In the Footsteps of Van Gogh:

Amsterdam, Paris, and Provence

Interim 2013

Professors Schmunk and Davis

Last update 29 January 2013

Created and Updated by G.R. Davis


Final Quiz


Project Description Contacts
Highlights Maps
Daily Itinerary State Department Info
Accommodations Travel Security
International Flights

Travel Health

Expenses & Insurance Passport Information
Books and Reference Materials What to Pack?
Expectations Know Before You Go!
The Instructors Links
Roster & Roommates College Release Forms
Weather Forecast for Paris Weather Forecast for Amsterdam
Weather Forecast for Marseille Quizzes as MS Word document


In the Footsteps of Van Gogh: Amsterdam, Paris, and Provence

During a brief artistic career passed largely in isolation and obscurity, Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) produced the brilliantly colorful and intensely expressive paintings that are now among the most widely known and admired of all works of art. His biography abounds with surprises and poignant ironies. Participants in this project will explore Van Gogh’s life, art, and cultural milieu in depth, learning about his failed pursuit of careers in ministry and missionary work, his solitary development of his artistic skills, his interests in Japanese prints, French literature, and German music, and his friendships with other avant-garde artists. After a week of on-campus preparation devoted to study of the artistic trends of the time, reading of Van Gogh’s letters, analysis of his paintings, and the screening of biographies on film, participants will embark on two-and-a-half of weeks of travel, divided between Amsterdam, Paris, and Provence in the south of France. This itinerary will encompass visits to cities, towns, and neighborhoods where Van Gogh lived and worked, landscape settings where he walked and painted, museums holding the largest collections of Van Gogh’s work, the monastery-asylum where he was voluntarily confined for a year and where he painted The Starry Night, and the graves of the artist and his brother, whose constant financial and emotional support made Vincent’s art possible.

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Highlights of the travel experience

Amsterdam, Otterlo, and Utrecht: The Van Gogh Museum, The Rijksmuesum, and the Kroller-Muller Museum.

The Hague: The Mauritshuis Museum's works on display at the Gemeente Museum. Also visit Museum Mesdag.

Paris: Les Invalides, Musee de l'Armee, Sante Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre and Musee d'Orsay, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, Palaces and Gardens of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.

Auvers-sur-Oise: Maison Van Gogh and Vincent's gravesite.

Avignon: Papal Palace.

Arles and vicinity: The Roman Arena, Les Alyschamps lined with ancient sarcophagi, Langlois Bridge, Le Crau plains with wheat feilds and groves, St. Trophime church, Abby of Montmajour and Abby of Notre Dame.

Montpellier: The Fabre Museum.

St Remy de Provence: Visit the Asylum.

Marseille: Cathedral Ste Marie Major, Centre de la Vielle Charite, Notre Dame de la Gard and a Free Day in Marseille (optional hike along Les Calanque.)


Daily Itinerary as of 6 January in MS Word Format

Jan 3- Jan 5 (Thursday-Saturday) Readings, lectures, films and discussions on the following topics: Introduction to European Art in the 19th Century. A biography of Van Gogh addressing the historical and artistic contexts in which he lived and worked. Basic French for Tourists. Students research for presentations to be delivered on site.

Jan 7: (Monday) Departure for Amsterdam.


Jan 8: (Tuesday ) Arrive in Amsterdam. Drop luggage at NH City Center Hotel. General orientation tour of the city. Dinner provided at hotel.
Jan 9: (Wednesday) A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience. Nowhere else in the world can you see so many of Van Gogh's paintings in one place. Here you can follow the development of the artist's work through all its stages and compare it with the work of other 19th-century painters in the collection. Dinner on your own.

Jan 10: (Thursday) Tour of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with an emphasis on the works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and other artists Van Gogh admired. Free afternoon. Plan your time to tour the Rembrandt House and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Famous for diamonds, you may want to tour de Beers gemcutter shops or explore Amsterdam via boat on the canals. Dinner provided at hotel.

