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Teach Through Educational Travel: Arles through the eyes of van Gogh

By admin


Vincent van Gogh is one of the most recognized artists in the world. He’s the painter who created Starry Night, Bedroom in Arles, The Yellow House, Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, and The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles. Van Gogh lived in Arles for a year (1888-1889), where he was entranced with the light, and even hosted another famous artist, Paul Gauguin, and they painted together. van Gogh painted 187 paintings while he was in Arles.

The 1888 painting, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum (also known as Café Terrace at Night), is based on a real café in Arles. If you are in Arles, you can stand at the exact spot where van Gogh set up his easel and painted it! This café, previously called Café la Nuit, is now called the Café van Gogh. You can grab a coffee here, or even better, at the café down the street – so you will have the exact same view of the café as van Gogh did!

Teach Through Educational Travel

  • Watch this video of a tour guide talking about van Gogh and his paintings. Then watch this 3D reconstruction of the perspectives in the painting. Did either of these videos change your perception of the painting?

van Gogh described this painting as “a night picture without any black in it,” and was inspired to paint it by the contrast of yellows to the peaceful dark night. van Gogh corresponded frequently with his brother, Theo, who supported him and his art (and sold it for him, as well). In this letter Vincent wrote to Theo, he noted the paintings he had just done, including Café Terrace.

  • Read his letter, and note his descriptions of colors – aren’t they vibrant? Do you think and see the world in colors like this? This painting was the first in which he painted starry backgrounds (eventually leading to his most famous painting, Starry Night).

Take a look at this website that shows van Gogh’s paintings in Arles alongside photos of the areas he painted. How do his paintings match up to reality? How does his worldview shape his paintings? Personally, I much prefer van Gogh’s paintings! They are so vivid.

  • Download the van Gogh walk in Arles here, and read about one traveler’s experiences on taking the van Gogh walk in Arles here. Do you think much has changed in Arles over the last 100+ years?

This lesson was contributed by Jessie Voigts: Get to know her! Want more lesson ideas? See last week’s Teach Through Educational Travel: Icebergs in Patagonia – perfect for your next classroom activity.

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Educational Travel Tuesday Trivia – Cafe Van Gogh

By admin



This week’s trivia question: In what city in Southern France did Vincent van Gogh paint his 1888 painting, Café Terrace at Night?

Leave your answer below!

Click Here for the answer to last week’s question: What islands are often called the Islands of Saints and Scholars?

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Normandy in black and white: A journey of discovery on D-Day’s 70th anniversary

By David



Working with French hotels for the past seven years, I have become all too familiar with the seasonal travel calendar. The third week of June every other year brings the Paris Airshow and we’d have little chance of getting availability for a group. The Ironman Triathlon in Nice, the medical conferences in Tours, the Avignon Festival in July. The dates are ingrained in my head and send off warning signals as soon as I see them. Almost two years ago I was looking at the calendar for the summer of 2014 and one date jumped out at me: June 6, 2014. The anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy has always been on my radar, but the year stood out to me this time. The year 2014 would represent the 70th anniversary of the landings. My grandfather, Lieutenant Louis Shutoff, had been among the roughly 150,000 Allied soldiers who landed on the Calvados Coast by air and by sea on June 6th, 1944. He had passed away in 2005 and our family knew little about his service. It’s not something he would discuss. When Saving Private Ryan came out, my father had asked him if he would see it. His response? “I’ve already seen it once, why would I see it again?” Fair point. But ever since his passing, we’d all been eager to learn more about D-Day and specifically his experience. While I travel to France at least once a year for work and know Paris and the South pretty well, Normandy was unfamiliar. So I threw out the idea to my wife and to my parents who had been married in France 35 years earlier but hadn’t been back since. Should we try to go to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day? Despite my conditioning to avoid the madness that normally comes along with these type of events, we decided to go for it. We would do our best to research my grandfather’s service in the Battle of Normandy and would spend a week in Normandy re-tracing his steps. If we could get to any of the official D-Day commemorations on June 6th, even better.



Knowing that such an opportunity would not come again, I wanted to find a unique way to document the experience. I took photography back in high school and have had my dad’s old 1978 fully manual Nikon Nikkormat SLR camera ever since. After spending the past two years looking at the few grainy black and white photos that remain from D-Day, I decided it would be appropriate to record the trip on film the old-fashioned way. Unlike in 1944, I was able to scan and digitize the film once it was developed. Here is more of the photographic account of our journey in (hopefully) beautiful black and white.

~David Shutoff, Blog Contributor

David manages WorldStrides’ overseas contracting and operations for the Boston office and has been with WorldStrides for 10 years. 

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Hi, I'm Ashley! I've lived and traveled around the world and I'm a true believer that travel changes lives. I want to share my personal travel discoveries and insights on all of our social media avenues, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! On The Educated Traveler blog, the official blog of WorldStrides International Discovery programs, you'll find all kinds of great information about travel and education, tips, news, classroom lesson ideas and more! Subscribe above!


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