While strolling recently in Arles with Christine, I didn't realize to what extent we happened to be walking in the footsteps—as it were—of Vincent van Gogh. It's only today, in front of my computer, that I discover retrospectively various associations of this kind.
This photo shows the majestic stone portal of the Hôtel-Dieu, with a poster indicating its new name: Espace Van Gogh. In France, the former expression (literally, God's hostel) designates ancient hospitals, often alongside a cathedral, in various great cities such as Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Angers.
In Arles, on Christmas Day 1888, Van Gogh used a razor to slash an ear lobe. Several months later, observing the painter's abnormal mental state, people in Arles signed a petition to have him interned at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. The other day, I took a couple of photos of the hospital courtyard, covered in flowers.
Van Gogh did a painting of this same courtyard.
Two other Van Gogh paintings present the bridge at Trinquetaille.
This is the bridge that Christine's grandfather Paul Marteau would have crossed regularly, as a youth, when walking back and forth between his native Trinquetaille and the main city of Arles. It was destroyed by Allied bombers in August 1944. When Christine and I were strolling between Trinquetaille and Arles the other day, we were using a bridge that was built in 1951 to replace the old one.