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Arles: Feria du Riz Food and Fashion

In Arles there seems to always be a party going. Arles’ Feria du Riz is one of the best.

Arles, a town less than an hour down the road that’s mostly famous for being one of Van Gogh’s “hangouts”.  The Feria du Riz, the annual Rice Harvest Festival, celebrates one of the region’s top crops — rice.

Rice in Arles

Arles is on the northern edge of the Camargue which has been the subject of a few earlier blogs. Just as bulls, white horses and flamingos are indigenous to the area, rice has been produced in the Camargue since the Middle Ages. Today there are some 200 rice producers in this small area, representing about 5% of rice production in Europe. Camargue’s “red rice” is a popular local souvenir.


Interestingly, the Feria du Riz is a very Spanish celebration to be in France. The food and the fashions are straight from Spain.

Before I get much farther, though, let me set the scene for Arles’ Feria du Riz

When you drive into the old city of Arles, there’s a long avenue with cafes and shops that leads to a lovely park with a walkway that leads to the ancient areas of the town — the arena and the amphitheater. For the Feria, the avenue is spread with carnival-like booths with food vendors and souvenirs.

Arles' Feria du Riz


Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

At cafes along the way, the ohm-pah-pah bands are warming up the crowd for the afternoon festivities.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Road barriers lined the street for the running of the bulls scheduled for the early afternoon.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Since this is a Rice Harvest Festival the food booths along the way were showing off their take on  — a Spanish favorite that matches the theme of the Feria.

I was starving when I hit town, and this was the first paella stand in line, so it was my pick.

Arles' Feria du Riz

I sat on the steps of a fancy hotel and restaurant and gulped down a serving of paella with a bottle of water. It hit the spot on the already hot day.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

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As I walked down the street, I wasn’t certain the place I stopped was the best choice. It all looked so good!

Arles' Feria du Riz
These photo-perfect folks were putting out some fabulous kebab dishes.

Arles’ Feria du Riz is about food.

One popular food offering was kebabs — in all varieties. There were kebabs in sandwiches and kebab “stew” served over frites (french fries). The kebab mixtures were steaming away in huge pans, just as the paella.

Then there were the fish specialties — a Fisherman’s plate with calamari and pots of steaming moule (mussels).

Arles’ Feria du Riz is about fashion.

My favorite stop of the day was a sidewalk shop with Spanish dresses, skirts, and all the frills. I had to hold myself back from buying one of the skirts. Imagine a holiday party wearing one of these!

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Arles’ Feria du Riz is about the scenery.

Beyond the vendors, I walked to the entrance to the park and walkway to the old town.

Arles' Feria du Riz

Arles' Feria du Riz

When I went up the steps and around the town building, the beautiful village of Arles lay before me, with buildings and roadways centuries ago. People were everywhere, in every square, eating and enjoying festivities and socializing on the warm September Sunday.

During the Feria, one of the famous squares in the city is a showcase of artisans and regional foods.

Arles' Feria du Riz

To my surprise, one of the new products being displayed was barbeque sauces. In France? I could hardly believe my eyes. Of course, I had to strike up a conversation with the owners to tell him I’d been to Memphis in May — the barbeque event of the year. He knew it well and hoped to make it there someday himself.

Arles' Feria du Riz


After spending most of the afternoon walking around the town and checking out the food stands, it was time for the bulls to run in the street. This time, I knew how to get up close and personal. For the next post, though. Along with all the fanfare surrounding a bullfight in southern France. Stay tuned!


Arles' Feria du Riz


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