As I mentioned in the previous post, we rented a house near the town Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (henceforth known as St-Rémy). We were actually in this teeny tiny little hamlet called Maillane (population around 2200 inhabitants) but St-Rémy was definitely the place to hang out.
St-Rémy is known for being the birthplace of Nostradamus, an apothecary (that would be the ancestor to today’s pharmacist/physician) who lived in the 16th century and who is world famous for a book he published containing “prophecies” written in poetry form. Some people say Nostradamus correctly predicted several world events but that is left up to debate–I have not read Nostradamus’s book nor am I familiar with any of his alleged “prophecies” so I don’t feel qualified to comment on any of that.
Apart from being the birthplace of a “seer,” St-Remy’s idyllic scenery seemed to be the peaceful outlet Vincent van Gogh was seeking when he voluntarily committed himself to the Saint-Paul Asylum (after he famously cut off his left ear). Van Gogh lived there from May 1889 to May 1890 and made many paintings of the clinic and its garden while he was there. This is where he painted what is arguably his most famous painting–The Starry Night. Sadly, the stay in the asylum did not do much for Van Gogh’s mental health–he shortly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the stomach only a few months after leaving.
You can visit the asylum where Van Gogh stayed and see a mock up of his room (I didn’t end up visiting it though my family did). It is still a psychiatric institution today and continues to treat patients: http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/saint-paul-mausole/
So that’s all for the town’s funky history. When I went to St-Rémy that Wednesday morning, it was for more girly related reasons and had nothing to do with Nostradamus/Van Gogh–we did some shopping at the marché! And oh what a marché it was!
The main square was crammed with booths and vendors selling all sorts of things: food, clothes, handbags, Provence style kitchen ware, tablecloths, Provencal knickknacks, shoes, jewelry… It was so crowded! We were lucky we managed to find a place to park with our rental car! I knew my mother would enjoy the marché because she loves Provence markets and everything they sell. However, I underestimated her enthusiasm. It was like she had died and gone to heaven or like Christmas had come early. She wouldn’t stop describing it afterwards as UN-BUH-LEE-VUH-BUHL (unbelievable for the uninitiated).
Also, I’m sorry for the way I cut out my parents’ faces. I’ve said it before, but for privacy reasons they don’t like having their faces plastered all over my blog. I assure you my mom had a huge smile on her face in the first picture! She was in her element–surrounded by Provencal kitchen ware.
Spices and herbes de Provence:
More cookware, a giant empty paella bowl, some tablecloths, and some handbags. So many things to look at and take in, so overwhelming!
My mother is obsessed with espadrilles and would not shut up about me buying her espadrilles in Spain. When I refused to do as she asked (need I remind you I had to somehow fit all my junk into 2 suitcases at the end of August after 2 years in Spain and fly back to New York, I didn’t need more stuff taking up precious room in my bags), she found some at the marché and bought some for herself. With my father’s money.
So after being the dutiful husband and treating his wife to some shoes, my father ran to the nearest cheese stall to buy some cheese. He can be such a walking French stereotype sometimes.
And I got myself a snazzy sun hat from these guys:
We all had a great time at the marché, but without a doubt my mother enjoyed it the most. She kept getting distracted by all the pretty things and wandering over to booths without warning my father and me. It was like trying to keep track of a kid in a candy store.
And to give you an idea of what the marché was like, I found this wonderful and well-edited video on Youtube of a walk through St-Rémy. The market shows up in the first few minutes (it’s 8 minutes long so I won’t blame you for not watching beyond the first 2 minutes!).