I have just returned from two weeks outside Avignon in Provence with 13 of my wife's family (including their interior designer, but that's another story).

Although clichéd, it really is true that colours seem almost visually digitally enhanced in this beautiful part of southern France. Crisp blues stand out against rugged landscapes and you wonder whether someone has turned up the contrast button somewhere.

No wonder therefore that some of the world's most famous and beautiful art has been and indeed continues to be composed in the countryside around Avignon, Arles and Aix-en Provence.

While trying to recover in the hospital outside St Remy de Provence, Van Gogh, at the very pinnacle of his artistic genius, juxtaposed against his failing mental health, created almost 200 paintings and almost as many drawings in a little over a year. Most that survived are considered, quite rightly, to be some of the most fabulous pieces of art from the early 20th century and in colour composition terms, possibly never since quite matched.

In value output terms (apologies for the crass analogy) from a handful of artists working with an easel and brush, Provence can boast a GDP to rival Silicon Valley and one that will certainly stand the test of time.  

Vive La France!


-Martin Betts