Sheron Long has generously provided Animal Cafe readers with a four-part series on her gypsy-at-heart traveling dog Chula’s escapades and explorations during trips through France. Over the next few cold, wintry weeks we’ll get to enjoy a little of the sunny climes of the South of France, imagining the scent of lavender in the air!
Four Paws in Provence
Chula, a traveling dog and the author of Dog Trots Globe – To Paris & Provence, packed light with only a fur coat and four white socks (no shoes). Then she set off with Bob and me for a 2-month adventure through the south of France, in the area known as Provence. After a 3-hour trip on the bullet train, Chula settled into Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, her hometown.
The trips to France with Chula began three years ago when Bob and I were first able to spend two months at a time there. The thought of being without Chula, our 9-year-old Sheltie, for so long was unthinkable, and that’s when she made her first trip to France and turned right into a traveling dog.
Glad to Be in Saint-Rémy
Chula loves her home in Saint-Remy. She has a big backyard where she can run and run, bark at the cats, and do some digging.
Her village is a short trot away, and there is no shortage of cafes and bars that welcome her. She especially loves her life under the bistro tables in beautiful Place Favier.
This square dates back centuries and is surrounded by old stone homes, one now the Musée des Alpilles. A visit to this museum provides a pleasurable walk through days gone by, including the agricultural history of Saint-Rémy, a town known for its seed production since the Middle Ages.
Chula the Sheltie is an experienced traveler and star of the book Dog Trots Globe
Following Van Gogh through Arles
Trotting further afield, Chula and I headed toward the old Roman town of Arles so that we could walk in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh made the sites around Arles famous through his paintings, and the Van Gogh path leads you to many of them.
At each site you can admire the subject matter and see a replica of the painting. We went everywhere—to the Café de Nuit (a night club Van Gogh frequented at the Place du Forum) and down to the banks of the Rhone River where he stood in 1888 to paint the Trinquetaille bridge and the starry view back at Arles.
We ended up back in the main square in front of City Hall. Chula paused for just a moment to take in modern life around the big fountain in Arles. On this windy day, she marveled at these big “water bowls” the French seem to set out in village squares, and she smiled in gratitude at their thoughtfulness.
A Visit to Van Gogh’s Hospital Room
On the way back to Saint-Rémy, we stopped at Saint Paul de Mausole, where Van Gogh underwent therapy for a year after the unfortunate ear injury in Arles. The hospital there was associated with an earlier monastery and both still exist, including an art therapy program for patients today.
Chula nosed all around Van Gogh’s room. If her hind legs had been taller she could have seen out his window to the fields, the iris, and the village of Saint-Rémy that he painted so prolifically during his year’s stay there.
It had been a big day, and even a traveling dog like Chula didn’t object to getting back home. After all, she needed to rest up for many more adventures in beautiful Provence.
Chula’s full-length book Dog Trots Globe covers her adventures in Paris and Provence, including an encounter with 3,000 sheep. Hardcover book available from OIC Books and Amazon, which also carries the standard eBook. Enhanced eBook with embedded videos and music available from Apple for iPad. Keep up with Chula’s continuing adventures on her Facebook page.
Sherry founded and directed The Hampton-Brown Company, a leading publisher of language and literacy materials in the K-12 education space. After National Geographic acquired the company in 2006, she served as CEO of the combined group known as National Geographic School Publishing. When she retired in 2009, Sherry and her family, including Chula, began spending more time in France and now split their time between homes in Carmel Valley, California, and Saint-Remy-de-Provence.
Text and Images copyright © Sheron Long. All Rights Reserved.