Bouches-du-Rhône (13210) Population: 9,340 Altitude: 60 m
The village of St. Rémy is pretty and picturesque, and the old Gallo-Roman interior is circled by the remnants of the circular 14th-century wall and the protective circle of buildings.
Located on the plains at the northern edge of the Alpilles, 20 km south of Avignon, this is where Van Gogh painted Starry Night, Nostradamus was born and Dr Albert Schweitzer was prisoner. Market day Wed.
Saint Remy is a busy, active village, with a good selection of restaurants and hotels for the traveller. The old town is full of shops of all kinds, especially for Provençal items. Among the shops in the old village are a few with some regional pottery, including some beautiful sunflower plates no doubt influenced by Van Gogh [who lived here].
The road between St. Rémy and the autoroute (at Cavaillon, 17 km to the east) is a scenic drive out of the past: the road is lined by plane trees that are lovely and give beautiful shade during the summer, yet menacing for the imprudent driver.
The most obvious remains of the 14th-century protective wall are the old portes, still in use today as the entrance ways into the ancient center of old Saint Remy. The old center is circled by a ring-road of boulevards, small enough that you can walk around the circumference in 20-30 minutes.
At the opposite end of the old town, the Portail Saint-Paul gives entrance from the south, onto Rue de la Commune leading in to the main Place Pelissier where the town hall (mairie) is located.
Wednesday is a major market day in Saint Rémy-de-Provence. The market spreads across parking areas and squares around the northern and western parts of the Boulevards ringing the old town of St Rémy. If you like markets, crowds, and an active experience, Wednesday is a great day to visit. Cafés and restaurants tend to be crowded around lunch time, but the atmosphere is good.
There's a smaller market on Saturdays, with food only.
Vincent Van Gogh had been living in Arles during 1888-89. In May 1889 he was voluntarily confined in the Asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole beside Saint-Rémy. During this period of his life he painted two of his most notable works: Starry Night and Self-Portrait. He was released from the hospital in May 1890
Nostradamus, known in ancient France as an outstanding physician and elsewhere in the world as prophet, was born here on the rue Hoche.
Doctor Albert Schweitzer was "hospitalized" here in 1917-18, for the remainder of the war. He wasn't so much ill as German. He took advantage of his "hospitalization" to write The Decay and the Restoration of Civilization and Civilization and Ethics, part of his philosophical study of civilization. and left for Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris. He shot himself on 27 July 1890 and died two days later.
Paparazzi Notes (accuracy accidental). Caroline of Monaco lives here, and the late Princess Diana bought a place.