St. Rémy, St. Paul-de-Mausole & Carrières de Lumières

Saint Rémy de Provence

This elegant and charming town is one of the oldest in France. After the destruction of the Roman city of Glanum, St. Rémy redeveloped in its current location. One can see architectural heritage from the middle ages to contemporary times, and during the Renaissance, St. Rémy was famous for being the birth place of Nostradamus. Towards the end of the 19th century it began attracting painters, writers and musicians, most notably Vincent Van Gogh who painted over 150 canvases in one year during his time at St. Paul de Mausole hospital nearby.

Starting at the visitors center, one can walk to the asylum following the Route of Van Gogh. The distance is 1 km and takes around 1 hour to see the 19 reproductions describing the pieces that Van Gogh produced during his time in this area.

St. Rémy has a circular loop with plane trees creating a shady and elegant tunnel all the way around the interior village. On the inside you will find chic boutiques, an aromatherapy museum and many art galleries and restaurants.

Earlier this month the Transhumance Festival takes place. One of the most beautiful traditional festivals of Provence. Each year, herds of sheep leave Provence for the pastures of the Alps. 

This journey was formerly on foot, sometimes requiring more than ten days' march. This feast reconstitutes an ancient custom. 

It brings together every year the breeders of the region and their herds, more than 4000 ewes, lambs and rams as well as goats and transhumance donkeys framed by the shepherds in traditional costume parade in the morning around the town center. The animals are herded through the streets and of course there is a local festival to accompany the event.

You can either walk the Van Gogh trail or ride a short distance to the asylum where Van Gogh painted over 150 works in his 1 year at St. Paul-de-Mausole hospital. The grounds are beautiful and you can easily imagine Vincent painting the olive trees from this place. There is the option of visiting the asylum and accompanying gardens and courtyard and/or visiting the nearby ruins of Glanum.

Set in the heart of the Alpilles mountains, at a major crossroads, the Gallic city is steeped in Greek and Roman influences and found prosperity from the 2nd century B.C. The ruins are adjacent to the hospital. I find it interesting to note that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo about old stones and things he would come across on his walks around the asylum while painting. This site was later excavated to reveal the ancient city of Glanum that he was walking above.

This afternoon you are in for a treat! At nearby les Baux, the quarries built to erect the fortifications of this ancient village provide a cool respite for us this afternoon. Every year a new show is created featuring one or several artists. This year the show projected in the quarries (in a multi-media experience like no other) features the art of Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo. Click here for a sneak preview

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