Slacking in Saint Remy
A family holiday in Provence
When I was pregnant with Lior, my third child, I decided that our family really needed to find refuge from the crazy pace of urban lives. All I wanted was to find a place where we could hit the pause button and ensure that we have family time before all those babies turn teenagers, get married, and forget about their parents! Fours years later, and after a very extensive (read: painful!) renovation, we have finally started enjoying our corner of peace in Provence, just outside the little village of Saint Remy de Provence. St Remy – as the locals call it – is famous for being très Provençal and for having attracted artists and intellectuals throughout the centuries: Van Gogh, Nostradamus and the Marquis de Sade just to name a few.
There are many reasons why you could fall in love with Provence. It’s incredibly rich in culture, with arts and music festivals all around, especially in summertime. Thanks to the infamous wind called Mistral, the sky is bright blue most of the year. The amount of outdoor activities is almost infinite (hiking, horseback riding, biking, rafting, gliding, lazying, eating ...). The food is healthily delicious with a lot of local (and organic) produce to be found everywhere, including the colourful markets. St Remy lies at the heart of this region and is lively all year long. It’s located between the fascinating cities of Marseille, Arles, Avignon, Isle sur la Sorgue, Nimes, Aix en Provence and many more ... making it an ideal base to explore the region. And it’s very easy to access with the airports of Marseille, Nimes and Avignon nearby, as well as the TGV (fast train) from Paris, and the Eurostar from London.
Here are my favorite places:
If you’re staying for more than a few days and coming with friends & family, you’re better off renting a house. We’ve done our research and our house
Mas de la Roubine
is the best (at www.kidandcoe.com). No, we’ re not biased! (Ps: we’ve also listed our home at www.behomm.com in case anyone’s up for a swap. Yes, we’re still travellers at heart). However, if you prefer a hotel:
sous les FiguieRs
is walking distance to town. Sweet, well priced and delicious breakfasts. www.hotelsouslesfiguiers.com
Mas des Figues
is a welcoming agro-tourism / b&b outside town tested by our friends, with a big garden including 1,000 olive trees and more than 4,000 roses.
le Chateau des alpilles
is the grande dame of St Remy. A small castle with an incredible park and centuries-old platane trees where you can also have dinner. Fancy but very special.
le haMeau des baux
is a 15 drive away in the village of Le Paradou, new and wonderful for families, tastefully decorated, beautiful pool and lots of different accommodations possible.
And if you’re a musician with some recording needs ... or would just like to stay in a property surrounded by one of the biggest classical music collections in the world, check out La Fabrique.
Eat & go out
l’aile ou la Cuisse
For an easy and tasty meal inside town. Save room for desserts. www.restaurantlaileoulacuisse.com
CaFÉ de la plaCe
Good Salads and a nice terrace.
for seafood, with a pretty little terrace on the sidewalk.
for simple Italian food (pizza!) and a rooftop terrace.
I scream for ice cream! Easy.
The place to be for a mojito and to hang out with the locals.
12 Boulevard Gambetta,
+33 (0) 6 60 08 18 41
hotel de touRRel
is a beautiful and stylish new hotel with a wine bar. The German owner is very knowledgeable about local wines.
And just a bit further away (15’ drive):
le bistRo du paRadou
is an institution, in the nearby village of Le Paradou. You’ll find as many locals as American tourists. Have a designated driver, the road is tricky! They serve a set (and different) menu every day.
57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux,
+33 (0) 4 90 54 32 70
in the pretty village of Maussane-Les-Alpilles where locals and celebrities queue for one of the best pizzas in the Alpilles mountains.
1 Rue Edouard Foscalina,
+33 (0) 4 90 54 40 73
Sights to see
The Tourism Office of St Remy organizes tours in English on various topics including one about Van Gogh on Saturday mornings. They also sell a pass that includes all the important monuments and museums in town for a reduced price.
Excellent small art museum in the heart of the village.
Musee des alpilles
Interesting museum about the cultural and natural landscape of the area.
7 Rue Carnot,
+33 (0) 4 90 92 68 24
is an interesting archeaological site (with a festival in early July).
the CloisteR oF saint paul Mausole
CaRRieRes de luMieRes
Great with children, an art show of light and sound around different themes of art in an unusual space near the castle of Les Baux.
Pretty villages nearby:
les baux de pRovenCe
stunning medieval castle, go at sunset to avoid the crowds, Egalieres (weekly market is Friday am), Maussane-les-Alpilles, Mouries and so many more!
Good to know... Links to keep
has a van for up to 8, and can drive you anywhere, including putting together a tour of wineries. He’s a pilot as well and can take you on a flight above the Alpilles!
Provence through the eyes of an Australian in St Remy is always very inspiring.
about restaurants in Provence is an entertaining read. Private chef Yves Gilardi comes round to cook in your home. He does magic even in the tiniest kitchens.
can take you around on the markets and show you how to cook Provençal dishes.
blog has an incredible wealth of information. www.theprovencepost.blogspot.de
And my own blog of course! At bozaround.com you can find many more infos for a great and relaxing holiday in Provence.
Et voilà. The Italians have Tuscany. And we have Provence.
written and photographed by