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FAQ Questions People Ask About St-Rémy-de-Provence

My wife and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a town famous for its Roman ruins, Vincent van Gogh, and its fabulous weekly market.

I’ve written two guidebooks about the area, plus hundreds of articles, so I get many questions from people planning a visit. While this isn’t a question, I found it so inspirational that I wanted to share this message, “I’m 80 years old and moving to the St-Rémy area.” I responded, “Moving to a new country at age 80! Bravo, sir.”

Here are some of the questions I’ve received recently.

What is the weather like in St-Rémy?

The shoulder seasons of April to mid-June and September to mid-October are typically warm and sunny with occasional rain. It can get quite hot between those two periods, from mid-June through August. Before April and mid-October, the risk of cool weather increases, and the winter can be very cold. St-Rémy gets about 20 inches of rain a year, with summer being the driest period. The mistral wind, Provence’s strong and blustery wind, can arrive any time and usually lasts a few days.

St Remy chateau des alpilles

©Val Van Sickle

How do I get to St-Rémy by plane? By train?

The nearest international airport is Marseille, about an hour’s drive away. The closest train stations, one for the high-speed TGV and one for regular trains, are about 20 minutes away in Avignon. A TGV runs directly from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Avignon.

How do I find a place to stay in St-Rémy?

Because my wife and I stay for several months at a time, we don’t use hotels, though there are several excellent ones in St-Rémy. Friends tell me good things about Hotel Gounod, Hotel du Soleil and Spa, Hotel de l’Image, and Château des Alpilles. We’ve looked for places via VRBO, AirBnB, Gites de France, and the St-Rémy tourist office for extended stays.

Where can I do a wine tasting?

Wine has been produced here since the days of the Romans. My favourite wineries are Château Romanin, Domaine des Terres Blanches, Mas de la Dame, and Mas Sainte-Berthe. They all have friendly tasting rooms with English-speaking staff.

Vineyards of the Alpilles

FAQ St Remy Château Romanin Vineyard

©Château Romanin Vineyard

Where can I taste olive oil?

Olive oil goes back a long way here. The first Christian king of France, Clovis, was anointed with St-Rémy olive oil during his coronation in 509. My favourite places to buy olive oil are Moulin Castelas and Moulin Calanquet, which has both an olive mill and a boutique outside of St-Rémy, plus a boutique in town.

Moulin de Castelas

©Moulin CastelaS

Where can I find fields of poppies in the spring?

Beautiful fields of red poppies (les coquelicots rouges) are one of the glories of springtime. They aren’t in the same place yearly, so you must look around. Two likely spots are along the Vieux Chemin d’Arles, between St-Rémy and St-Étienne-du-Grès, and then along the D30 between St-Rémy and Noves. I’ve also seen some lovely fields in the nearby Luberon Valley.

Poppy field in the Spring in Provence

©Keith Van Sickle

Can you recommend a local tour?

I get a lot of questions like this from people who would like help planning their trip. I always send them to a friend Julie, an American who has lived in St-Rémy for 20 years. She can help with most travel needs—finding a place to stay, organizing day trips, planning a foodie e-bike tour; you name it. She covers Provence and the Cote d’Azur. Please contact us, and we will put you in touch.

I can’t have gluten; where can I find things to eat?

I have celiac disease, so I can’t eat gluten either. The local stores Intermarché and Alpilles Bio both have good selections of gluten-free products: kinds of bread, crackers, cereals, tarts, and more. I’ve had success dining out at the St-Rémy restaurants A la Table de Nicolas, Chapeau de Paille, Le Marilyn, and Bistrot St-Rémy, as well as the nearby Le Clos Saint Roch in Maussane and L’Oustalet Maianen in Maillane. Bringing a gluten-free restaurant card is a good idea if you don’t speak French.

My List of Favourite Restaurants

St Remy restaurant chapeau de paille

©Chapeau de Paille

What is driving like in Provence?

French drivers are good, except for their tendency to tailgate. French roads are generally in good condition, and there is a well-developed set of autoroutes (freeways.) The autoroutes are toll roads, so you occasionally must stop at a péage to pay or pick up a ticket. Be sure your GPS is not set to “avoid toll roads,” or you might find yourself on some very slow roads!

How do I access health care in St-Rémy if the need arises?

The traveller’s best friend is the French pharmacy. Pharmacies are everywhere with well-trained staff. They can help you with most of the problems you might experience on a trip: headaches, stomachaches, rashes, cuts and scratches, and that sort of thing. For more severe problems, there are several clinics in St-Rémy and hospitals in Avignon and Marseille.

I need fast WIFI. How do I make sure the place I rent has it?

Fast fibre is becoming more common in St-Rémy, but not every place has it. When searching for a place to rent, look at the description to see if fast internet is listed or if any comments mention it. You can also write to the proprietor to ask.

Can you tell me about local Jewish history?

Provence was once the center of Jewish life in France when Jews found protection in the French Papal States (an area in and around Avignon). Important Jewish historical sites exist in Avignon, Cavaillon, l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and Carpentras, including France’s oldest synagogue. St-Rémy has a beautiful Jewish cemetery but is not open for visitors. More information on visiting Jewish sites in Provence, including directions for a driving tour, can be found on the official French tourism site.

Carpentras Synagogue

©La Synagogue de Carpentras

Where can I see a “French bullfight”?

First, this isn’t bullfighting but a local sport called course camarguaise. Doodads are wrapped around a bull’s horns, and brave young men have to run up to the bull and pull them off. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I’ve never seen anyone get hurt (including the bulls.) You can find the schedule of events at the tourist office.

course camarguaise in provence Questions about St Remy

©Perfectly Provence

12 Ideas for Your Visit to St Remy

Keith Van Sickle splits his time between Provence and California. He is the author of the best-selling An Insider’s Guide to Provence. But how do you get a table at a romantic restaurant? Where is the best place to walk on a hot day? With so many market vendors, where do you start? For answers to some of those questions and many more, check out, An Insider’s Guide to St-Rémy-de-Provence. So, if you are planning to be in the Alpilles, buy a copy of this handy 146-page reference guide filled with countless local tips. Read more at Life in Provence.

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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