Saint Rémy de Provence is just 12 miles south of Avignon, the capital of the department of Vaucluse in Provence. It’s a small town that’s buzzy and vibrant from spring to autumn and a bit sleepy in the winter months. The boulevards and narrow cobblestone streets that wind through the old city make it a living photo opp on every corner, and the plane trees that are such a feature of Provence grow tall and splendid. The central shopping area and stone fountain dedicated to the town’s most famous resident, Nostradamus, are picture perfect.
We highlight 5 must sees in St Remy:
Site Archéologique de Glanum
South of St-Rémy lie the magnificent ruins of Glanum and Les Antiques. Les Antiques is a cenotaph rather than a sepulchre, as originally thought. It stands next to a fine triumphal arch, giving access to the city of Glanum, built over 2,000 years ago. It’s a worthwhile and well-interpreted diversion – don’t forget to look for the fossilised shells in the limestone pavements.
St. Paul de Mausole
The artist Vincent Van Gogh was treated here in the psychiatric centre a few minutes south of St-Rémy. He stayed at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole after he relieved himself of one of his ears. It was here that he painted The Starry Night, one of his best loved works. Surrounded by peaceful gardens, parts of the monastery are open to the public and you can see works of art by Van Gogh hanging above the main staircase. You can also see the room where the artist was confined while undergoing psychiatric tests.
Follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps
During the time that Van Gogh spent in the monastery, he created almost 300 pieces of art. Follow in his footsteps on the Van Gogh route to take a journey through his painting, from the fields and through a landscape that’s recognisable. Details http://www.vangoghroute.com/france/saint-remy-de-provence/
Taste of Provence
Visit the Moulin du Calanquet, a family owned company of five generations which produces olive oil and other delicious gastronomic products. You can do a tasting, see a film about olive oil production and, it’s the perfect place to shop for a delicious souvenir.
Built in 1814, the original fountain featured a bust of Louis XVI. It was replaced with a bust of Nostradamus, in 1859. Nostradamus, whose full name was Michel de Nostredame, was a French physician and astrologist, famous to this day for his predictions of the future.
And just one more tip…
If you’re there at the right time (May or June) you’ll witness the annual Transhumance. Every year, sheep farmers prepare their flocks to leave the warmer, lower fields and sheds and move to the upper slopes. Here they spend the summer grazing on wild herbs in the cooler air. It’s quite a festival to see 4000 sheep, lambs, rams, goats and donkeys, herded by shepherds in traditional costume marching through the town on their way to summer pastures.
St. Remy is a great base for excursions to dozens of quaint little towns like Gordes, Roussillon and Uzes as well as larger, more populated towns like Aix, Avignon and Arles. And, if you go once, you’ll always find yourself longing to return…
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