Monday, June 4, 2012

A Voyage to Van Gogh's South of France

A trip I have been planning since I moved here, my Van Gogh mecca finally came into being on a three day weekend just recently. My girl friends, Julie, Shabari and I, rented a car and drove to the South of France to visit the landscapes and towns which inspired Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings- Arles and St. Remy- as well as visit other famous towns of the region: Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles.
We arrived late Friday night in the town of Arles, and woke up the following morning to look down on the breakfast courtyard of our cute little hotel in the old part of town:
We spent our first day wandering the streets of Arles.  Notice the purple lanterns lining the streets:
Shabari & Julie, my South of France partners-in-crime:
The River Rhone! Picture these lanterns lit at night and the stars shining bright above and you've got Van Gogh's "Starry Night on the Rhone."
The inspiration for "Night Cafe:"

A very happy street performer. I love this photo!
This is the hospital Van Gogh visited to get his ear sewn up after his argument with Gauguin:

A Saturday food market: Olives!
Mini sausages:
A colosseum. I guess it still hosts bull fights now-a-days.
Van Gogh's yellow house was destroyed during WWII, but something about this street corner reminded me of his painting of the house he inhabited during his time in Arles, and then that yellowish building on the right was a shop called "Yellow House." Hmmm...
Lunch stop:

On the road again to St. Remy, the town where he voluntarily checked himself into a mental hospital, and painted 150 paintings in one year's time.
Single cypress trees suggesting "Starry Night."
St. Remy:

Everywhere in the South of France, you'll find lavender for sale. We missed the lavender fields' blooming, because we were about a month too early.
Cicadas = a sign of good luck.

The house where Nostradamus was born:
On the road again to Aix-en-Provence. No lavender, but fields of poppies:
Our apartment which we rented through airbnb:

Walking around Aix:
There was a festival in town that weekend called "This is the South." We caught this Cuban band one night:

Mmm...French pastries and breads...
A Sunday food market! We stocked up on cheese, salami, and fruit for a picnic lunch in the courtyard of our rented apartment.

As part of the festival, we saw these two girls doing a modern interpretive dance on a chandelier.

The girls perusing menus outside cafes:
We did a lot of eating :)
On our last day, we drove to Marseilles only because our guidebook kept using words like "seedy" and "sketchy" and so we couldn't resist a quick Monday morning stop-by.
This port town boasts a North Africa-meets-southern-Europe feel. A little Arabic:
Our only hint of seediness, poor Ali's fate:
This basilica reminded us of Sacre-Coeur of Paris and The Duomo of Florence. It's Byzantine.
A Monday food market! We sure lucked out on the markets...
And finally our road trip complete, driving back to Barcelona:
The South of France is lovely, and though this trip was a quick overview of four towns in just three days, now I know to where I'd like to return for a longer, slower spell of painting and writing.  Such beautiful light, bright colors, and friendly people...

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