Rivaled only by the even better-preserved version in Nîmes, the arena dominating old Arles was built in the first century AD to seat 21,000 people, with large tunnels through which wild beasts were forced to run into the center. Before being plundered in the Middle Ages, the structure had three stories of 60 arcades each; the four medieval towers are testimony to a transformation from classical sports arena to feudal fortification. Complete restoration began in 1825,
and today the arena holds nearly as many people as it once did. It's primarily a venue for the traditional spectacle of the corridas (bullfights), which take place annually during the féria pascale, or Easter festival. The less bloodthirsty local variant Course Carmarguaise (in which the bull is not killed) also takes place here. Festivities start with the Fête des Gardians on May 1, when the Queen of Arles is crowned, and culminate in early July with the award of the Cocarde d'Or (Golden Rosette) to the most successful raseteur. Tickets are usually available, but for the more popular fights, it is advisable to book ahead.
24 bis, Rond Point des Arènes, Arles, 13200, France
/04–90–18–41–20; /08–91–70–03–70-Courses Carmarguaise