Recently someone who only had four days to spend in Provence asked me if I had to choose between a visit to Aix-en-Provence or Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, which would it be. Preferably I’d find the time for both but as stunning a city as Aix is, in June, on a first visit to Provence I think I’d choose Saint-Rémy. A happy little town, so charming and colorful and so typically Provence!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~ why it charms!
It’s pretty! Meandering cobbled streets shaded under a canopy of plane trees, packed with cafes, restaurants, galleries and cute boutiques happily mingled together.
Yet steps away from the bustle there are secluded corners where fountains who happily chuckled to others over the years, Nostradamus, (who was actually born here) Van Gogh and Princess Caroline of Monaco, still gurgle contently. So many wonderful reminders of days gone by.
Come on a Wednesday, when a colorful market sprawls along its streets overflowing into its picturesque squares.
Blessed with over 300 days of sunshine this vibrant, historic Provencal town is small enough to sample in half a day. However with so much to discover both within its enfolds and close by, Saint-Rémy is a delightful base for a few days in this region of Provence.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~What to do
A great way to discover the secrets of Saint-Rémy is via one of its self guided audio. There are two available: ‘Discover the town’ and ‘The Van Gogh Walk’. In French and English, lasting from an hour to a full day Price: €3.00, learn more here: Saint-Rémy Audio guide.
Estrine Museum and Van Gogh Interpretation Centre 8 rue estrine 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Tel: 04 90 92 34 72. Built in 1749, once a splendid hotel, Estrine is now a museum where The Vincent van Gogh Interpretation Center pays tribute to this incredible artist who lived in Saint-Rémy, May 8, 1889 to May 20, 1890. The museum also hosts a constant stream of exhibitions featuring the work of many other celebrated artists. Visit their website here
Saint-Rémy tourist board website has further information for other museums, chapels and sites.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~Where to eat
There are so many choices, many of which I have yet to sample, do tell me your discoveries, here are a few of ours:
L’Estagnol 7 Blvd Marceau 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Tel: 04 90 92 05 95 Price: €8 ~ €22 Delicious tapas salads and mains, Mediterranean with a fusion twist.
Chez Fanny’s Place Mireille Moatti 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Tel: 04 90 92 90 89 Newly opened in March 2018 this quaint courtyard spot offers yummy salads and pastas Price: from €16.
Gus 31 Boulevard Victor Hugo 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Tel: 04 90 90 27 61 Delicious menu especially for seafood loversPrice €13 ~ €30. Open all year every day lunch & dinner. Closed Mondays November~March
L’Aile ou la Cuisse 5 Rue de la commune 13210 Saint Rémy de Provence Tel: 04 32 62 00 25
Price: €13 ~ €37. Wonderful family recipes in a gourmet bistro setting. Known especially for its mouthwatering pastries and deserts. Open every day April 1st to November 15th lunch & dinner, closed Sunday evening and Monday from November 16th to March 31st
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~ Where to stay
I’ve never actually stayed in Saint Rémy but there’s some wonderful places, both in the town and close by including some really special luxurious gems.
I’d also check what Alistair Sawday has to recommend. This Sawdays’ suggestion caught my eye Appartement d’Anges, two beautiful accommodations for 2-6 people offering personalized tours and gourmet experience.
Le petit Bijou a really special place to rent from Vicki Archer, a wonderful authority on the area!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~ What’s nearby
Glanum Archeological Site
Route des Baux de Provence D5 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence 04 90 92 23 79 website
Part of Provence’s rich Roman heritage, just one km from Saint-Rémy, the site of Glanum was inhabited from about 500 BC. In the 2nd century BC it became a Greek town and from the 1st to the 3rd centuries, colonized by the Romans it was a resplendent Roman city with great public, civil and religious buildings. Destroyed by barbarian invasions around 260AD the survivors founded a new village that was to become Saint-Rémy. It was virtually forgotten until 1921 when excavations began to reveal its incredible past. Definitely worth a visit!
Open: 1 April to 30 September 9:30am to 6pm 1 October to 31 March (Closed on Monday)10 am to 5 pm with various holiday closures check website for details. Fees: Adults €8, reductions for children, students and groups
Les Baux-de-Provence is just 10 minutes from Saint-Rémy on route from Glanum. One of Provence’s most atmospheric perched villages, precariously hugging the craggy limestone of the Alpilles hills, with links to the biblical Wise Men and Monaco’s Grimaldi family, it’s a place where time has stood still….Read more about Les Baux here
If time is short visit both Les Baux and Saint-Rémy together, preferably on a Wednesday for Saint-Rémy’s delightful market, enjoy lunch in the town. (Sadly Les Baux has disappointing choices). Leave time to include the audio visual art spectacle of Carrières de Lumières next to Les Baux, admission to which can be combined with the entrance to its’ château ruins.
Carrières de Lumières
Just an 800m strole from Les Baux de Provence, each year the artistic talent of the maestros is splashed upon the towering walls and floor of this former bauxite quarry in Val d’Enfer at Les Baux. Set to a mystical, musical background, it is always a spellbinding spectacle. Previous years have included Chagall, Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo, this year the work of Picasso and the Spanish masters
For more information: Carrières de Lumières Route de Maillane 13520 Les Baux de Provence Tel: 04 90 54 37 Open: 9.00am -6.00pm, (later in summer) 7 days a week from March – January Admission: €12.50 Euros, family and other discounts available. If time permits buy the combined ticket which includes the excellent audio tour of the château ruins at Les Baux. Check their website for details.
In addition to the local wine domains and olive mills there are also the delightful small towns and villages of Les Alpilles to explore such as Eygalières and Maussane-les-Alpilles. The splendid Roman city of Arles (23km ) is full of archeological treasures, including its original amphitheater and as another home of Van Gogh it has its own Van Gogh museum and sites to further tell his story.
Enjoy your visit to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and let me know what you discover!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ~Where it is
Nestled at the foot of Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of Provence.
Marseilles Airport: 70km (60min) Avignon: 25km (30min) Arles: 23km (36min)
Aix en Provence: 73km (65mins) Lourmarin: 52km (55min)