Jan 11: (Friday) Excursion through countryside to Otterlo and the Kroller-Muller Museum where many of Van Gogh's sketches and drawings are archived. Our trip will take us through southeastern Netherlands to visit some of the lesser known sites that influenced Van Gogh including a stop in Utrecht. Dinner on your own.

Jan 12: (Saturday) Tranfer to the Hague for one night at the Mercure den Haag Central. See the holdings of the Maurishuis Museum on display at the Gemeent Museum followed by a visit to the Museum Mesday. Dinner provided at hotel.

Jan 13: (Sunday) Free morning in The Hague followed by 8 hour bus ride to Paris. Dinner provided at Hotel Normandy.


Jan 14: (Monday) Full day tour with entrance to Les Invalides, Napoleon Tomb, Musee de l'Armee, Palais Chaillot view point, Sainte Chapelle and Catheral of Notre Dame. Dinner on your own.

Jan 15: (Tuesday) Tour the Trocadero and La Defense and spend the rest of the day at the Louvre. Dinner provided at a local restaurant.

Jan 16: (Wednesday) Montmartre, Sacre Coeur. Free afternoon. Dinner on your own.

Jan 17: (Thursday) A day at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. This branch of the Louvre, housed in a spectacular 19th century train station, showcases 19th century art including the works of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Pissaro, Manet, Monet and many others.

Dinner on your own.

Jan 18: (Friday) A full day excursion to Auvers-sur-Oise, a quiet village west of Paris and tour of the former Ravoux Inn where Van Gogh's room has been preserved intact. After four months in Auvers under the care of Dr. Gachet,Van Gogh's life ended at age 37 with a gunshot to the stomach. We'll climb a footpath to the tiny cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother Theo are buried beneath a cypress tree. Dinner provided at hotel.


Jan 19: (Saturday) Long distance (11 hour) bus trip to Arles, arriving at Best Western Hotel Atrium where dinner is provided.

Jan 20: (Sunday) Excursion by bus to Avignon where we'll tour the Papal Palace and city center. The Papal Palace, while unrelated to the work of Van Gogh, illustrates a much earlier period in the history and architecture of Provence. Returning to Arles, we'll enter the Roman Arena and stroll Les Alycamps, the Espace van Gogh, and the church of St. Trophime. Dinner on your own.

Arles was the town where Van Gogh sought to establish a workshop for artists. The colors of southern France were inspirational but a tempestuous relationship with his guest Gaugin erupted in violence. Van Gogh cut off part of his own ear. Shortly thereafter, Van Gogh checked himself into the asylum at St. Remy where he continued to paint during his year-long voluntary stay. He periodically experienced psychotic episodes that disrupted his painting.


Sites particular to Van Gogh's sojourn in Arles:

  • Espace Van Gogh (courtyard of the hosptial, a former monastery) where Van Gogh stayed intermittently over several months

  • Les Alyscamp, the ancient sarcophagus-lined Roman road where 80 generations have been buried.

  • The site of the Yellow House where Van Gogh hosted Gaugin and dreamt of creating a workshop for artists.

  • Place du Forum where Van Gogh painted the Cafe Terrace at Night

Other sites for which Arles is famous:

  • Saint Trophime, a church of historical significance

  • the Roman Arena

  • The Foundation de Vincent Van Gogh en Arles which showcases the work of contemporary artists in homage to Van Gogh


Jan 21: (Monday) In the vicinity of Arles, we'll ride into the countryside to the ruins of the monastery at Montmajour, encountering the scenery that Van Gogh painted including the bridge of Langlois. Dinner provided at the Atrium Hotel.



Jan 22: (Tuesday) A bus trip in Provence to Montpellier, the Fabre Museum and St. Gilles du Gard. Return to Arles for overnight. Dinner on your own.

Jan 23: (Wednesday) Departing from Arles, we'll tour the Monastery of St. Paul de Mausole in St. Remy with its crypt and chapel. In this asylum, Van Gogh battled psychotic episodes while continuing his art. Upon arrival e in Marseille we'll have our dinner provided at our hotel Mercure Marseille Centre.

