Pt. 3: More of Provence then Paris

Over a month later… (I told you I’d write this, I never said when)

If you have heard of the town of St. Remy, you probably associate it with its insane asylum. This is where Van Gogh was treated between 1889 and 1890. Supposedly, it was from his bedroom window that he created Starry Night depicting the city. As a patient, he had a habit of taking walks in the gardens. Some of his other works from the time portray quotidian scenes from this peaceful residence (eg Irises). Today, grounds are still used to treat the mentally ill and the patients’ artworks are for sale in the Gift shop. Indeed, those who see the world through different eyes seem to produce the most profound art.

Les Baux de Provence are considered to be one of the most beautiful places in France. The city name is derived from the regional word for a rocky spur, baou. With its unique character, it is easy to see why this city is revered.

Mt. Ventoux seems to be the Everest of the cycling world. A favorite stage in the Tour de France, this mountain challenges riders to a  grueling climb 1912 m into the air. Susie’s dad explained that every year, they see countless ambulances rushing by (you can see the mountain from their house) to rescue some idiot, amateur cyclist who collapsed. My family drove.

The next day we headed to the beach house at La Capte. Although the water was still too cold to go in, we still enjoyed strolling and eating beach side before heading to St. Tropez. The French Riviera is home to French and foreign celebrities alike. One such is Brigitte Bardot of Godard’s cult classic, Contempt. From twenty thousand euro outfits to yachts big enough to hold other boats inside them, this region is filled with luxury and gold seems to be the new black.

My last stop with my parents was Paris where we visited my uncle (not actually my uncle – it’s an Asian thing), his wife, and my aunt (also not actually my aunt). My uncle is the kind of guy who will open 3 bottles of wine with a meal: one to titillate the palate, one to accompany the main dish, and one with the cheese plate and/or dessert. My uncle kept filling my glass. At that point, I could honestly say that was probably the highest BAC level I had ever achieved.

This wasn’t my first time in Paris, nor, I hope, will it be my last. Four years ago as a sophomore, I came with my high school. There’s a superstition that if you step on Point Zero which marks the center of Paris (in front of Notre Dame), you will return to Paris. The picture of the left is from four years ago. Now, [at least] seven of the people in the original picture have returned at least once. 

My first time in Paris was a little rushed. I think we got a total of about 3 hours in the Louvre. This time, I went back and did it properly spending the entire day there. The day after we did similarly with the Musée d’Orsay. Due to current renovation, the galleries are all moved around so works that are not normally placed together are now juxtaposed. Inside the gallery I heard an American say (rather loudly), “Oh, Van Gogh, finally some Impressionist art.” Sir, do you know where you are!? This museum is home to one of the most impressive collections of Impressionism in the world. Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Bazille all under one roof! It blows my mind!

Another must see in Paris is the Rodin museum. This was on my dad’s list of things to see from four years ago, so this time we really had to go. If there’s one thing I learned at this museum, it’s that bronze sculptures are ridiculously complex to make. Props to Rodin for his mastery of such a non forgiving medium.

The next day, I was on an overnight bus on my way to Amsterdam.

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