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Under the azure Provençal skies, encircled by ribbons of lavender fields and vineyards, the cobbled streets and squares of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence enchant all who see them.
Sitting atop thousands of years of history, the village of Saint-Rémy, generously endowed with friendly neighbourhood cafés, Michelin-starred restaurants and Roman ruins, is the ideal place to pause for a moment and savour Provençal life. Here's a quick round-up of the best things to do in the area on our Perfumes of Provence cycling tour.
After arriving in Marseille, Nîmes or Avignon airport, you'll be taken to your hotel in Saint-Rémy. Take some time to explore the narrow roads of the old town. Stop off at one of the city's small neighbourhood cafés, grab an espresso and people-watch with the locals. It's an easy walk to the Musée Estrine – Présence Van Gogh on the Rue Lucien Estrine, in the town's centre.
Dedicated to Van Gogh’s life and legacy, the museum houses a small collection, and explores his influence on other Provençal artists. Afterwards, pop into the nearby Michel Marshall tea room and patisserie for buttery homemade pastries and artisan cakes in an intimate setting.
No insight into the life of Van Gogh is complete without a trip to the asylum where he spent much of his time. A short cycle to the south of Saint-Rémy, Saint Paul de Mausole monastery has been transformed into a museum in honour of the artist.
His room, which once inspired one of his most famous paintings, has been faithfully restored to look as it did in the artist's time. As the shadows lengthen, turn your eyes to the sky and try to imagine the stars as streaks of encircling white and yellow paint – this was what Van Gogh saw in 1889 when he painted The Starry Night here.
All of that walking and cycling works up an appetite. Fortunately, you're in the right place. Michelin stars rain down so heavily on Saint-Rémy, even Van Gogh would have difficulty painting them all.
The area's most decorated spot is the two-star L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence. A short journey from the centre of Saint-Rémy, visitors are rewarded for their efforts with exquisite examples of Provençal cuisine in a peaceful countryside setting.
Be sure to try some of the famous local wines from L’Ostau’s extensive wine list, and finish your meal with the house speciality – a delicate millefeuille with a pistachio florentine, Madagascan vanilla cream and ice cream.
For something a little closer to town, try the Bistrot des Alpilles. With its famous set menu and classic French terrace-style seating, the Bistrot des Alpilles is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed meal whilst soaking up the sights and sounds of an evening in Saint-Rémy. Try the royal sea bream fillet with pan-fried artichoke, mange-tout and country bacon, or rustic beef tartare with french fries and salad.
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