An event not to be missed under any circumstances every summer, the Rencontres d’Arles have established themselves as an inevitable stop for photography enthusiasts and, more generally, art. An appointment that celebrates culture in all its diversity, French gastronomy, our rich heritage, and the art of travel, particularly through the sumptuous landscapes around Arles. Roadness invites you to enjoy an unforgettable experience at the Rencontres de la photo d’Arles.
Winding through the sinuous paths of Provence, the BMW Z4 M40i allowed us to fully experience the Rencontres d’Arles during this first summer week in July.
The festival, considered a benchmark in the world of photography, is celebrating its 54rd anniversary this year. After twenty years of supporting photography and ten years of the BMW Residency, BMW Group France gave a new direction to its artistic support in 2021 and reinvented its model.
Immersed with BMW, we take you on a unique journey to the heart of the Camargue & the Alpille…
First stop at the Cloître Saint-Trophime, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, is an architectural gem among Arles’ Roman and Romanesque monuments. The imposing building provides the ideal setting for the INSOLARE exhibition, by photographer Eva Nielsen and her curator Marianne Derrien, winners of the BMW ART MAKERS 2023 competition. A sponsorship program orchestrated by the Munich-based company to support the creation of an innovative visual arts project each year.
In a dozen works already completed, textures melt into a form of reverie akin to abstraction. These qualities are echoed in the landscapes of Camargue and Alpilles, the sources of inspiration for the INSOLARE exhibition, creating a fascinating contrast between the history engraved in stone and the contemporary expression of photography.
Take time to recharge your batteries. After a day rich in discoveries, we hit the road in a BMW Z4. The Z4, a roadster with an elegant, sporty design, offers an absolutely unique driving experience. Thanks to its electric roof, you can enjoy the scenery under clear skies. The ergonomic interior, low center of gravity, perfectly balanced driving dynamics and innovative technology make this vehicle a real pleasure to drive, especially on the picturesque roads leading to Uzes.
Iconic Power: BMW Z4 M40i Redefines Performance
The BMW Z4 is often considered one of the most attractive & enjoyable convertibles…
Uzès, a picturesque town in the Gard, is the perfect destination for a Z4 getaway. We start by strolling through the cobbled streets of the old town, admiring its medieval houses and taking a turn on the Place aux Herbes, famous for its lively market. Then, the must is to explore the surrounding countryside with the car roof down. Don’t miss visiting the Pont du Gard, a masterpiece of Roman architecture located a few kilometers away. For nature lovers, the Cévennes National Park offers beautiful panoramic routes. Uzès, with its rich heritage and natural beauty, is a must-see destination for a car excursion. …
We discover the Saint-Nicolas Bridge…Located near Uzès. It is situated over the Gardon River, providing a picturesque crossing if you’re travelling between these two cities. This bridge, of medieval origin, serves as a beautiful example of the region’s architecture and offers a stunning view of the river and surrounding greenery. Take a moment to stop and admire the scenery, perhaps even for a picnic if the weather permits. It’s a perfect little detour during your car trip around Uzès.
It’s time to head for Nimes. On arrival, we check into the Hotel L’Imperator, a renowned institution. This luxury hotel has played host to such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway and Picasso. Its rooms, though simple, are decorated with care, reflecting the relaxed atmosphere that reigns here.
On the culinary front, the experience is just as exceptional. Under the direction of three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire, the Imperator offers incredible culinary diversity. We had the opportunity to savor bold and refined dishes at the Duende gourmet restaurant, at the Impé brasserie and at the Hemingway bar.
The Revived Charm of the Imperator – Nîmes
The architectural renovation, orchestrated by l’Atelier COS and Marcelo Joulia from Naço…
DAY 2: This year, the festival offers an impressive selection of about fifty exhibitions. The choice among this diversity of exceptional presentations can be complex. However, at Roadness, we have made the pooling of our knowledge and passion a central value. This is why we have pre-selected for you the exhibitions not to be missed in Arles.
Each of these exhibitions, presented as part of the Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles, aims to bear witness, to immortalize the “decisive moment” or even to question our reality. They are all gathered around a common thread this year: “a state of consciousness”.
This major event highlights renowned photographers such as Agnès Verda, Saul Leiter, Diane Arbus, as well as contemporary talents. Among the latter, we can mention the SØSTERSKAP exhibition (sorority in Norwegian), presenting the work of Emma Sarpaniemi, one of the key artists of the 2023 edition.
The SØSTERSKAP exhibition explores the theme from an intersectional feminist perspective, giving voice to artists who embody a range of experiences and identities. The term ‘intersectionality’ describes how different social categories (including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class) interact and overlap, resulting in intersecting social identities that may be both empowering and oppressive.
Don’t miss the photographer’s exhibition of Saul Leiter. This exhibition presented for the first time at Arles brings together a selection of photographs, and paintings, most of them unpublished, and invites us to discover an œuvre where languages rub up against each other, speak to each other, speak to us of the vision of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating artist-photographers. If only we give them just a little more attention, these voices also tell us that the images are fragments containing enigmas, and that they journey through time and endure, intact, despite the darkness that may prevail in the world.
Strolling in Arles, it’s hard not to succumb to the charm of the little Arlesian alleys. This unique city, both bourgeois and decrepit, offers a thousand surprises. For example, a visit to the Frank Gehry Tower, a true lighthouse in the city.
The Luma Arles Foundation
Combining art, design, and environmental concerns, this state-of-the-art center, crowned by the Frank Gehry-designed tower, acts as a vibrant platform for creativity and innovation…
Maja Hoffmann, creator of the Luma Foundation and a visionary patron, wants tomake Arles one of the cultural capitals of the world. This 56-meter high tower, bright and bold, love it or hate it, is its symbol and its totem.
