A marvellous menu in Arles

The Hedonist: What to see and where to be seen

Trains run direct from Marseilles airport – and it only takes 40 minutes to get right into the heart of Arles – so we arrive unfashionably early. Happily, we'd already bagged one of the 13 incredibly covetable rooms at the Hotel Particular on 4 Rue de la Monnaie (00 33 4 90 52 51 40; hotel-particulier.com), an urban mansion in the heart of the city. It's an aristocratic townhouse with four-poster beds, gilt-framed mirrors and rooms in cooling white combined with communal areas imbued with a subtle Moroccan vibe.

Time flashes by and soon it's time to head to l'Ouvre Boite (00 33 6 32 41 60 58) a tapas bar on Rue du Cloître where dishes start at €4-6 for inventive combinations such as pêche trompette, courgette and ponzu sauce. The crowd are young and hungry for some night-time distraction. We get chatting to a group who take us to Cargo de Nuit at 7-9 Avenue Sadi Carnot (00 33 4 90 49 55 99; cargodenuit.com) where the DJs soon have us throwing all kinds of shapes (good and bad).

Next morning, with blistered heels and dry contact lenses still in my now bloodshot eyes, I could have lounged in the courtyard around the Hotel Particular's shady, intimate pool all day. But alas, my companion wanted to get out and see the town. After a coffee and a croissant at the Café d'Autrefois on Rue de la liberté (00 33 4 90 52 25 53; cafedautrefois.com), I'd perked up enough to do some exploring.

You can't ignore the artistic history of the place. Both Van Gogh and Picasso loved Arles, and Picasso loved bull-fighting, so we take a peek at the ring that he and Françoise Gilot used to frequent. It stands bang in the centre and still – controversially – hosts bull fights.

Less bloodthirsty is the Saturday morning market. We quickly loose ourselves in a sea of traders selling Provençal and Moroccan goods – including hordes of perfumed tomatoes. The aroma of garlicky tellines (teeny-tiny baby clams) wafts our way, thrust in our faces by the scoop, but we're aware of a feast waiting for us at lunch so we save our appetites.

Lunch hour approaching, we jump in a cab and set off for the legendary Bistro du Paradou at 57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux (00 33 4 90 54 32 70), a local institution set in the tiny village of Paradou, a 15-minute drive out of Arles. This bistro has seen a lot over the years – Jean Reno threw his wedding breakfast here, and there's often a whole host of celebrities dotted about the dining room. The pared-down food is Provençal simplicity at its best – warm home-baked bread and olive oil from the local vineyards. The starter of little fillets of red mullet is swiftly followed by Agneau du Pays, a rosemary-scented local lamb dish, and one of the largest cheese boards I had ever seen. We take dessert outside into the sunshine and manage to find room for a delicate tarte aux framboises.

Back in Arles, we stumble upon an artisanal chocolate shop from the Provence-based company Puyricard at 54 Rue de la République (00 33 4 90 93 46; chocolaterie.puyricard.fr) and buy a box of truffles, then just one more to check they are as good as we remember. They are.

Stuffed, we opt for a light dinner at Le Gibolin on 13 Rue des Porcelet (00 33 4 88 65 43 14), a tiny restaurant hidden up a back street with only a handful of tables. Wine is the main focus here, and the owner Brigitte will match your glass to your food – a fragrant honeyed white accompanied our creamy burrata cheese, with white figs and crusty bread.

It would be rude not to take a pastis or two afterwards at the Hôtel du Nord (00 33 4 90 93 44 44; nord-pinus.com) on Place du Forum, with its art-focused, fashion-conscious crowd. So we sit outside, opposite Le Café la Nuit, made famous by Van Gogh, and watch the bustling square.

A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little