Updated: Aug 31, 2022
I chose Arles for the cuisine, the walk through history that includes Roman and Medieval ruins, and also to see where Van Gogh flourished. Having lived in Paris for two years, Vincent arrived in Arles on 20 February 1888 at the age of 35. He had headed south to escape the busy city life of which he had tired, and to pursue clearer skies offering brighter lighting.
His plan as recounted by his brother Theo, was to go "first to Arles to get his bearings and then probably on to Marseille." Yes, that plan changed; Van Gogh found in Arles just what he was looking for, and did not move further south.
During his fourteen months of residence in Arles, Van Gogh created a multitude of drawings and paintings, many of which are now considered highlights of late 19th century art. He was a great admirer of Japanese paintings and in Arles he found the bright light and colors characteristic of those works.
I found the light magical and the city and countryside beautiful, even though we were there in winter. I chose Arles simply as a convenient place for my family to spend the night to see Pont du Gard, yet fell a bit in love with the place. Now I look forward to going back during the summer months and retracing the steps where Van Gogh set his easels, a path well laid out for those who want to visit.
It was with great pleasure that I read some of Van Gogh's letters, written in Arles, back to his brother Theo who remained in Paris. Vincent described the bright light and colors of Provence, and their positive effect upon both his mood and level of energy.
I wish to return for a week, or two, or longer, soak up more of the exquisite food and wine, explore its history and enjoy its beauty. Anyone care to join me?