Arles - an Artist's Paradise

by Trish Clark / Aug 31, 2009 /
Trish Clark's picture


ARLES

Let’s jump on the flying carpet and head to Arles in the South of France, a charming, irresistible Provençale town of Roman ruins, museums and art galleries, medieval churches and a great Saturday morning market. The town’s ‘vieille ville’ or ‘old town’ is criss-crossed by an intricate web of narrow, wriggly laneways inevitably leading past convivial street cafes, patisseries and boulangeries, Tabac bars and tourist shops packed to the rafters with bright Provençale tablecloths, fabrics, fragrances and an eclectic selection of lavender products. Many lead on through leafy, shaded squares to the great Ampitheatre where genteel, bloodless bullfights are regularly held and the bull (and the matador) both live to fight another day. The town is surrounded by neat vineyards and shady olive groves, purple lavender fields and row upon row of cheery, golden sunflowers. The countryside is an artist’s paradise as the great post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) discovered. In February 1888 Van Gogh re-located from Paris to Arles where he rented ‘The Yellow House’ on the Place Lamartine and invited his friend and fellow painter Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) to join him. During this time the pair painted prodigiously and Van Gogh alone churned out over 150 works in just over a year. Not far from where The Yellow House once stood is the Place du Forum, a colourful, umbrella filled square which is the address of our first hotel.

The Hotel du Forum is one of my favourite places. It’s not at all fancy, more like a comfortable, airy, light-filled family home, oozing Provencale warmth, charm. The position, the rough-hewn stone walls, and hodge podge architecture, the weathered shutters,  easy ambience and the friendly, helpful staff somehow captures the essence of all that is wonderful about visiting Provence. 

 

Hotel du Forum

Hotel du Forum

 

Public Bathroom, Hotel du Forum

Public Bathroom, Hotel du Forum

 

Hotel du Forum

Hotel du Forum 

 

The guestrooms are quite spacious and have en suite bathrooms and air-conditioning; there is a small bar and a leafy pool area. The hotel is situated in the centre of town, opposite the iconic, yellow, Van Gogh Cafe which was the subject of one of Vincent’s most famous paintings, The Café Terrace on The Place du Forum. The hotel is ideally situated to forage around the town on foot.  Step outside the front door and into a busy, animated square where the seductive tastes and smells of Provençale cooking awaits and where the toughest decision of the day could be to choose between the affordable prix fixe menus offered by the various street cafes. Car parking is available (small charge). The front-facing rooms can be a little noisy when the cafe proprietors set up their tables in front of the hotel. Quieter rooms overlook the pool. Double rooms from around €80.00

www.hotelduforum.com

 

Cafe Terrace at Night, Van Gogh

The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night, is displayed at the Kröller-Müller Art Museum in Otterlo in the Netherlands.

 

 

SAINT-RÉMY DE PROVENCE
In May 1889, Van Gogh infamously cut off his ear after a violent argument with his house-mate, Paul Gauguin and later admitted himself to an asylum located in a former Franciscan monastery in St Remy (now called the Clinique Saint-Paul de Mausole).  During the year he spent in the asylum Van Gogh produced numerous paintings, including one of the night sky above the town which he called Starry, Starry Night and which is believed to be one of his most popular works. Unfortunately no original Van Gogh paintings are to be found in St-Rémy or in Arles, but if you happen to be in Paris, the Musée d'Orsay has a comprehensive collection of Van Goghs, including his other night sky painting, titled Starry Night Over The Rhône.

The Hotel du Soleil, on the outskirts of the centre of St-Rémy de Provence is well placed for spectacular views of this same starry, night sky and is within easy walking distance (200 metres) of the town and the hospital where Van Gogh was once a patient. The room Van Gogh occupied during his stay in the former asylum is open to visitors and the original monastic architecture is well-preserved.

 

Hotel de Soleil

Hotel de Soleil

 

Hotel de Soleil

Hotel de Soleil

 

This rustic hotel is a handy and comfortable base from which to explore the surrounding area. Guestrooms and apartments are located in a number of different buildings all of which circle a large swimming pool – a perfect antidote to the blazing Mediterranean sun. Guestrooms are en suite and facilities include a coffee maker, hairdryer, air-conditioning and television. Breakfast is available. There is plenty of parking and if you want to leave the car behind, take the bus to Arles or to Avignon, the City of Popes – but that’s another story!! Double rooms from around €65.00

www.hotelsoleil.com

 

 

Starry Starry Night Van Gogh

Starry, Starry Night is displayed at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Trish Clark is author of Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe, Vols I and II, both published by Hidden Spring, an imprint of Paulist Press NJ. She writes a monthly column for wanderingeducators.com as the European Accommodation Editor. You can find her at http://goodnightandgodbless.com/

Good Night and God Bless

Share

Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    8 years 9 months ago

    trish - these 2 places sound FANTASTIC! and inexpensive - excellent. our daughter LOVES van gogh, so i imagine we'll head there sometime. thanks!

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

Leave a comment