The Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a lovely walking route through the landscapes that inspired Vincent van Gogh for his paintings while he received treatment inside the asylum of the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole.
It takes around one hour to complete the walking trail. The entire Van Gogh trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence includes 21 reproductions of the artist paintings facing the very scenes that inspired him. On each of the reproduction panels, it introduces an excerpt from a letter Van Gogh wrote to his mother, brother, or others, telling them about his progress and his painting. And, the short context is in both French and English. These 21 reproductions are in three areas:
- Saint-Rémy-de-Provence old town
- Along with the Avenue Pasteur
- Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
We parked our car in front of the Tourist Information office, which could offer a flyer with a map of the walk. But it was closed during lunchtime. Just in front of the tourist office, there is a plaque showing one reproduction of Van Gogh’s artwork.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Old Town
The trail starts in the centre of the old town near the Musée Estrine and snakes through the old town. We recognized the track by following the metal sign on the ground with the word “Vincent” on it. Before we entered the old town, in front of an arched gate, we spotted the next artwork of the street scene at that time. But the only thing left of Van Gogh’s village street scene that inspired him is the line of enormous plane trees.
The Rue de la Commune leads us to the centre of the old town. At a small square shaded by plane trees, there is a Van Gogh’s autoportrait.
In front of the Musée Estrine is the next panel. The context of this reproduction is about how Van Gogh interpreted the colour of his painting. To better appreciate Van Gogh’s contribution to modern and contemporary arts, visitors can discover the “Van Gogh Interpretation Centre” inside the museum.
The old town is full of charms. Colourful shutters were so bright in the sunshine. Many shops placed a set of cute chairs and a table decorated with flowers to welcome passers-by. I couldn’t stop taking photos of those scenes. Besides, the typical narrow streets in this Provence town had also shared my attention.
The Avenue Pasteur
We continued walking up the Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence by following the Avenue Pasteur to the South. Van Gogh made some of the most famous paintings on the spots along this road. It’s a pity that part of the great country views on Van Gogh’s paintings is fenced or blocked by walls of the suburban residents.
Each reproduction has a short title about the work of the artist, and most are of the landscape. Excerpts of letters Van Gogh wrote revealed his inner struggling and imaginative. He also wrote about his progress during his stay in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Those letters also reveal Van Gogh’s interpretation of the colours in nature. The luminous colours of those paintings insinuated the state of his soul. Perhaps, Van Gogh was a “sane” artist who was painting an “insane” society.
It was in the high summer. Cicadas were busy singing in nearly constant pitch, distracting us from the heat. On roadside bushes, there were many white snails, so little that isn’t large enough to be recognized in the distance.
The roadside street Avenue Dr. Edgar Leroy, also lined with more panels of reproduction, leads the way to the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole.
Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
The educational stroll came to an end at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole, the last part of Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Before entered the Monastery, we passed a black statue of Van Gogh, in lean and withered shape. He painted the hospital as well. Having paid a small fee, we could visit his studio inside the asylum, a place which is still a psychiatric health institution.
Next to the chapel of Saint-Paul de Mausolé in Saint Rémy de Provence, we spotted the small courtyard, colourful and well-maintained. After passing a long corridor and walking upstairs, we entered a small room, which is a reproduction of the place where Van Gogh was confined. He used to stand behind the fenced window and painted the scene outside. From the top of the stairs, we could see the wheat field that Vincent Van Gogh used to paint during his stay.
Van Gogh came to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in May 1889, after living in Arles. He found his motives in the garden of the hospital and painted them on many of his paintings. We also went to the field of the Monastery, which grew sunflowers and lavenders. There were further two reproductions of Van Gogh’s artworks.
Our tips of Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Plan enough time for the walk
If you only want to walk the trail and visited the Monastery, it takes around one hour. But if you also want to study his artworks and take photos alongside the walk, then you need more time. This walk is well worth the time. It took us around three hours.
In addition to the walking trail, the old town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is well-worth the visit. Private mansions from the Renaissance, beautifully restored homes, and chapels line the winding streets of the old quarter.
The town is a source of inspiration for many artists who have chosen to live there. Therefore, the place has numerous studios and art galleries, which are also worth exploring. Art lovers can visit Route des Artistes and Creators’ Market during the summer.
Stay a few days in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
It is worth staying a couple of days in this old town and explore the above things. The village is a good base to explore the hilltop villages in Luberon, Avignon, and Arles.
Join a tour to explore the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and other places
An organized tour will combine the visit to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence with other places, such as Arles, where you can also find some reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings as well. Tours usually start in Arles, Avignon, or Marseille:
- Avignon: Full-Day Best of Provence Tour
- Marseille: Full-Day Les Baux de Provence Wine Tour
- Arles: Alpilles Regional Park Provence 4×4 Safari
How to get there
- Bus Line 54 from Arles goes to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The journey takes about 40 minute.
- Bus Line 57 from Avignon goes also to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The journey takes about 30 minutes.
- And it take about 30 minutes to drive there from both places.