Arles is a fairly large city with a small historical center that dates back to Roman times and there are many significant Roman ruins there. It sits along the Rhone River and was also famously the home to Vincent van Gogh from 1888-1889. Because of its strategic location it was inhabited first by Ligurians in 800 BCE and then Romans around 123 BCE expanding the port capabilities. By the 5th century the population was 100,000 and it was considered the center of Gaul.
Emperor Constantine spent considerable time here and built a number of important structures, best known are the baths of which very little remains. Over the centuries it was the location for many conflicts both religious, political, and economic. Once the railroad was built the port diminished and Arles became more of a backwater and hence popular with artists and now tourists.