Church of St Trophime, Arles

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Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

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Compared with the marvellous west front, the inside of the cathedral is almost a let down as it is very plain. The nave is a typical Romanesque nave – very tall and narrow with narrow side aisles. The only light comes from clerestory windows high in the walls. The transepts are small and have been incorporated into the ambulatory.

On the north and south walls of the church are C17th Aubusson tapestries, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.

Don’t miss the two beautiful C4th Sarcophagi which form the altars of chapels in the north aisle and north transept. The carving on them is exquisite.

In the south aisle is the Chapel of the Kings which was created by Archbishop Gaspard de Laurens in the early C17th for a visit by Louis XIII. It is completely different to the rest of the church as it is a wonderful example of gilded Baroque architecture. There is the remains of a wall painting on the north wall.

The ambulatory round the chancel has chapels off it. The most impressive is the Chapel of the relics on the north side, with its fine collection of relics in gilded boxes and frames. One is supposed to be the skull of St Etienne which was brought back from Palestine by St Trophime the first Bishop of Arles.

The chapel of the Virgin is at the east end and has C17th marble statue of Mary with Jesus in her arms. Next to it is the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. Again the altar is made from a C5th sarcophagus with the figure of Christ in the centre with St Peter and St Paul. This is different to the other sarcophagi as the carving is much simpler in design. Above is a C16th sculpture of the Entombment.

The church is free to enter and is well with visiting. Not only is it an excellent example of Romanesque architecture, there are the early Christian sarcophagi and the C17th tapestries. The collection of relics is also very impressive.

After visiting the church, don’t miss the Cloisters next door!

I visited Arles on Day 6 of Burgundy, the River Rhone and Provence, a river cruise with Riviera Travel.

My full account with all the pictures can be found “here.”:


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