Skip to main content

Visit to the Musee Reattu in Arles

A mix of works by Réattu, Picasso, photographers and sculptors

featured in Sights reviews Author Stephen McGurk, Provence Reporter Updated

The Musée Réattu emanates an air of secrecy, long forgotten tales and unsettled uprising within its courtyards and high ceilinged rooms.

Situated in a small back street of Arles the museum was originally a bastion for the Knights of the Order of Malta and retains emblems and hidden passageways from their tender here. The overhanging gargoyles remain a foreboding warning to all who walk under them to confide in only their trusted allies.

After the reign of The Knights of Malta the space was purchased along with the surrounding lots over a period of years by Jacques Réattu to be used as his studio and a space for his growing collection. He had returned to Arles to as political events at the time laid waste to any thoughts he had of a career in a professional capacity and he created many of his works within these walls.

A fantastic piece on display is “Death of Alcibiades” which is unfinished and therefore lets us glimpse into the methods and techniques Réattu used in his paintings. It contains the outlines he used as his guide and shows how he pieced his paintings together.

a painting in a museum in Arles

Picasso donated many of his drawings to the museum after becoming enamoured with the place. His sketches here are instantly recognisable as his work and have a more erotic edge than normal. As a centrepiece to the room there is a fantastic sculpture by Zadkine which lays out across the floor and captures the attention of everyone who walks past it on this quiet Saturday morning.

a sculpture in a museum

Climbing some flights of stairs and under some unique wooden beams the top floor contains a photography exhibition depicting a certain style of American life. Multiple photographers are showcased in the collection containing some portraits of well-known figures across a wide span of disciplines.

The Museum contains a really worthwhile collection and the choice of contemporary and classic art on display creates an interesting mix and maintains interest throughout. A section dedicated to the history of the building itself transports us back to times when maps were hand drawn and attests to the museum - and Arles; place in art history.

Entry to the Musée Réattu is €8 and is also covered under the Avantage and LIberté pass available from the tourist office. A combination ticket including the Musée Réattu and The Van Gogh Foundation is available for €12

The museum is closed every Monday

Opening times are:
2nd November – 28th February : 10am to 5pm
1st March – 31st October: 10am to 6pm
Closed on 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25 December

Photographs are allowed within the museum without the use of a flash.

Read more about Arles and discover more sights & attractions to see in Provence.


Map of the surrounding area