Stepping Back in Time in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a charming little Provençal town. The 14th century walls still protectively circle the ancient city center and stepping through the old portes is like stepping back in time. Centuries old plane trees tower above the narrow boulevards – the very same plane trees Van Gogh painted during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Medieval townhouses line the maze of tiny streets encircled in just a half square kilometer.

We stayed at the 18th century La Maison du Village right in the heart of the ancient city and spent lazy mornings eating macaroons for breakfast in bed. Evenings were perfect for strolling around the crooked little streets and having leisurely meals at little French cafes.

During our days we followed the Circuit Van Gogh through Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a walking route visiting the sites of 21 of Van Gogh’s paintings from his time at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. We would stand admiring and comparing the scenes before us to those Van Gogh had painted over a century ago. Maybe the plane trees were a little taller and the blue shutters a little more worn, but not a whole lot had changed.

We wandered down the Rue Nostradamus from the Porte du Trou to the Nostradamus Fountain. On Rue Hoche, we visited the very town house where Nostradamus was born in 1503.

Our favorite square was shaded with plane trees in front of the beautiful Mairie, or town hall. The spires of the Saint Martin Church peaked above the medieval townhouses and the sweet smell of the nearby crepe stand wafted into the square.

The town came alive during the day, shopkeepers pulling out their wares into the narrow streets. And then a peacefulness would settle over the ancient city in the evening and we often had the quiet streets to ourselves, the stars twinkling above.

Just like Van Gogh’s Starry Night.


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Stepping Back in Time in Saint-Remy-de-Provence


  1. says

    This sounds so wonderful! I’ve been to Paris, Nice, and a couple cities on the France/Germany border, but none of the areas you’ve been writing about. Next time I take any sort of extended trip through France, I’d love to go here. I love your Starry Night reference at the end!

  2. says

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only been to France once. I’m definitely missing out, but fortuantely I’ll be going twice this fall, so that’s a start at least.

    • says

      Lucky you, Laurel! We’ve really enjoyed France each time we’ve been. Cannes was great and who doesn’t love Paris? The areas we visited on this trip really were entirely different from what I expected and I was pleasantly surprised at the quaint Provençal villages.

      Next I’m interested in visiting the wine regions and the Loire Valley to see the castles!

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