16.06.11 VAN GONE, MASSIVE GRAVEYARD and LOOK FOR A GOOD TRAITEUR
When in France, we eat out quite a bit. But we also eat in quite a bit and when we do we call to the Traiteur, usually a butcher, who prepares cooked dishes that just need micro-waving or a few minutes re-heating in the oven. I have gone miles out of my way here on previous occasions to call to a good traiteur and this time we have a good one on our doorstep in Fontvieille.
Called there a few minutes ago to pick up enough Veal in a Provencal Sauce for two and also a couple of scoops of mixed marinated olives, all for about ten fifty. I’m touting the traiteur cause here as I find quite a few Irish people don’t know about him! He makes it easy for the cook – an extra half hour in the pool!
And that extra half hour was badly needed today after a hard enough slog though Arles, searching for Van Gogh. Not easy! There are some obvious reminders. One of the cafes in the very popular Place du Forum has been renovated to look like the Cafe at Night Painting. Oh Yeah!
Thought I might have hit on something good when I eventually found L’Espace Van Gogh, a cultural centre that looks big on the town map. It is the old Hotel-Dieu, with a library and exhibition place. Aside from the fact that this was then the hospital that aided the artist after his ear incident, there is just one effort with re-connection and that is the courtyard garden which is said to look like it did back then.
The trouble with Arles and Van Gogh is that he is gone and they missed the boat. You’ll find none of his work here. But, if you are prepared to look, you’ll see how much of the work was inspired. Look at the wind, especially the Mistral, the clear skies, the crows and the cornfields and you’ll have more of an insight than available at the souvenir ships of the Espace.
And you may also look at Les Alyscamps, the subject of a few (three, I think) of his paintings. A visit here costs €3.50, slightly overpriced I thought. This was, for a long time, from Roman times to the late Medieval times, one of the largest graveyards in Western Europe. People were dying to get buried here for 1500 years! Forgive the morbid pun but check out the fascinating facts here.
On the way back to our parking, close to where the Rhone cruise boats dock – a huge Swiss one had just been replaced by a giant German – we came across the site of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhone” (top pic). He still tempts the people of this lovely town but you won’t find him hanging on any wall here. Look to the wind and those small black crows!