Follow the Remarkable Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

The Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a lovely walking route through the landscapes that once fueled Vincent van Gogh’s artistic inspiration during his stay at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum.

Completing the trail typically takes about an hour, and it features 21 reproductions of Van Gogh’s masterpieces strategically placed to align with the actual scenes that stirred his creativity. Each reproduction panel includes excerpts from letters written by Van Gogh to his mother, brother, or others, sharing insights into his progress and artistic journey. The information is conveniently presented in both French and English. These reproductions are in three distinct areas: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence old town, along Avenue Pasteur, and within the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole.

We started by parking in front of the Tourist Information office. Just opposite the tourist office, a plaque proudly displays one of Van Gogh’s reproduced artworks.

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 subtle metal sign on the ground marked with the word “Vincent”. Just before entering the old town, an arched gate displayed the next artwork, capturing a street scene from Van Gogh’s era. Yet, the only remnants of his inspired village street scene were the towering plane trees lining the path.

Following the Rue de la Commune, we found ourselves in the bustling centre of the old town, surrounded by the welcoming shade of majestic plane trees. A delightful surprise awaited us at a small square—a Van Gogh self-portrait.

As we strolled in front of the Musée Estrine, another panel prompted with insights into Van Gogh’s interpretation of colour in his paintings. The museum housed the “Van Gogh Interpretation Centre,” offering a deeper understanding of the artist’s impact on modern and contemporary art.

The old town’s charm enveloped us—the vibrant shutters bathed in sunlight, shops decorated with cute chairs and flower-decked tables, welcoming passers-by to pause and soak in the atmosphere. Each narrow street in this Provencal town revealed its unique character, capturing my attention and luring me to capture these picturesque scenes through my lens.

Van Gogh’s village street scene; Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
a reproduction of Van Gogh’s artwork

Along the Avenue Pasteur

As we continued our journey along the Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we strolled down Avenue Pasteur, heading south. This path held a special significance, as Van Gogh had created some of his most renowned paintings along these very spots. Unfortunately, the expansive country views that inspired Van Gogh are now partially fenced by walls belonging to the local residents.

Each reproduction on the trail provides a brief title describing the artist’s work, with most focusing on the surrounding landscapes. The excerpts from Van Gogh’s letters revealed his internal struggles and vivid imagination, documenting his progress during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

These letters also presented Van Gogh’s unique interpretation of colours in nature. The luminous colours in his paintings insinuated the state of his soul, prompting contemplation on whether Van Gogh was a “sane” artist painting an “insane” society.

Our excursion took place during the height of summer, with the constant hum of cicadas creating a lively soundtrack, offering a welcomed distraction from the heat. As we walked, we noticed numerous tiny white snails adorning the roadside bushes, each too small to be easily recognized from a distance.

The next stretch of our adventure led us along Avenue Dr. Edgar Leroy, also lined with more panels of reproduction, leading us towards the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole.

Van Gogn's Painting of olive pickup scene
the very place where Van Gogn pinted olive pickup scene

Within the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole

Our enlightening journey along the Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence reached its end at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole.

Before stepping into the monastery, we passed a black statue of Van Gogh, in his lean and withered form—a powerful representation of the struggles he faced. Notably, he also painted scenes from the hospital. For a modest fee, we gained access to his studio within the asylum, still functioning as a psychiatric health institution today.

Next to the chapel of Saint-Paul de Mausolé in Saint-Rémy de Provence, a vibrant and meticulously maintained small courtyard caught our eye. Walking through a long corridor and ascending a staircase, we entered a small room that replicated the space where Van Gogh was confined. Behind a fenced window, he once stood, painting the scenes outside with his paintbrush. From the top of the stairs, we gazed upon the wheat field that Vincent Van Gogh had famously painted during his stay.

Having arrived in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in May 1889 after residing in Arles, Van Gogh found motives in the hospital garden, portraying it in many of his artworks. Venturing into the Monastery’s field, we discovered sunflowers and lavender, and two more reproductions of Van Gogh’s masterpieces.

The field behind the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
Courtyard of Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
black statue of Van Gogh;Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole

Our tips of Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Plan enough time for the walk

If your goal is a leisurely stroll through the trail and a visit to the Monastery, setting aside about an hour should suffice. However, for those wanting to study Van Gogh’s artworks, capturing moments with photographs along the way, a more extended period is recommended. Our exploration, blending art appreciation and picturesque walks, consumed a fulfilling three hours.

Explore Saint-Rémy-de-Provence old town

In addition to the walking trail, the old town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is well-worth the visit.. Wandering through the narrow streets of the historic quarter, you’ll discover private mansions dating back to the Renaissance, meticulously restored residences, and charming chapels.

The town has been a muse for countless artists who chose to call it home. As a result, Saint-Rémy has numerous studios and art galleries waiting to be explored. For art enthusiasts, a visit to Route des Artistes and the Creators’ Market during the summer adds another layer of artistic allure to the experience.

Narrow alleys in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Old Town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence;Van Gogh Trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Stay a few days in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

The village not only offers its unique attractions but also serves as an excellent base for exploring the hilltop villages in Luberon, the historic city of Avignon, the majestic Pont du Gard, and the artistic haven of Arles.

Two hotels have good rates: Hotel Le Mas Saint Joseph and Auberge de Saint-Rémy de Provence

How to get there

If you come from Arles, the scenic Bus Line 54 will take you there in about 40 minutes. Alternatively, Bus Line 57 from Avignon takes approximately 30 minutes. If you prefer the freedom of driving, both Arles and Avignon are just a half-hour drive away.

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