In 1970, Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, writer Michel Tournier and historian Jean‑Maurice Rouquette founded the Rencontres d’Arles, an annual photography festival.
At the time, photography was still regarded as a “minor” art and had not come of age. The festival in Arles played an important role in enabling it to gain recognition from institutions. Starting out as a series of encounters between photography enthusiasts, over the years the event gained importance and much popularity, with soaring success in the early 2000s due to a growing public interest in photography.

For over 50 years, photography’s greatest names have participated in the Rencontres d’Arles, a veritable breeding ground for new talent. Anticipating medium changes and technologie evolutions, offering the experience of the image to all: these are the festival’s ambitions. Its program is made rich through a diversity of perspectives, with photographers and curators hailing from different backgrounds. Occasionally a whole program section is offered to an artist, as the case for Martin Parr, Raymond Depardon, Nan Goldin and Arles’ own fashion designer Christian Lacroix. At other times, breaking down the divides, photography is made in relation with cinema, music or architecture. Year after year, the festival tries to interpret a changing world through the eyes of photographers, unquestionably the best at telling story.

Between early July and late September, the public is invited to explore 40 exhibitions at various heritage sites throughout the city, from 12th-century chapels and cloisters to 19th-century industrial buildings and contemporary, if not unexpected sites (such as the Monoprix and its façade, classified 20th-century heritage).
During the opening week in July, all of Arles lives to the beat of photography. A place of exchanges with creators, the festival invites the public to join artists and curators on the program for exhibition tours, panel discussions, conferences, book signings and readings. Projections, concerts and performances liven up the evenings. During the famous Night of the year, the festival’s unmissable festive event, visitors party under the stars until dawn.

The Rencontres d’Arles is at work year-round with an active program on the practice of photography and image education. Courses run by reputed professionals are offered, allowing participants to fulfil their creative pursuits. The “Rentrée en images” welcomes over 10,000 students trained in reading images.
In recent years, the festival has also been collaborating regionally with exhibitions for Grand Arles Express (in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Marseille, Nîmes, Toulon, etc.). It also goes global through international initiatives, like in Xiamen, China, where the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival has taking place in November since 2015.
  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture