Born in Holland, Van Gogh is to Provence what Provence is to his work: an inspiration and partner for life. After leaving Paris, the master first set down his bags in Arles before heading to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, fascinated by these luminous landscapes bathed in tranquillity and in love with their sunshine that never fades…
The art of capturing light…
A mosaic of Arlesian colours
From the sun to sunflowers, Van Gogh adored Provence and fell head over heels in love with the unique shades of yellow that light up his paintings and warm the soul. During his stay in Arles in 1888, he painted hundreds of works, including some of his most famous. Today, you can follow in his footsteps in the town thanks to a walking itinerary crossing the sites that inspired him. Don’t miss the former Hôtel Dieu, now the Espace Van Gogh, where the painter was taken care of after cutting off his ear, or the Van Gogh Foundation where his works strike up an inspiring dialogue with contemporary creations inspired by the artist. Enjoy a coffee on Place du Forum, immortalized in Café Terrace at Night before heading to Place Lamartine and the famous Maison Jaune where he set up his studio. Just outside the town centre, you will recognize Pont Langlois, now baptized Pont Van Gogh, portrayed in several of his works. Last but not least, the Musée Réattu harbours a letter from Van Gogh to Gauguin relating his everyday life in Arles.
An open-air story
“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day,” said Van Gogh. And he would no doubt have loved the “Nuit Etoilée” (Starry Night) show running at the Carrières de Lumières multimedia exhibition centre in Les Baux-de-Provence 7 until January 5 th , 2020, bringing his most famous masterpieces to life on 15-metre stone walls…. In 2012, the exhibition “Gauguin, Van Gogh, Painters of Colours” already lit up this ancient quarry – a genuine open-air museum dating back to Roman times – where Jean Cocteau also shot scenes for his film The Testament of Orphea in 1959.
A fresco of torment
As day fades, the genius still shines
Genuine emblems of his masterful brushstrokes, Irises and Lilacs were painted by Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence while he was interned at the Saint-Paul de Mausole hospice. He also painted the garden he saw from his window, immortalizing the final moments of an intense life. The Interpretation Centre at the Musée Estrine – an official Musée de France – decrypts the life, character and work of the artist. You can enjoy taking the “Vincent” footpath starting out from the museum and crossing the landscapes that inspired Van Gogh. This delightful walk is dotted with reproductions of his finest works.
Gems hidden in the four corners of Provence
Van Gogh’s renown spans the world and the treasures he left behind can be found throughout Provence. And whether you’re hunting them down or come across them by chance, each is a masterpiece. In Avignon, the Musée Angladon exhibits Railway Carriages in Arles: a rare, emblematic work and one of the few remaining in France, despite the fact that Van Gogh painted most of his famous canvasses in Provence. In Aix-en-Provence, you can admire Bouquet of flowers painted in 1886 at Musée Granet, courtesy of the Planque collection. Wind up your homage with a poetic escapade in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: Van Gogh’s painting Fishing Boats on the Beach offers a fascinatingly-realistic portrayal of the boats moored along the town’s marshes and beaches. It’s almost as if nothing has really changed…