We are back a couple of days now from our Summer holiday in Provence and the Cote d’Azur on the French Riviera and I am sharing some snaps we took and a little bit about each of the places we visited.
We had originally decided that we would have our holiday in Venice and Verona, Italy this year. I especially wanted to go to the Opera in Verona which starts at the end of June. But darn it! Billy Joel announced his concert here in Dublin for 23 June (clashing with the Verona Opera Festival) and as he doesn’t seem to tour too much I thought it might be the last chance I get to see him, so I bought two tickets and our holiday destination changed. July and August in Italy would just be too hot for me and I would probably melt so it was going to have to be June. Heat that hot would have the same effect on me as water has on the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Truth.
So our holiday destination changed to Provence, a place I have longed to go to for many years. Our itinery (this makes me sound so organised!) went as follows: hubby and I flew into Marseilles, got a bus (took 10 mins) to pick up our rental car and drove to St Remy de Provence, where we would base ourselves for 6 nights.
We visited some lovely towns and villages, Gordes, Bonnieux, L’isle sur la Sorgue, Chateauneuf de Pape, Les Baux de Provence, Arles and obviously St Remy and then travelled to Aix-en-Provence for 2 nights where we dropped the car. After that we stayed three nights in Nice and visited Monaco on a day trip. We then flew home from Nice Airport. These places mentioned above, I will put in another post. This post however, is about St Remy.
This was a lovely drive in to St Remy, a tree tunnel of Plane trees, very French.
St Remy de Provence
St Remy de Provence is a lovely Provençal town near the Alpilles mountain range. It is the birthplace of Nostradamus and Vincent Van Gogh lived here for a year being treated in a psychiatric asylum.
There are many picturesque winding streets with lovely buildings that have colourful painted shutters.
St Remy gets lots of tourists and you can see evidence of this by the amount of boutique shops filled with wares geared at us tourists.
Eating out is not cheap. The food is good, but I did not think it was value for money and a tad expensive, not too bad for dinner, but lunch was just as dear. A bug bear for me is that I want to eat when I want to eat and sometimes it would be late afternoon, but I found in Provence, they only served food up to 2:30pm for lunch then the restaurants would only serve beverages up until about 6:30pm when the dinner menu would be on. So unless you got something from the Boulangerie you went hungry until the evening.
There are plenty of restaurants serving good food, the photo above was the restaurant we had our dinner on our first night.
St Remy Market
The market is vibrant and full of colour. It is held on Wednesdays and you need to get there early as stalls start packing up about 1pm. We were down there just after 9am which was a nice time before it got too busy. The stalls spill through the winding streets into the centre square.
This was the most impressive array of olives I have ever seen
Lots of fruits, vegetables, meats, cooked food, fish, cheeses, you name it they had it and it all looked wonderful and healthy!
I don’t think I ever saw so much garlic in one place and looking so colourful!
Of course I had to buy a couple of bottles of wine from this stall.
Everywhere you go in Provence there is lavender for sale and the smell is just lovely.
These soaps smelled amazing!
Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
From the centre of town there is the Van Gogh walk, which is about 1 km. The path long the route has brass markings with Vincent on them so you know you are going in the right direction. You can see reproductions of his paintings at the places where he painted them throughout the walk. The end brings you to the Monastery where Van Gogh received psychiatric treatment for a year towards the end of his life.
It is here in St Remy where he painted over 150 paintings including “Starry night”.
Above is Van Gogh’s bedroom in the Monastery.
Just across the road from the Monastery is Glanum, an ancient Roman site and the photo above shows the triumphal arch that was built during the early Roman empire. This was the entry road to Glanum, an important Roman settlement.