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.
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.
History of Saint Remy-de-Provence
First record, First record, 5th century: Glanum (a Gallo-Roman city)
Medieval Name: St. Rémy-de-Provence (when the village was given to the monks of the abbey of St-Remi-en-France)
Prehistoric: Signs such as early rock carvings and Hallstatt pottery has been discovered in local grottos, including the grotte de Baldouin, grotte des Chats and grotte des Nuits.
Gallo-Roman: The antique site of Glanum, just south of town at the edge of the Alpilles, was a Greek city, eventually covered by a Roman city, and there are some beautiful Roman artifacts, including a mausoleum and the oldest Roman arch of the narbonensis region. (Roman)
Medieval: The "modern" town of St. Rémy-de-Provence was founded under the protection of the Abbey of St-Rémi of Rheims after the destruction of Glanum.
Place Jean Jaurès - just south of the old center, on the road towards Les Baux-de-Provence and Glanum.
Tel : 04 90 92 05 22; Fax: 04 90 92 38 52
Market day: Wed.
Mar - Carnaval
May (Pentecôte Mon) - Fête de la Transhumance - with sheep, goats, asses (Whit-Monday)
June - Feu de la Saint Jean - parades, animations, dances around the fire - evening
July - Fête du Vin et de l'artisanat - Wine Festival
Aug - Carreto Ramado - enormous Charrette pulled by 50 galloping horses
Aug - Feria Provençale, including running the bulls in the streets, fireworks, etc
• GPS: 43.788591, 4.830037
IGN (1/25,000) #3042 OT "Tarascon, St-Rémy-de-Provence, Alpilles"
The GR6 Hiking Trail goes through St. Rémy. To the west, the GR6 climbs up the center of the Alpilles to Baux-de-Provence, then follows the ridge to the end, and continues on northwest to Tarascon and Pont du Gard.
St. Rémy to Baux-de-Provence via the GR6 is 7-8 km, starting at 60 m altitude, climbing to 313 m at the Tour de Guet, dropping to 160 m, then up to 218 m at Baux. It's probably about 3 hours each way, making it a good day hike out and back. The hills are thickly forested, wild and beautiful.
To the east, the GR6 also climbs up to the top of the Alpilles, then goes east past Eygalièes and Eyguières, crossing the autoroute north of Salon-de-Provence.
- Camping Municipal de Mas de Nicolas
- Tel: (33) 490 92 27 05; Fax: (33) 490 92 36 83
There's a great selection for dining in St Remy-de-Provence. Bvd Victor Hugo along the SE edge of the old town has a string of popular restaurants with terraces, and there are many others in the old center.
One favorite is Le Bistrot de Marie on Rue Jaume Roux. The food and service are great, of course, and the interior is a magnificent museum of ancient items. We've eaten here off and on over the years.
A recent favorite (Jan 2016) is La Celtie, a crépe restaurant by the south end of Rue du Huit Mai. Again, excellent food and service, and a nice interior with high glass-ceiling room.
St Rémy-de-Provence is in the region of the new appellation, Coteaux Baux-de-Provence wines. (see Provence Wines)
Transportation Saint Remy-de-Provence
St Remy-de-Provence Transportation is listed on a separate page.
Contributed by Marcia D., Los Angeles, Nov 1998
In St. Remy, we have twice stayed at the 2-star Hotel Canto Cigalo. It was about $50/night, including breakfast. The owners are exceptionally gracious, and one has a generous breakfast in the beautifully laid-out and maintained gardens.
In St. Remy, we also found two restaurants worth mentioning. Both are a little pricey by our standards (albeit not St. Remy's). The first is Bistro des Alpilles. Excellent local cuisine, and you have to love any place that garnishes a dish with basil picked from a window plant immediately before service. The second is Jardin de Frederic, with amenities, service and cuisine typical of places costing far more. About $30/person for an a la carte dinner including 1/2 carafe of wine.
Contributed by Winy Chen, San Francisco, Nov 2000
I also would like to recommend a GREAT hotel in St. Remey for our future readers. The name of the hotel is called "Les Ateliers De L'Image". For those who enjoy modern amenities and bright modern rooms, I highly recommend this one. After days of sleeping in antique B&Bs, my husband was ready for a change. "I am fine with looking at antiques or Roman ruins, but I need to sleep somewhere that's modern," he said. Well, this one is surely modern! What is so interesting about this hotel is that it is a combination of photo workshop, art gallery and a 12 bedroom hotel. The hotel, which used to be a movie theater, has been renovated to become a tastefully decorated Provencal house, minimalistic and sleek in style. The staff are extremely friendly but you don't feel like you're bounded to hold a conversation with them. Relaxing jazz/classical music play throughout the day; the hotel itself is a retreat.
Contributed by Finn Skovgaard, May 2008
Restaurant l'Olivier, 21 boulevard Mirabeau, 13210 Saint Rémy De Provence, Tel: 04 90 92 10 19. Fresh and tasty produce, original and affordable menu, traditional French cuisine with Asian inspiration a couple of places. Their wine menu presents the best of the local wines from the appellation contrôlee Baux de Provence, and at a very reasonable price. Friendly and informal service. I recommend this. Others I've sent there have been satisfied too.
Contributed by From Laurel, Sept 2009
Restaurant l'Olivier, 21 boulevard Mirabeau. [...] The place was empty, which should have been a tip-off. It was the worst meal we have had in France. [...] [Beyond: Laurel's email was specific about a very badly cooked meal. It might have been an off-night, or a change in the establishment in the past year.]
Our dinner the night before at Brasserie Alpilles was delicious. We also enjoyed La Forge, L'Olivde, La Cassolette, and Bistrot Decouverte.