St Remy de Provence is a small and delightful market town in the Alpilles area of Provence. The old town is full of hidden squares, fountains, little art galleries and boutiques, and is perfect to walk around in half a day.
There are many cafes and restaurants and a very lively market on Wednesday mornings takes over the centre of St Remy. In many ways St Remy corresponds to the idealised image of a Provencal town.
The old town is encircled by an elegant boulevard with high plane trees, and just outside of St Remy are two other key points of interest, the Roman remains at Glanum, and the asylum where Vincent van Gogh spent a year after lopping off his ear.
St-Paul-de-Mausole is the monastery just outside of St Remy where van Gogh was staying when he painted some of his greatest works – Starry Night and Irises for example. There is a reproduction of his room there, and a lovely little cloister. An air of real calm pervades this monastery and it’s quite effecting, especially if you like van Gogh.
Although there are no original van Goghs in St Remy you can take a walk around the countryside and into town to the spots where he painted 21 of his canvases, each showing a copy of the painting. Details are available at the tourist office which is on the road to St-Paul-de-Mausole.
The walk is called ‘Promenade dans l’univers de Vincent van Gogh’ and it winds up at the Centre d’Art Présence Van Gogh at the Musee Estrine in the centre of town, with reproductions and slide shows of his work
Also out of St Remy on the road to Les Baux de Provence are the impressive remains at Glanum, an important Roman settlement in its time. A triumphal arch and a cenotaph are in excellent condition. These are actually situated by the car park for the excavations themselves. Here you can see the layout of the town, if not any great detail of the buildings themselves. But there is enough to give you a good impression of life in Roman times, making Glanum a must-see.