I have yet to catch sight of past resident Princess Caroline of Monaco here but you never know…. Meanwhile it is a lovely place to have a wander and a long lunch once you manage to secure a car park! Before you get to St. Remy, just south of the town on the D5 is Glanum where the Romans built a city dating from 63BC on the Via Domitia which linked Italy and Spain.
Next to Glanum is the Romanesque church and chapel of the Ancien Monastère de St. Paul-de-Maussole where Vincent Van Gogh was committed for a year in May 1889 after cutting off his ear. He worked prolifically in the peaceful surrounds of the monastery producing some of his most famous works such as Starry Night, The Irises, Olive Grove and Self Portrait.
His tiny room is still available for viewing at the monastery just out from the city centre off the D5 on Avenue Vincent Van Gogh. It is still a psychiatric hospital today providing art therapy for the patients and a very attractive place to visit and imagine how it was when Van Gogh was there.
One thing that was not apparent in his time spent there, was the old Roman city of Glanum as it was not excavated until the mid 20th century but Vincent would have painted the olive grove which covered it , hiding well its secret below ground.
The excavated city is quite remarkable and once again shows how sophisticated and clever the Romans were especially in regards to the thermal heating and cooling of their buildings and their utilisation of water.
In St. Remy itself, the old town has several “portes” or stone arched entrances still remaining and many narrow streets to explore at leisure for those with shopping in mind. Lunch under the plane trees in the historic centre in one of the many squares or “places” after exploring the many colourful high end shops and art galleries can be a difficult choice to make.
A fountain named for Nostradamus who was born here is one of several adding charm to the historic town centre along with beautiful plane trees. Best to be early on market day morning as parking is at a premium, but if you are happy to walk a bit further then there is plenty of parking on the outskirts of town.