Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St Remy de Provence

We weren't in a hurry to leave for St Remy, Arles was like an old friend that required a longer goodbye. She still had a lot to reveal to us but the market was calling us and we needed to add some of its delights to the boot of our Citroen for our week in St Remy. As we walked the stalls of the market, my eyes were drawn to some of the architecture nearby. You can see the early Roman influence, the protectional fortifications of the city walls and then the more recent memorials to the soldiers and local residents that sacrificed their lives in WWII.
How fortunate are we to be born in Australia where our major conflicts were outside our boundaries. Our young men fought for King and Motherland elsewhere to seek adventure and to see the world.

St Remy lies north of Arles and east of Tarascon.
The Apilles mountains surround the town on the outskirts.

We arrived at St Remy and this cafe became our regular stopping off point most days. Occasionally  we would walk up from our villa after dinner to absorb the local atmosphere in the square with an espresso and a liqueur on the balmy nights. How good is that?
It was about mid-day when we finally arrived back at the car with our shopping bags full of produce. The drive to St Remy was easy and we were ahead of time giving us an opportunity to become familiar with our surroundings for the next week. We needed a vino and so we found a cafe/bar in the local square. A place that we would be come more familiar with over the next week. We rang Josianne, the lady whom would be our landlady. We also found our villa and I'm sure I saw Josianne or her husband Louis driving by in their Renault, or was it a Citroen van.

Sue looks from her kitchen window.

Looking down the street where we stayed.
 As you opened the door, you needed to carefully look up the street before
actually walking onto the street.
 St Remy attracted our attention as a place to stay due to its interesting history. It was where Van Gogh spent a year (1889-90) at the St Paul de Mausole Hospital. He produced up to 150 paintings, many of which you can see reproductions around the village at the points where he painted them.
Nostradamus was born in St Remy in 1503 - there is a small fountain and a bust of his image tucked away within the small streets in the old village.

Van Gogh spent his latter years at St Remy producing a major part of his most famous work here.

Starry Night by Vincent.

St Remy was the early home of Nostradamus - this portrait painted by his son.

The Nostradamus fountain.

St Remy has a few of the ancient Ports or entrances still existing.

Another feature we were to be amazed by was the Roman ruins of Glanum which were unearthed as recently as 1921. The settlement dates back before the first century BC.
With a population of 11,000, it was just the size that made the place comfortable. Not too small and certainly not too big. In a few days you became familiar with your surroundings.

Parts of Glanum that were always visible - the actual settlement is across the road in a lower lying area and wasn't discovered until 1921.
Eventually we met Josianne at the appointed time outside the villa. She was so full of life and enthusiasm to meet us. She showed us around the villa with a sense of pride and explained how things worked. Before leaving us to relax, she invited us to join her and her husband for drinks a few days on.

The small courtyard was a wonderful spot to end our days with a glass of wine.
It offered a windless area as the warm Provence sun was setting.

How could I not add a picture of a bike?
I found this hanging on a wall in a small lane way of St Remy.
I finally had an opportunity now to unpack my bike for the first time and reassemble it for my first ride. Either walking or riding a bike gives the best way to explore your surroundings. I prefer the bike and as you ride, you take in the smells, sounds and the local atmosphere that you can't experience in the car.

This would be our home for the next week - what would St Remy and the surrounding areas of Provence offer us? Visit next Wednesday.


  1. I simply love Vincent's work. He's my favourite artist. I wouldn't mind having that 'starry' painting in my bedroom to wake up to every morning. Now you know what to buy me for my next birthday in April! :^) Martine

  2. I wrote few lines how I didn't care for the city then it downed on my that it was not St Remy but Aix-en-Provence that I didn't care for.

  3. Martine - I think I will put that in my diary for your birthday (it should look good in your new apartment) but remember, mine is April Fool's day.
    Vincent's painting of the yellow cafe is my fave - we enjoyed an espresso and a glass of wine there, while basking in the thought both he and Paul Gauguin probably did the same in 1888.

  4. Nadege - We did pass thru Aix on the previous trip - did you know it was the home of Paul Cezzane?

  5. Leon and Sue, Happy 2011!!
    We still have another 5 hours of 2010 to go, but you are already celebrating the new year. Have fun and all the best, good health, and many more interesting blog posts, good food and maybe another trip to Europe?! Martine

  6. Have a terrific, healthy, prosperous new year Sue and Leon!


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