Postcard from Arles: the Road to Tarascon

The painter on his way to work

Postcard from Arles: the Road to Tarascon
24th September 2007 Jane Tomlinson

9 September 2007 

The road to Tarascon heads north out of Arles from Place Lamartine, which in 1888 was the site of Vincent van Gogh’s Yellow House.

Vincent drew and painted himself on the road “on his way to work” is how he put it, on the road to Tarascon, and today I wanted to find this view and experience it for myself.

This painting was destroyed in 1944 during an Allied bombing raid on the German museum in which it was housed.

Exiting Place Lamartine, at the point where the Yellow House once stood:

… you immediately pass under the same viaduct that Vincent did (van Gogh aficionados will recognise this view):

Vincent’s walk took him past fields and orchards, over canals, and down the tree-lined roads – it was one of Vincent’s favourite walks and took him into the landscapes which inspired him to produce some the greatest paintings ever made.

Today the N570 is still tree-lined but you have to drive through Arles northern suburbs, past out-of-town commerce centres and car sales lots until you finally escape the town.

Today, just as you exit the town, you meet a roundabout which links with Arles’ new eastern bypass. It gives the traveller a choice of continuing to Tarascon, or turn east towards Montmajour and La Crau:

Today we continued north, looking for a view like the one in Vincent’s drawing On the road to Tarascon

…and we found it. Here’ me on the road to Tarascon:

I know it’s only a road, and I know it’s only a drawing but to be able to find a point on the road today with the mountains in the background and trees lining the road just like Vincent showed us in 1888 was really a thrill for this van Gogh aficionado!