Look through any window. The views are always fantastic in Arles.
When Vincent Van Gogh set up his studio in a bedroom here, it inspired him to create 300 paintings and drawings in just two years in the 1880s.
Even today, this city in Provence is filled with galleries and artists create murals and pop-up showings.
We’re here on a shore excursion arranged by Carnival Cruise Line during Carnival Vista’s stop in Marseille. It’s an hour’s drive through a landscape framed by the wildflowers, fields of greens and yellows and the sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh and generations since.
The narrow maze-like streets originally laid out by the Romans 2,000 years ago are perfect for a morning of rambling and admiring the visual sense of the city.
If you’ve got a window, it seems you have to be artistic with it. Check these out:
The yellow house where Van Gogh had his studio isn’t around any more. But there are many memories of it and its windows and chairs in many of his paintings.
Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he persuaded Paul Gauguin to come and experience it as well.
In preparation for Gauguin’s visit, Van Gogh bought two beds and two chairs for the sparsely furnished room that was his studio. He was inspired to paint his decorating job and even portraits of Van Gogh’s Chair and Gauguin’s Chair.
Still around and very popular on starry, starry nights is the café that Van Gogh made the subject of one his most famous works.
Arles today is still inspiring art, and photography. Galleries abound and their displays spill out onto the streets. Art gets turned into posters to fill in blank walls–think two story high watermelons and flying cows.
And a very droll school of modern impressionist photographers and sculptors show some of their best work in public spaces here as well. You may run into a photo of a nude in a doorway or a Renaissance-style portrait of a woman wearing a lacy formal ball gown ecstatically chowing into a fast-food burger in a gallery window.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Arles this summer, the city has managed to overcome one of its historic artistic losses. All of Van Gogh’s works from his mad sojourn here have in the years since gone into collections and museums in other cities.
But this year, there are dozens of them on loan for the exhibit Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh through September 11, 2016.
The gallery on a back lane is not the easiest place to find. But it’s definitely worth the effort to seek it out.