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Van Gogh and the Bistro

Van Gogh and the Bistro

August 2015
South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

Today was to be a Van Gogh themed day, but an invitation from dear friends to join them at Kirk’s favorite restaurant for lunch has us restructuring our day around that…so we begin with a blitz of Van Gogh sites in Arles – entering the town under a colorful canopy of umbrellas. 08191501 arles umbrellasWe got a later start than we’d hoped to, and hit some traffic on the way to Arles, so we only get to make two stops before jumping back in the car – just finding a parking place took more than 30 minutes!
First stop, Café de la Nuit, with that memorable yellow awning,08191501 cafethen we run to the Roman ampitheater…08191502 ampitheaterno time to stop in the cloister Van Gogh painted. Guess Cassidy will have to return for another visit!
We find the same parking challenge in tiny Paradou…the Bistro parking lot is totally full! So we squeeze in beside a stone wall, and walk across to the restaurant…and there’s our table! What fun to join our friends from home in Virginia right here in the south of France!08191502 bistro crowd Once again Cassidy gets to try some new tastes – my favorite melt-in-your-mouth eggplant first course starts us off, then the main dish of the day, roast rabbit. She’s been eagerly awaiting the cheese board, and it’s as fabulous as we described – she loves it, of course!08191502 eggplant rabbit and best of allAfter coffee on the terrace, 08191502 terrace coffeewe head off to more Van Gogh sights – the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery where he spent a prolific year. Amidst the olive groves we see where he set his easel for one masterpiece after another. 08191502 van goghThe most beautiful plane tree allées, in our opinion, are these near St. Remy de Provence –08191503 best allees a leafy tunnel shelters us from the sun as we roll back to Aix.

Van Gogh Was Here

Van Gogh Was Here

Music & Markets April Easter Festival, 2015
Aix-en-Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer – join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast in July?

We’ll walk in the steps of another great artist who was inspired by the south of France, Van Gogh. Driving north through the Alpilles, we’re charmed by the yellow carpet of wildflowers under the olive trees. Van Gogh colors – yellow and blue!04081501 Alpilles driveThe carpet continues beside St. Paul de Mausole outside of St. Remy de Provence, where Van Gogh checked himself in after the ear episode, and spent a prolific year of painting. 04081501 another art focused dayEaster is early this year, so there are just a few pansies in the cloister – not warm enough for more blooms,04081501 asylumand just a lone iris in the fields (last year we were here later and the garden was a purple haze!). 04081501 iris loneContinuing in the steps of the masters, we’re enveloped in the Giants of the Renaissance, this year’s theme at the Carrieres des Lumieres in Les Baux. 04081501 ren giantsThe cavernous rooms of a disused bauxite (yes, it’s named after Les Baux) quarry provide gigantic screens for richly hued photographs of locations or artworks, all accompanied by glorious surround-sound music.What a thrill to be immersed in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, noting details impossible to take in in the actual room in Rome. 04081501 thrilling surrounded sistineWell this has been a full morning – now for some delights for the palate after all these other sensory pleasures! And where better than the wonderful Bistro du Paradou? Today’s Prix Fixe lunch begins with a Frisée Lardon Salad, and unlike previous meals it’s not plated, just brought in a big bowl for us to dish out ourselves – fun!04081502 bistro foreverAnd then a favorite cool weather French specialty, cassoulet – we’ve never had this here before either, and it is one of the best we’ve tasted! 04081502 cassouletAnd you know what’s next, right? That amazing cheese platter, in which we make a hefty dent 😉04081502 that amazing cheese basketAfter dessert and coffee on the terrace, 04081502 then dessert on terracewe’re on our way back to Aix, passing a surprising addition to the Maussane des Alpilles town hall – knitted patchwork cozies on the huge tree and the balcony and lamposts!04081503 art contemporary maussane mairieI glance down a side street as we roll through the town –  “Oh please stop!” This wisteria draped cottage just cries out for a photo!04081503 stop for wisteria
An evening concert of clarinet, viola and piano in the elegant Jeu de Paume,04221405 ceiling

then it’s time for a bit more to eat before we turn in for the day….crepes at Crepe Sautiere, in an old olive oil mill in the center of town. This one has a bump in the middle – ice cream!04081504 bumpy crepe after jeu de paumeBonne Nuit, Aix.

A Village and Van Gogh

A Village and Van Gogh

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

Wednesday’s market day in St. Remy, so we’re on the way, driving through iconic allees of plane (sycamore) trees dappling the road.

The parking lots and side streets are packed with cars, eager shoppers streaming to the center, so Kirk drops us off and we walk by one enticing stall after another.
And here’s the bakery where we first tasted Sacristans, years ago. Are they still the best ones ever? We’ll have to find out! So we join the line, and come out with the long tubes of flaky pastry, wrapped around marzipan, dusted with sugar and toasted almonds. Yes – they’re still the best!

Booths snake down the lanes and fill the squares,

with combos playing in any corner they can find – this group is always right here, and well worth pausing for a listen.

Kirk phones as I’m enjoying the music “follow the jazz and you’ll find me there!”

On any day of the week it’s a pleasure to walk down the shady lanes of this charmer of a town – they’re lined with intriguing galleries (last spring’s private tour guest came THIS close to taking home a painting from this one),

home decor and brocante (vintage) shops, renowned chocolatiers, and several good restaurants and cafes.


On the outskirts of town is St. Paul de Mausole, the medieval monastery where a troubled Van Gogh checked himself in. There is still a short-stay psychiatric clinic on the property, but the ancient part, where Van Gogh stayed, is open for visits.

This peaceful haven

inspired nearly 300 works of art, such as Irises,

which just happen to be in bloom right now! Can you imagine him sitting by this field, memorializing their beauty for eternity?

A deux chevaux under the trees poses nicely.

Just across the road are some elegantly impressive Roman remains, known as Les Antiques.

Next stop (and next blog post), the ever-favorite Bistro du Paradou – can’t wait to introduce our guests to this memorable spot!