Panorama of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the South of France
The picturesque town Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the South of France
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the quintessential Provencal town: it is filled with narrow winding streets and sun-filled squares, and surrounded by fields of sunflowers and the Apilles mountain range. The town was immortalized by Van Gogh in his famous painting The Starry Night, painted during his stay in Saint Rémy. Nowadays, you can see what inspired the celebrated post-impressionist painter by walking down the streets of the historic city center!

Explore this beautiful town located south of Avignon in just 48 hours!

Day 1:

10 am – Walk in Van Gogh’s Footsteps in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Picture of the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastery made famous by Van Gogh
The Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastery where Van Gogh painted his The Starry Night. Photo by Axel Brocke.
Start your visit to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastery. This beautiful and ancient building holds the asylum where Vincent van Gogh spent the last year of his life. He painted about 150 paintings in the monastery, including The Starry Night, The Irises and The Wheatfield. Today the monastery remains a psychiatric institution, but you can visit the room Van Gogh stayed in and his workshop where he worked on his paintings. The monastery has a beautiful garden with surrounding walkway. Also be sure to have a peek at the wonderful view of the valley from the monastery. You can even see the fields and hills that inspired some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings!

To see a typical scene of a Van Gogh painting up close, visit the olive orchard of the Moulin du Calanquet next. This modern mill produces some of the finest olive oil and black olives in the South of France. The olive plantation consists of ten thousand olive trees, and when you walk through the fields you’ll feel like you’ve entered Van Gogh’s celebrated painting The Olive Orchard!

1 pm – Have Lunch in the Historic City Center of Saint-Rémy

Head back to the city center of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for lunch. On Wednesday mornings, visit the great farmers market on the Place de la République and surrounding streets. Buy a baguette and some French cheeses here and enjoy lunch in one of the town’s squares or parks. On any other day, there are several great restaurants in the city center where you can enjoy a traditional French lunch. For this type of meal, head to Chez Gus, L’Estagnol, Bistrot Découverte, Les Saveurs de Provence or Le Bistrot des Alpilles.

3 pm – Wander the Streets of the Historical City Center

After lunch, explore the picturesque streets of the historical city center, where you can find many boutiques and small French shops.

Image of the Nostradamus Fountain in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
An ancient fountain decorated with a bust of Nostradamus in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
In between shopping, be sure to check out the ancient fountain with a bust of Nostradamus at the intersection of Rue Carnot & Rue Nostradamus. The famous apothecary and alleged seer Nostradamus was born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1503. At the old entrances to the city center you can still see the remaining ‘portes’, or gates, of the 14th-century wall which used to surround the city. Other sites worth seeing are the Dauphin fountain, City Hall and the Chapelle Notre Dame de Pitié.

For a cultural afternoon, visit one of the museums in town. The Alpilles Museum is located in a beautiful mansion in the city center, and introduces you to the vast nature of the region. The Estrine Museum is a museum of modern art that has a room dedicated to the life of Van Gogh. The gorgeous heritage museum is currently undergoing renovations, it is set to re-open in the spring of 2014.

6 pm – Have Dinner at Home in your Vacation Rental Apartment

Head back to your vacation rental apartment in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to prepare your own French dinner! By staying in an apartment you’ll have access to a fully equipped kitchen where you can try your hand at a real French meal. For some culinary inspiration, have a look at Provence’s Food Culture & French Cuisine. All apartments feature cozy living rooms and some have outside dining areas in the garden where you can enjoy your dinner in style. Don’t forget to try some baguettes with olive oil from the region!

Day 2:

10 am – Explore the Roman site Glanum and Les Antiques

Picture of Glanum, an ancient Roman site near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
The ancient Roman site Glanum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Glanum is an ancient Roman site located close to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It’s one of the most important sites of Roman monuments in France. Glanum was a town built around the 2nd century BC. It was abandoned around 260 AD, and though most of the town was destroyed by barbarians, you can still see much of the foundation of the structure today.

Image of Les Antiques in Glanum
The ancient mausoleum and Triumphal Arch of Les Antiques in Glanum. Photo by Marcel Musil.
Furthermore, the site houses two miraculously preserved Roman monuments, called Les Antiques. The Antiques consist of two monuments. The first is a mausoleum that was built around 30 BC, and still stands proudly today. The second is a Triumphal Arch that was built around 20 AD, making it the oldest Arc de Triomphe in France. Although the top of the arch is missing, it’s still an incredibly impressive structure to behold.

12 pm – Take a Trip out of Town

Because of its central location in Provence, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a great town to explore the surrounding area from. You have several options for a day trip out of town.

Avignon is the obvious choice, but there are also a couple of lesser-known towns that make for a great day trip. For instance, Arles is also just a 25-kilometer (15 miles) ride away from Saint-Rémy. Arles is known for its beautiful Roman monuments, and Van Gogh also produced many paintings here during his stay in the city.

Picture of Les Baux-de-Provence in the Alpilles
Les Baux-de-Provence lies on a rock in the Alpilles mountain range
Another great option is the town Les Baux-de-Provence, just 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Saint-Rémy. The town is located in the middle of the Alpilles mountain range, and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding region. Explore the picturesque village and pay a visit to the ruined castle. The surrounding National Park of Alpilles is also wonderful to drive, bike or hike through.

6 pm – Dinner in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Return to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to have dinner in one of the cozy restaurants in the historic city center. End your two days in this rustic town with a glass of local wine and a view of the picturesque French buildings basking in the last sunrays of the evening.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence! Do you prefer to stay in a big city or small town during a holiday?