Saturday, 8 July 2017

Exploring Provence: St Remy

Luckily for me, whilst I was in Provence I had a packed with me a tip top guide in the form of my mother. She's been back and forth to the general area a fair few times and so had a number of places on her hit list for me to visit before we left.

First stop therefore was St Remy. 

St Remy is probably most famous for being the place where Van Gogh spent a year in the Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery, a psychiatric institution where he produced some of his most famous paintings. More on that later, but first, lunch. 

Mum took me to a little restaurant called 'Gus' which was thoroughly French and thoroughly enjoyable. We sat outside under wide umbrellas and made our way through beautifully presented (and very tasty) food whilst attempting to chat to the waiter in rusty, broken French.

Feeling sufficiently refuelled, we headed up towards the monastery, pausing along the way to read extracts of Van Gogh's letters displayed along the route.

(We also came across these rather amazing Roman ruins, seemingly abandoned at the side of the road.)

The outside of the monastery was rather beautiful. Boarders were planted with colourful flowers and cyprus trees - there was a sense of peace over the whole area.

Inside, we found a courtyard filled with flowers.

With more flowers out back.

Upstairs, the mood is a bit more somber. Here you can find Van Gogh's room, complete with simple bed and small window looking out over the grounds.

Over the single year Van Gogh was living here in the monastery, he painted over 140 oil paintings and numerous drawings, many inspired by his surroundings. Nowadays, the monastery is still a hospital and art created by the patients is available to buy.

Whilst in the garden, we met an American and his daughter who recommended we visit the Carrières de Lumières exhibition taking place nearby. This turned out to be an incredible projection-art show taking place in a gigantic quarry. Works of art were blown up and projected all over the cavernous space, animated and set to music. The result was totally immersive and somewhat breathtaking! 

As you stood in the space, monsters, angels and other creatures bloomed around you as  the paintings oBosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo came to life. The exhibition was so totally unexpected and blew me away! 

Our day ended with a bus ride back to Avignon. St Remy had been beautiful and full of surprises - I'd definitely recommend a visit to this little town should you get the chance! 


  1. Isn't Provence something else? The Carrières de Lumières looks beautiful, and quite surreal. It must have been a bit disorienting in the dark! I always love recommendations from other people, it usually turns out to be the real gems.

    1. Definitely agree there - taking advice and inspiration from other peoples' experiences is often a safe bet!

      KatieJane x


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