Today I get to share with you Part One of our incredible escape to this magical slice of French countryside. I firmly believe that this location would make for a dream honeymoon. My husband and I were swept away with the beauty of the landscapes, the lighting, the incredible architecture and the phenomenal history that make this region such a fun place to see and enjoy.
We stayed in the charming city of Arles and I instantly fell in love with the rustic stones and the faded pastels that made up the sweet homes and shops lining the twisting cobblestone streets. Our first afternoon in the area, we headed over to St. Rémy, a quiet and beautiful little town that seemed perfectly nestled in between fields of olive trees and lavender. Richly-coloured wisteria draped many terraces and framed the cutest of doorways:
I loved the casual elegance spotted everywhere. Random flowerpots scattered behind faded French shutters (Did you know they typically have non-louvered shutters to protect against the strong Mistral wind that can spontaneously blow through the region?) and cheerfully-coloured parakeets basking in the sunshine.
Next, we drove to the outskirts of St. Rémy to visit Clinique St. Paul, the sanitarium where Vincent Van Gogh stayed for 15 months after his “ear incident.” Van Gogh’s time at St. Rémy was his most prolific, painting around 300 canvases. The grounds were breathtaking and we even got to see his old room (which he painted a few different times).
And below is a photo of the delightful olive orchards that surround the sanitarium. If you’re a big fan of Van Gogh, you would recognize many of the subjects of his paintings just by walking around the grounds … the twisted trunks of the olive trees, the gorgeous irises in full bloom, the tall cypress trees creating shadows against starry skies (yes, Starry Night was painted during his 15 months here).
We later headed back into the town of St. Rémy and enjoyed a relaxing lunch at one of the adorable streetside bistros along with some shopping. I picked up a bundle of fresh lavender and fresh wheat to decorate with at home, along with a new bag for when I head to the fresh produce markets.
This was just our first day … I have lots more to share but thought I’d break everything down into several posts. Coming up: Arles, Aigues-Morte, Ste. Marie de la Mer and Avignon! I’ll end with a recap of my favorite spots as well as my top tips for visiting.
Photography by Sarah Darcy of Classic Bride blog.