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Visiting Van Gogh in Arles with Teens

by Barbara Rogers

Mar 7, 2022

© Crystal Craig | Dreamstime.com


Since the Immersive Van Gogh Experience began appearing in cities across America and Europe, captivating family travelers, young people have also come to discover this Post-Impressionist artist in a new way. His vibrant colors and bold brushstrokes breathe life into subjects ranging from a vase of sunflowers to the star-filled night sky.


In the 360-degree digital show, 60 projectors bring 200 of his masterpieces to life on a surface of more than 10,000 square feet, animating the floor and all the surrounding walls in a kaleidoscope of color. This immersive interaction has sparked the imagination of a whole generation that hadn’t been turned on to art.


More than 300 of Van Gogh’s works, including some of his most iconic pieces, were completed in and around the small city of Arles, in southern France. On a trip there, your teens can really step into the scenes, standing where his easel once stood when he painted them. Reproductions of the paintings at each spot let them compare the scene with Van Gogh’s impression.


Ten of these sites in Arles are marked on the Van Gogh Walking Tour map, which you can pick up at Arles Tourist Office or download online. One of the most familiar scenes is the café in the Place du Forum, the setting for Café le soir. The café is still there, but is now an over-priced tourist stop — better to choose one elsewhere on the square and enjoy the view of it.


Along the banks of the Rhone River, which runs through central Arles, you’ll find the spot where Van Gogh painted his Starry Night over the Rhone. While not as famous as his later iconic Starry Night, you can see how he was experimenting with painting night skies.


For a complete Van Gogh experience in Arles, your family can even take art lessons that explore the artist’s use of color and brush strokes. Your teens can go home with their own original Van Gogh paintings!


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