Well, the French part of this trip is over, and while I can’t say I’m thrilled to be leaving France, I am looking forward to visiting Barcelona for the very first time. Everyone says it is an amazing city.
And, I’m incredibly grateful to have spent the past few days in the ancient village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It’s been years since we’ve spent any real time in Provence and I’d forgotten how much I love this part of the world.
We’ve also been blessed with the most spectacular weather imaginable during our stay here – a couple of days of clear blue skies and a day of extremely impressive thunderstorms. The weather has given us all the things you want when you are running away from an Australian winter – clear even heat, sweetly scented air, warm raindrops and spectacular light.
Now, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is (unsurprisingly, given how pretty it is) popular with tourists – particularly on a Wednesday, which is market day – so I know many who read this will have already experienced this jewel of the French south. But for those still plotting and planning their first visit to the birth place of Nostradamus, here are my top 5 things to do in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
- Get inspired. The light, the beauty, the history. You can’t help but be inspired to do something creative. Paint. Write. Take amazing photographs. Draw. Cook. Design. Decorate. Daydream and journal. Seriously, I understand why so many of the world’s great creatives have spent time in and around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
- Visit Saint-Paul de Mausole, via the Van Gogh walk. This easy – it’s approximately one kilometre long, with a slight incline – self guided walk takes you from the centre of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to the hospice where Vincent van Gogh lived for a short time towards the end of his life. Along the way, interpretive signage gives you an insight into both Vincent’s works of art and his tortured soul. Originally built as a monastery (and still operating as a modern day psychiatric hospital), Saint-Paul de Mausole offers visitors the opportunity to see where Vincent lived while in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence as well as an understanding of the landscapes that inspired many of his most famous artworks. The beautiful cloisters and gardens add something special to the visit.
- Go to Glanum. Just a few more steps from Saint-Paul de Mausole you will find the archeological site of Glanum. Given Glanum was established in the 6th century BC and abandoned around 250 AD, the site is amazing well preserved and definitely worth a visit. If you are short on time, the ‘Antiques’ which sit outside the main reserve will give you a glimpse into Glanum, but I highly recommend you pay the small admission fee and visit the whole site. After all, it’s not everyday that most of us get to explore an archeological site that features both Roman and pre Roman relics.
- Try the local rosé wine. If you were born in Australia during the 1970’s, you might be tempted to stop reading immediately. As our generation was growing up, rosé had the worst possible reputation. Sweet, pink and yuck. But, I promise it is worth you trying the rosé here. Dry and cool, it is in the glasses of locals and travellers alike – and for very good reason.
- Shop. Ok – not quite so cultural. But Saint-Rémy-de-Provence provides some excellent shopping opportunities – particularly when it comes to homewares and clothing. You’ll find very few big name chain or franchise stores and lots of artisans. And the shopping district is not so big that you get overwhelmed, although you do have to be prepared to duck into some of the winding back streets to find the true gems. It’s very lucky for my credit card that I chose to travel with carry-on sized luggage only…
Your turn now. Have you ever visited Saint-Rémy-de-Provence? Got any tips for travellers or Francophiles? If so, please feel free to share in the comments below.
And until next time – au revoir.