Historic Faces, Famous Places

Strolling through picturesque villages and sitting at pavement cafés will fulfil your need for a relaxed holiday, but let the choice of location guide you. Where did Van Gogh work, where did Matisse stay and where did Dalí live?

Let’s go on an art discovery tour.

Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, Frida Kahlo’s bed from which she painted, Banksy’s street art in hidden alleyways to the holiday resort of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Joan Miró: these are places you can see with your own eyes. Those who wish to escape from the madness of everyday life should follow in the artist’s footsteps and go on a voyage of discovery. As Picasso said: ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Bon voyage!

Walking in a work of art
Follow Vincent van Gogh through Arles

Aer leaving the bustling Paris life, painter Vincent van Gogh settled in the French town of Arles in 1888. His stay in the quiet coastal town marks one of the most productive periods in his painting career. It’s where he lived and worked in The Yellow House, which once stood on Place Lamartine and where he repainted his famous bedroom – that charming work featuring a simple room with a wooden bed, chairs and a small table in a slightly odd perspective. If you get a seat on the terrace of Le Café La Nuit on Place du Forum, you will envisage yourself in his painting Café Terrace at Night. Or you could take an evening stroll along the waterfront near Musée Réattu and, with a bit of luck, see the Starry Night Over the Rhone unfold before your eyes!

Follow in the footsteps of Banksy in Bristol

Unlike his identity – which is still a big secret – his art is public. The work of British graffiti artist Banksy can be found on the streets. Of course, you can look for it in major cities such as London and Paris. But did you know that the industrial English port of Bristol is the birthplace of Banksy’s stencil street art? Bristol is the city in which he grew up and where a lot of his street art can be found. Take a look at Sydney Row, where his Girl with the pierced eardrum adorns a façade. The newest addition in Bristol is an old lady sneezing her dentures out, appropriately titled Aachoo!, which can be found on the corner of Vale and Park Street. Don’t want to miss out? Numerous street art tours are led by guides with the latest knowledge of new additions and know exactly which murals have (unfortunately) disappeared or been painted over.

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Sleep like a painter

Lodge like Picasso and Matisse
Before the charming, vibrant, ivy covered La Colombe d’Or became a renowned hotel, it was a simple guest house. And not just any guest house, but the preferred accommodation for famous budding painters. None other than Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró spent the night in the picturesque French Saint-Paul de Vence. Since these poor painters were not always able to pay for their room and board in coins, they often paid in the form of a freshly painted artwork. You are now reaping the rewards of this: don’t be surprised if you find yourself dining among artwork by the greats, which might be better suited to a spot in the better museums. Nowadays, old guest books are safely stored in a safe, because they have also become works of art: decorated with sketches by Picasso and a self portrait by Charlie Chaplin. It’s fascinating how you can get so close to old masters and famous people over time. - la-colombe-dor.com

Spend the night as an Artist in Residence
Let’s hope the giant spider in the courtyard of The Fife Arms in Braemar, Scotland, doesn’t appear in your dreams at night. The famous Spider by French artist Louise Bourgeois also graces the square of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The art hotel is home to other museum-worthy treasures: Lucian Freud, Man Ray and Pieter Brueghel the Younger adorn the walls of the hotel. If your hands start twitching at the sight of so much fine art, you can indulge yourself in the Artist’s Studio: a creative suite overlooking the Scottish Highlands. It has been specially fitted out to allow your creativity to flow and it is equipped with all sorts of painting supplies, palettes, brushes, easels – you name it. Lying in the bed-box of your attic room, inspiration will flow naturally. And hopefully that spider will stay away. Magic. - thefifearms.com

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At home with the artist
Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny

Claude Monet’s ponds were a subject he painted time and again. In the back garden of his studio in Giverny, France, he created a little paradise, with a pond full of water lilies (very rare in Europe at the time) and a Japanese bridge. The garden still grows and blossoms today. His house, garden and studio are open to visitors, thanks to the efforts of the foundation that bears his name: Claude Monet Foundation. -  fondation-monet.com

The house of Dalí in Port Lligat

In the Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí in Port Lligat, Catalonia, you can take a look inside one of Dalí’s former houses. Together with his wife and muse, Gala, he transformed two former fishing huts into their very own love nest: maze-like passages, lots of levels, a mirror in which you can watch the sun rise and the bedroom on a stage. This was Dalí’s permanent place of work and residence until his beloved Gala died. After his loss, he left and Dalí never returned to their shared home, which is now owned by the Spanish government. - salvador-dali.org

La Casa Azul by Frida Kahlo
One thing is certain: Frida Kahlo’s life and work were and are colourful. Her former home in Mexico City, which now houses a museum dedicated to her, is also proof of this. La Casa Azul (‘The Blue House’) gives you a glimpse into her life. In addition to her work, you will see the bed from which she created many paintings due to her disability, iconic photos and even the unusual costumes worn by the eccentric artist. - museofridakahlo.org.mx


Three overnight stays with an art collector
Art collectors Lady Athena McAlpine and the late Lord Alistair McAlpine transformed the former convent Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Puglia, Italy, into a retreat for art lovers. ilconventopuglia.com

On the estate of the prestigious Hauser & Wirth Somerset Gallery, you will stay at Durslade Farmhouse surrounded by art, design and the landscap gardens of architect Piet Oudolf. dursladefarmhouse.co.uk

At Numeroventi gallery in Renaissance Florence, you will sleep among artwork by young artists who reside and create in the same building as Artists in Residence. numeroventi.it

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