08.06.11 Van Gogh at the Clinic; Olives, Wine and Lunch at Amandin’s

08.06.11 Van Gogh at the Clinic; Olives, Wine and Lunch at Amandin’s
The credit card didn’t know what hit it this morning. First call was to the nearby Castelas, an olive oil maker’s shop on the road to Baux de Provence.  A couple of tastings and soon we were filling a bag with different types of oil and also quite a few cosmetic products made from the olive.
Minutes later, we were at Mas de la Dame. Mas means farmhouse in these parts and this is an old one. It was painted by Van Gogh during his stay at nearby St Remy but the painting is lost though a “likeness” appears on the winery’s bottles some of which,  again after a few tastings, we bought. Coming home to Ireland are some Stèle blanc and Stèle rouge.
Peace in the clinic. More pics here

The card wasn’t needed at all at the next stop, the Clinique St Paul, across the road from the Roman Antiquities featured earlier. The charge to enter this famous establishment, famous because Van Gogh spent an extraordinary productive year here from May 1889 to the following May, was just four euro. The clinic was operating in the same field for hundreds of years before the distraught painter arrived and is still catering to the needs of patients today.
But there is enough of the place open to the public, including the artist’s bedroom and studio (the place wasn't full in his time, hence the studio availability) and also the 12th century cloisters, and there is some guide to the scenes he painted in and around the clinic. It is a very special visit with, at this time, lavender and poppy flowers in bloom.
We were following the blog advice of well known Irish wine writer Mary Dowey  for our first two stops of the morning and also took her advice for lunch. A quick dash though grassy lanes and modern dual carriageways brought us to the doors of the lovely Auberge de l’Amandin near Beaucaire.
Here, by the small pool, we were seated and  presented with a few menus but didn't get past the Menu du Jour. Three excellent courses for €15.80.
Starter: Smoked Salmon with an acidic dip and a lime piece to squeeze.
Mains: A stuffed duo. Not us. Not yet! The duo on the plate was a round courgette and tomato, stuffed with a high class mince (no fat) and served with a tasty couscous.
Dessert:  Clafoutis with red cherries.
Now, we were the stuffed duo as we paid up and headed back to the gite for a rest!