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Arles – Van Gogh Trail in Arles, France

Vincent Van Gogh lived in Arles, in Southern France from February, 1888 until May, 1889 . He was extremely prolific with his painting during his time in Arles.

Vincent arrived in Arles on 20 February 1888. After spending two hectic years in Paris, he longed for somewhere quieter and sunnier. He decided to move to Southern France to get away from the busy capital.

The Starry Night Van Gogh
Starry Night Painting Rhone, Arles, Vincent van Gogh [Public domain]

Van Gogh in Arles

When he arrived in the small provincial town of Arles, Van Gogh took a room at the hotel-restaurant Carrel, and later, at Café de la Gare at 30 Place Lamartine at a rate of one franc per night .

Café de la Gare (The Night Cafe) - Van Gogh Painting
Café de la Gare (The Night Cafe) – Arles, Van Gogh Painting [Public domain]

In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh describes his accommodation:

Today I am probably going to begin on the interior of the cafe where I have a room, by gas light, in the evening. It is what they call here a cafe de nuit (they are fairly frequent here), staying open all night. Night prowlers can take refuge there when they have no money to pay for a lodging, or are too drunk to be taken in.”

The Yellow House

In early September, he rented four rooms in the the Yellow House. Paul Gaugin moved in as Van Gogh’s guest for nine weeks.

The address of the Yellow House was 2 Place Lamartine, Arles. Unfortunately, the Yellow House no longer stands. In World War Two it was bombed. Today a newsstand and boulangerie stand in its place. 

Yellow House - Famous Van Gogh painting
The Yellow House – Van Gogh painting [Public Domain]

In late December, Van Gogh suffered a major psychotic episode, cut off part of his ear and gave it to a prostitute. Paul Gauguin tired of Van Gogh’s mood swings left in haste back to Paris.

The hospital

Van Gogh admitted himself into hospital and then discharged himself after just over a week. However a few weeks later, he again experienced two more psychotic episodes and returned again to hospital for a longer stay. Today the hospital’s name is L’Espace van Gogh.

The Espace van Gogh was originally built in the 16th century as the main hospital in Arles. It continued to function as a hospital until well into the 20th century. It’s major claim to fame is that Van Gogh hospitalized himself here after his infamous episode of cutting off his left earlobe in December 1888. 

The courtyard’s garden is landscaped to resemble as closely as possible to Van Gogh’s famous painting “Le Jardin de l’Hôtel de Dieu”

The hospital gardens in Arles by Van Gogh
Le Jardin de l’Hôtel de Dieu – The hospital gardens in Arles – painting by Van Gogh [Public domain]

Arles hospital - Van Gogh's trail
Hospital Gardens in Arles Photo by Images by Ophelia [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

The complex now houses the town library as well as exhibition spaces, a series of souvenir shops and a cafe. This place has become a pilgrimage site for Van Gogh fans. It’s address: Pl. Dr. Félix Rey, Arles and entrance is free. 

Although mentally unstable, Vincent Van Gogh painted prolifically during this period. He painted and sketched all around Arles. You can see these paintings in D’Orsay Museum, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and in many esteemed Art Museums all across the globe.

The Langlois Bridge at Arles - Van Gogh Painting
The Langlois Bridge at Arles – Van Gogh Painting [Public Domain]

The Langlois Bridge at Arles - Following Van Gogh's footsteps
The Langlois Bridge at Arles

On 8 May 1889, Van Gogh left Arles and voluntarily committed himself into the mental asylum in Saint-Rémy de Provence. 

With the above information, you should be able to plan out an independent walking tour for following Van Gogh’s trail in Arles.

Looking for an organized tour to Arles in the footsteps of Van Gogh? Check out these awesome options

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To find a great Arles hotel, press on the map below to see options on Booking.com


Enjoy this beautiful part of France! Bon Voyage!