About 20 km south of Avignon is Saint Rémy-de-Provence. My friends and I ended up here solely because of an article I had read in some travel magazine. It was the photos accompanying the article that had caught my eye, so what’s odd is I don’t seem to have taken many photos of Saint Rémy-de-Provence myself. I must have been incapacitated by the town’s beauty.
I do have this one of the town hall. It gives you an idea. I mean, what town hall in Canada is draped in flowers?
Saint Rémy-de-Provence has a bit of a gastronomic reputation, and I do remember a delicious steak with Roquefort sauce followed by profiteroles smothered in chocolate sauce and ice cream. When the waiter put the plate down in from of me, he muttered “Mon Dieu!” under his breath — more to himself, it seemed, than to me.
Just outside of Saint Rémy-de-Provence is Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery. We stopped in because it was here that Vincent van Gogh spent a year as a patient at its psychiatric hospital. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place.
On the grounds of the monastery were a series of signs identifying the olive trees that van Gogh painted during his stay. The signs were positioned in such a way that you could see the view that inspired each painting.
Prior to his stay at Saint-Paul de Mausole (which still functions as a hospital), van Gogh lived in Arles for a year. A sketchbook he is reported to have filled during that time, which he later gave to the owners of the Arles café where he lived, was published this week to much controversy. Which has put Vincent van Gogh at the top of the news once again.
All I can say is: The more we talk about art, the better off we’ll all be.