By Lupita Peimbert.
(Travel) – Some people keep visiting the same place year after year, and they are happy; others, keep on finding new places for that fuzzy feeling one gets when discovering something new. How about going to a beautiful, charming town in Provence, France that you have never been to but whose illustrious residents you know some?
A prophet, a famous artist, and a promising sculptor are just a few famous figures that may spark your curiosity for visiting St. Rémy de Provence.
A Prophet: Nostradamus was born in St. Rémy
He was an alchemist, and oracle to the King. He wrote “The Prophecies” in 1555, predicting worldwide events, advancements, and catastrophes. Scientists and even astrologers have criticized his work heavily. Yet, Nostradamus’ work is known and followed by millions around the world. He was born in St. Rémy, at house #6, and lived in the area many years until the King summoned him to Paris.
An Artist: paintings by Vincent van Gogh
In the last two years of his life, van Gogh created his best-known paintings. He spent time at the hospital Saint Paul de Mausole, in St. Rémy, to get treatment for mental illness. While staying there, he was allowed to wander in the immediate areas outside the hospital, and that is when and where he was inspired by the surrounding beauty and painted his famous: “Starry Night,” and “The Olive Trees,” among many other paintings.
A Promising Sculptor: Camille Claudel 1915 was filmed at St. Paul
Camille Claudel was a promising sculptor and Auguste Rodin’s mistress. Crazy from love and apparently suffering paranoia and schizophrenia, she was sent to a psychiatric hospital by her family and had to live there for 30 years until her death. Some argue that her family was ashamed of her due to her affairs with the famous artist. The newest movie about her life, Camille Claudel 1915 (released in 2013), was actually filmed at Saint Paul de Mausole, portraying her life in an asylum, surrounded by people with a chronic mental illness.
Why I recommend St. Rémy de Provence:
It is a beautiful small town where you can walk, sit at coffee shops and restaurants, buy aromatic soaps, ceramics, and art made right there in Provence, and hike around Les Alpilles, the small mountain range (little Alpes) full of hiking trails and panoramic views. Une petite village, charming, serene, and beautiful!
How to get there:
St. Rémy de Provence is 20 kilometers south of Avignon. For my visit, I took a train to Avignon, and then I took a 20-minute-ride by bus to St. Rémy. In addition to staying at charming little hotels (easy to find once in the town), one can opt for Airbnb or Couchsurfing.