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Visiting Van Gogh

St. Remy-de-Provence & Les Baux


Located right next to our hotel is one of the largest and most significant medieval Gothic buildings in Europe ... the Papal Palace. There is a guide which we takes us on a tour of the place. Seven popes and two antipopes lived here.


Definition: antipope: is a person who in opposition to the pope who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes an accepted competing claim to be the Pope. Two Popes at the same time...one in the Vatican, one in Avignon.

This palace is 15,000 square meters, 160,000 square feet of floor space which is the equivalent of four large cathedrals AND it was completed in under 20 years. There was much corruption as well as excess and spiritual compromise within these walls that eventually caused its demise. It was then used as a residence for visiting legates but deteriorated during the French Revolution(1789-99). In 1791 it reverted to France and became a military barracks and prison where much of the interior decoration was destroyed. It became a national museum in 1906 and the restoration still continues today.

We are on our way to a town called St. Remy-de-Provence to see the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole...the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh spent some of his troubled last days. Van Gogh came to the monestary after he cut off his ear in 1889. He gave the ear to a "lady friend" who sought help for him here. He was confined to the grounds during most of his stay. This is where he spent his time painting the gardens, the enclosed wheat fields that he could see outside his room and a few portraits of individuals at the asylum. There were periods during his stay that he could not paint. When he could resume his hobby, painting provided him some peace and was meaningful for him. Nature seemed especially meaningful...symbolizing the cycle of life. He was inspired by the intense blue sky and the landscape. Here he painted more than 300 paintings including " The Irises" "Sunflowers" and "Starry Night over the Rhone". Sadly, just as his work was gaining interest in the artistic community, he was not well enough to fully enjoy it.

As you walk into the driveway, a painting is placed in the exact spots where Van Gogh painted the actual pictures and... where you are standing to read the description of inspiriation ... you can see the actual landscape that inspired him. Then we reach the entry walls and walk the path to the monestary. The grounds are beautiful and meaningful as we walk between the entry pillars along the garden walls where roughly every 10-12 feet one of his paintings is displayed amongst plantings that compliment each painting. So nicely done. We reach the monestary and there is a life-size bronze stature of Vincent and more gardens with more paintings. It's just really beautifully thought out and such a nice tribute to an artist with such a troubled life.


From Van Gogh to Arles...where we see the Roman Arena and the 12th Century Cathedral of St. Trophime. Les Baux "The Bow"....the most beautiful village in France...where we stop into one of the chappel shops and Erica treats us both to a nice french chappel. Thanks, Eric! I love it! Facts: Les Baux... it is believed decended from the 3 wise kings, King of Balthazar to be exact.


It was a shelter for Protestants during the religious wars.

It is actually the ruins of a castle. A small church that St. Vincent built into the rock with the valley below filled with olive groves.

Known for the most striking landscape.

Long day but so stimulating that we've worked up an appetite and check out the blackboards in town for special. We make our choice and enjoy wine, of course, dinner and a last walk around the Palace grounds and town before taking off for Cannes tomorrow!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 11:13 Archived in France Tagged st. saint les van monestary paul gogh vincent baux remy-de-provence

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