676, and still the seat of Arles' government, the handsome Town Hall is also the entrance to the subterranean Roman Cryptoportiques.

2. Église St-Trophime

0.03 MILES

Named for Arles' semi-mythical first archbishop, this Romanesque-style church, built over a 5th-century basilica, was a cathedral until the bishopric…

3. Place du Forum

0.06 MILES

Just as social, political and religious life revolved around the forum in Roman Arles, so the busy plane-tree-shaded place du Forum still buzzes with life…

4. Museon Arlaten

0.07 MILES

Arles' cultural museum, founded all the way back in 1889 with the intent of documenting regional culture, styles and creators, is closed for renovations…

5. Théâtre Antique

0.09 MILES

It's easy to admire the grace and engineering of this theatre – built at the behest of the unofficial first Roman Emperor, Augustus, in the 1st century BC…

6. Espace Van Gogh


The 16th-century hospital where Van Gogh had his ear stitched on and was later locked up hosts the occasional exhibition (which attracts an entry fee). At…

7. Fondation Vincent Van Gogh

0.13 MILES

Housed in a listed 15th-century manor, now twice repurposed (its other incarnation was as a bank), this Van Gogh–themed gallery is a must-see, as much for…

8. Thermes de Constantin

0.15 MILES

These partly preserved Roman baths were built for Emperor Constantin's private use in the 4th century. While much of the complex has been built over…