Vincent Van Gogh at The Saintes-Maries de la Mer

Isolated between the Rhone and the sea, that remote village, far away from the inland towns, is inhabited by fishers, gardians, small peasants who grow vineyards, rye and rice.
It has a charm of its own… That end-of-the-world atmosphere charmed Mistral who chose les Saintes-Maries de la Mer for the last Act of Mireio, a long epic poem.
Vincent knows the story of Mireille, who dies of love in the high chapel of The Saintes-Maries de la Mer’s church, after crossing the Camargue by foot… And whose unfortunate hero is called… Vincent.
“Vila de la Mar” which became “Nostra Dama de la Mar”, then “Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer », has about 800 inhabitants.
Around two hundred houses surround a nice fortified Roman church, a defensive site and a highly regarded place of pilgrimage since the twelwth century.
In a Letter to Theo, he expressed his fear of the wind preventing him from working outside,
but in fact he would quickly paint the three canvas he had brought with him, and would achieve more than a dozen drawings.

His Stay
After a five-hour trip, by stagecoach, crossing “vineyards, moors, fields as flat as Holland”, Vincent discovers the village: “I don’t think there are 100 houses in this village or this town. You should see these houses, like those in Drenthe’s heaths and peat bogs . The main edifice after the old church, ancient fortress, is the barracks”.
He boards in a small inn and soon sets to work; As always, he goes for walks, looking for patterns to paint or draw..
He was in a hurry to see the sea, the beach ravishes him: “on the all-flat, sandy beach, small green, red, blue boats whose shapes and colours are so beautiful like flowers.”