Lunch break? Head to the Collateral, right next to the Hôtel du Cloître, a hidden gem. Simple Iberico-Japanese tapas style cuisine. Terrace at the top. Relaxed service. We love it.
Fancy a drink to see and be seen? It’s the bar at the Grand Hôtel Nord Pinus you need to go to. On the terrace, obviously. It is said that Fernandel liked to drink his pastis there by dipping anchovies in it and that Peter Lindbergh often remakes the world there. An Arlesian institution. Finally, to make sure you don’t miss anything, head to the Louis Vuitton City Guide pop-up store.
For the fifth consecutive year, Louis Vuitton presents an updated version of its Arles City Guide with guest India Mahdavi, in tribute to the Camargue city and its internationally renowned festival. With exclusive shots of the metropolis and its surroundings by photographers Flore-Aël Surun from the Tendance Floue collective and the late Olivier Metzger, the guide leaves a special place for images. Available in bookstores in print, the revised edition can also be downloaded for free on the City Guide mobile app throughout the festival.
On the road with the Laureates. Our journey continues in the Camargue, accompanied by the photographer Eva Nielsen and her curator Marianne Derrien, winners of the BMW ART MAKERS 2023 program.
Taking country roads in the Camargue, he sometimes tight bends allow us to savor the comfort of the BMW Z4, a precious asset especially when we venture off the beaten track to explore thes preserved areas at the borders of the Rhône delta. This sponsorship program, implemented by the Munich firm, aims to support each year the realization of an innovative project in the field of visual arts.
The Camargue, a region shaped by man for salt extraction and particularly vulnerable to global warming, proved to be a real source of inspiration. Subjected to constant transformation due to rising waters, sedimentation, fires, and the growing impact of man, these factors constitute a permanent threat to these landscapes. It is in this context that Eva Nielsen chose to explore this vast region during the winter of 2023.
During her explorations, she made many encounters and captured nearly 4000 images. However, photography is only the beginning of the INSOLARE project. The rest of the process includes creation and many modifications, including insolation, a transfer technique used in screen printing, as well as overlays of various materials and mediums. This metaphor reflects the transformations that these lands have undergone for decades and which are accelerating exponentially today.
Rejuvenate in a relaxation oasis. Back at the Imperator Hotel in Nîmes, renowned for its luxury and timeless charm, wouldn’t be complete without its exceptional spa, a real haven of peace dedicated to well-being and relaxation.
Upon entering the spa at the Imperator Hotel, tranquility envelopes you and time halts. Aromatic scents and soft melodies enhance the serene ambience. Offering a myriad of body and facial treatments, the spa aims to nourish skin and induce deep relaxation. Expert therapists personalize treatments, blending traditional and modern techniques with high-quality products. Facilities such as a hammam, sauna, and jacuzzi provide diverse relaxation options. Post-treatment, unwind in the peaceful relaxation room. For fitness enthusiasts, a well-equipped gym and personal trainers are available. In essence, the Imperator’s spa experience contributes to a luxury getaway in Nîmes, meeting all wellness needs and expectations.
Always richer in emotion. For the last day of our journey, we opt for the serenity of the BMW i7. The electric version of the 7 Series, this German sedan is a real invitation to travel. The natural landscapes of the Alpilles are much more appealing and the temptation to take the wheel was immense.
This stay in Provence will remain engraved in our memory, as much for the beauty of the landscapes as for the richness of the artistic discoveries. After this immersion in the world of photography, we head to Château La Coste. Thanks to the American Andy Warhol, another renowned artist, we head to Château La Coste.
This vineyard, not far from Aix-en-Provence, is a real mine of surprises. From the moment you arrive, you are greeted by a massive spider by Louise Bourgeois. The estate harmoniously blends vineyards and buildings designed by some of the greatest contemporary architects, such as Jean Nouvel, Oscar Niemeyer, Tadao Andō, and Renzo Piano.
The Future is Here: The Groundbreaking BMW i7
The BMW i7, the marque’s inaugural fully electric sedan, has a classic silhouette…
As you walk around the vast park, you discover works of art, some monumental, others more discreet, integrated into the reliefs and vegetation. This bucolic and cultural walk is perfect for stimulating the appetite before enjoying a meal in one of the estate’s five restaurants. The highlight is undoubtedly the Villa La Coste restaurant, now under the direction of the famous chef Hélène Darroze.
The arts are obviously at the heart of the experience, with the Andy Warhol exhibition (until September 10, 2023) topping the bill. The master of pop art, inseparable from his camera, gives a glimpse of his era, a time when the everyday and the extravagances of New York nights mingled.
This journey to Camargue, combining cultural discoveries and natural panoramas, was an unforgettable experience. Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles, a true institution for visual arts enthusiasts, allowed us to explore new perspectives and immerse ourselves in contemporary creativity. This festival, deeply rooted in the region’s cultural richness, captivated us with its originality and diversity. The artworks presented, carried by talented artists such as Eva Nielsen and Marianne Derrien, opened a dialogue between art, the environment, and current societal issues. Our exploration of the Camargue and Alpilles regions, aboard various vehicles from the BMW range, was truly enchanting. These territories, characterized by their wild and preserved beauty, provided the perfect backdrop for this road trip, enriching our appreciation of the exhibited art.
This journey allowed us to combine sensory pleasure and cultural escape, in a setting filled with natural and heritage beauty. Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles and the road trip in Camargue formed a perfect symbiosis between art and nature, offering a true hymn to the beauty of the world and creative expression. We are eager to see what future editions of the festival have in store for us.