I doubt there is anybody who doesn’t know this expressionist painter which sort of lost it and cut his ear. Once I saw his paintings it stuck in my mind for eternity. They are just beautiful and observing feels sort of magical.
It was a hot evening summer in 2010 and I was watching a documentary about this great painter named Vincent Van Gogh. Documentary on TV at Discovery Channel I think. It was about his life, places where he stayed and painted his famous pieces.
I didn’t have much to do that summer so an idea came to my mind. How about to visit those places from the documentary. Little I knew how life changing this trip will become for me.
I took a low-cost airline Ryanair to a small French town called Bézier. The plane landed, I got off and after few minutes it was in the skies again full of passengers. The plane was gone and I felt like abandoned at the French countryside. It was so hot at Bézier airport, but I was extremely happy to be on my way.
Béziers was a bit scary.
I had a very late dinner there in a local restaurant. It was some weird looking fish with a potato. And it didn’t quite satisfied me. I felt weird. I was staying in some old hotel just in the city center. Akena City Hôtel d’Angleterre was his name. I didn’t sleep much. Maybe it was the fish or the environment but I was scared of that place. At night, it seems like something is moving inside the room making noises. The place also smelled bad and was dirty. I didn’t sleep much. It was like something was in the fish and I felt like drugged. It was fun after all. Arrivals are always hard for me. Next morning everything looked fine and I was ready to start my trip.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent van Gogh
Most of the paintings Van Gogh did were in a little picturesque town of Arles where he lived in the Yellow House with Paul Gauguin. The Yellow House is not there anymore. Just a memory of a place where it all started. They painted there together but after some time Gauguin left to Paris. Gogh was devastated so he cut off his ear.
The Yellow house is not there anymore, but buildings around him still stand.
I took a train to get to Arles. The sun was shining and I was on this adventurous journey only by myself. Just me and crazy Vincent Van Gogh.
Arles is beautiful.
Café Terrace at Night, Arles, France
The café was calm, not so many guests were there and nothing implied the master painter was here. Nothing except the café’s name – Van Gogh’s Café. This place is pretty well known. Even tourists are coming here to take pictures or to sip a cup of coffee and talk about art. But I didn’t see anybody paying attention to this very real but subtle place.
Starry Night Over the Rhone, Arles, France
I know, this photo is not perfect at all, but it is the same place.
I was trying find the exact place where this painting was made and almost thought I will never reach it. Until I finally did. A small stand with a picture of the Gogh’s painting was there to remind people that at that place there was at that time one unknown painter making art.
Garden of the Hospital, Arles, France
Arles Old Hospital was yet another interesting place that people are taking care of to make sure the flowers remain the same like it was in Gogh’s times. It looks almost the same like Van Gogh saw it.
Rudi on the steps of the bridge, Arles, France
Nobody payed attention to the bridge and stairs. People are using it like nothing special happened there. Not so many people know this place and still it is magical to be at the exact spot where Van Gogh was painting a woman in a dark dress – Rudi.
Langlois Bridge at Arles
Damn you twilight.
My last trophy in Arles was this bridge at the country side. I was trying to get there sooner, but the twilight got there first. At least I took this photo to remember it.
Arles is a beautiful historic town. My adventure was now over. But wait! Nothing is over until you go to nearby city Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where most of Gogh’s paintings were made and where they were trying to cure his madness. Yay!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is very close to Arles. It’s another “contagiously” beautiful town in Southern France. This time the city was well prepared for tourists so you can find there a Nursing Home Saint-Paul De Mausole which is now also a museum of Van Gogh’s work. Pensioners from Britain were wondering around the museum and walking on the well-known Van Gogh’s Walk where are showed recreations of his paintings at the exact places where they were painted. It was so relaxing and wonderful.
Les paysans bêchant (Two digging peasants among the trees)
Vincent van Gogh’s room
All this took place in Nursing Home Saint-Paul De Mausole where he was treated because of his mental illness.
Fields and Cypresses
Route à Saint Rémy (The road in Saint-Rémy)
With a road in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ends my journey in steps of Vincent van Gogh. Please leave me comment or what you think about this or share with us your art experience.