Ah Paris! It has been a few years since we have been in Paris but the memories of the beautiful city are intoxicating. Rue Mouffetard is an area of Paris’ Left Bank not far from Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter, that has a fantastic open-air market. The aroma of flowers, produce, pastries, and cheeses fill the air as does the chatter of Parisians and tourists. This display of artichokes was so expertly displayed, with a great sense of color and texture, I could not get the sight out of my mind until I put it on canvas when we returned home. Paris is an inspiration.
There was something a little melancholy about Arles. Beauty is found there. At the heart of the city, I was surprised and impressed by the well preserved Roman amphitheater and the arena – which is undergoing a very dramatic restoration.
Of course Arles’ most famous – perhaps infamous – resident was Vincent Van Gogh. This is where some of his finest paintings were created – “Starry Night”, “The Cafe with the Yellow Awning,” “The Postman”. It is also where Gaugin lived with Vincent for a short time until Vincent’s troubling behavior became too much to tolerate. After Vincent’s notorious breakdown when he sliced a piece of his ear off and presented it to a prostitute, the people of Arles had him arrested and petitioned him to be expelled from the city. That led to his move to the asylum in St. Remy.
St. Remy in Provence offers so many sensual treats. Golden sunrise – didn’t see many of those as we also love to sleep in. The herbs and flowers in the garden giving up subtle hints of their afternoon perfume But the best is the fragrance of coffee and fresh baked French breads. Flaky or crisp crusted, French breads are the best in the world. I loved the contrast of the woven basket, white cotton lining and the golden breads. On a weathered teak wood table, under a canopy of trees caressed with soft Provencal morning sunlight – what a great way to wake up my sleepy eyes.