In the footsteps of Van Gogh

This Saturday, I took another day trip to further explore the beautiful Provence. This trip took us to Arles and Saint Rémy, which are famous as the homes of Vincent Van Gogh. We started the day by catching a bus to Arles, where we waited to take another bus to Saint Rémy. Since we only had an hour here, we stayed mostly around the main market that takes places every saturday. This market is much like the one in Aix, but in my opinion it is even better. The streets along which the market takes place are much wider than the ones in Aix, proving more space to walk and browse. Van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889, during which time he produced over 300 paintings including Cafe Terrace at Night. You can walk around the city and look for plaques showing his works at the actual site where he painted them. There is also the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. I hope to get back to Arles soon to do more sightseeing of the city itself.

that's a lot of cheese!

meat vendor

colorful macarons

After buying supplies for a picnic lunch, the group boarded the bus to the nearby town of St Rémy. It was in this town that Van Gogh spent his time in the psychiatric center at the monastery St Paul de Mausole. We did a walking tour of the city, following the plaques depicting his famous works on their original sites. The tour took us to the monastery, which was absolutely beautiful.

enjoying our picnic- cheese and baguette, anyone?

Van Gogh was here

the monastery

inside the cloister

Across the street from Van Gogh’s hospital are the Roman ruins of Glanum. It was originally settled by a celtic tribe, but they were defeated by the Romans in 90BC and was eventually rebuilt as a Roman city. We saw the Mausoleum of the Julii, which was built in 40BC and according to Wikipedia is the best preserved Roman mausoleum in the world.


Beside it is the Triumphal Arch of Glanum. This was built by the Romans to celebrate their success in conquering Glanum and to remind the Gaulish people of Rome’s might. The ruins are huge and you can take a tour of the whole town, but we decided after seeing the two most famous monuments to save our euros.

the arch

group photo courtesy of Martin

When we walked back down into Glanum, we stopped in a huge church and poked around there and then stumbled across the birthplace of Nostradamus, the 16th century apothecary, seer, and author of The Prophesies. You never know what you’ll come across in Europe!

As always, this proved to be a wonderful day trip, and I would highly recommend stopping by Arles and St Rémy if you’re ever passing through Provence. I can’t wait to go back to Arles to explore some more. It’s hard to believe that my semester abroad is already half over! Last week we took midterms and this week is the last week before fall break. On Tuesday I jet off to Rome for 5 days! I’m excited to share that adventure when I get back.

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