Jan 24: (Thursday) Full day sightseeing tour in Marseille to Cathedral Ste Marie Major, Centre de la Vielle Charite, and Notre Dame de la Garde. Dinner on your own.


Jan 25: (Friday) Full free day with dinner provided at Hotel Mercure. Consider a day hike with Drs. Schmunk and Davis along the mountainous sea coast at Les Calanques. Dinner at Hotel Mercure.

Jan 26: (Saturday) Breakfast at hotel, transfer to Marseille Airport for the return to Spartanburg.

Jan 28-30 (Monday-Wednesday) Morning meetings to review and summarize our experiences. Student will complete papers and journals.

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Our hotels place us within easy walking distance of historic sites, markets, and restaurants. Our accommodations are subject to change if it becomes possible to substitute other hotels to improve our already excellent proximity to points of interest.


In Amsterdam: 8-11 January, 2013
Park Plaza Vondel Park

Koninginneweg 34-36
Amsterdam 1075 CZ The Netherlands
TELEPHONE: +31 20 664 6111 FAX: +31 (0) 20 65 51 080

In The Hague: 12January, 2013
Bel Air Hotel The Hague

Johan de Wittlaan 30
2517 JR The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel. +31(0)70 352 53 54
Fax +31(0)70 352 53 53

In Paris: 13-18 January, 2013
Mercure Gare de Lyon

2 place Louis Armand
75012 - PARIS

Tel : (+33)8/25800707 Fax : (+33)1/43474194 Mail :


In Arles: 19-22 January, 2013
Best Western Hotel Atrium
1 Rue Emile Fassin "Les Lices"
13200 Arles, France
skype 877-662-6988


In Marseille: 22-26 January, 2013
Holiday Inn Express

15, Boulevard Maurice Bourdet, Marseille, 13001, France



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International Flight Information



Departure City





DL 915 (Delta)







DL 604



AMS  (Amsterdam)




AF 4312 (Air France)


MRS (Marseille)





DL 033







DL 1209









College Release Forms

Several legal documents MUST be completed prior to travel. The documents are listed on the College Webpage for Travel Interim Release Forms.

Interim Release
Medical Service Authorization
Statement of Good Health
Leave Permission Form
Refund Policy
Behavior Contract

The documents are all downloadable and must be completed, signed properly, and received by Wofford College before any student may be cleared for participation in the Interim travel/study project in which the student is enrolled.

Deadline for submitted signed travel release forms are due at our Mandatory Meeting. You may turn in those forms to Dr. Davis earlier, along with a photocopy of your passport.

The proper completion of each of the forms--except the Statement of Good Health --requires the signature of a parent or guardian, whether or not the student is 21 years of age or older. For the Release, the student must sign, with both the student's and parent or guardian's signature being properly witnessed and dated. The Statement of Good Health is to be signed by the examining physician.

While normally not a requirement for participation in the project itself, the Leave Permission Form is necessary should a student wish to leave the project group for a free-time excursion during the off-campus portion of the project. The instructor may grant permission and approval for such only if the Leave Permission Form has been executed and submitted.

The students should carefully review with their parents the Refund Policy, which must also be signed and returned.

None of the forms require notarization. Please note that photocopied or facsimile ("fax") reproductions of the forms are not acceptable.

Please execute and return promptly to your faculty sponsor.


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Expenses and Insurance

The course fee of $4550 covers round trip bus transportation to departure airport, round-trip international airfare, all lodging, all breakfasts and ten group dinners, ground transportation, medical and life insurance for the travel portion, entrance fees, local guides and minimal tips for guides.

The course fee does not cover trip cancellation insurance, books, lunches and snacks, some dinners, souvenirs, costs of excursions taken during free time and any other incidentals. Depending on one's appetite and penchant for shopping, as little as $300-$400 pocket money should suffice.

A word about trip cancellation insurance: Trip cancellation insurance is not included in the course fee and is optional by your own arrangement. Trip cancellation insurance provides some financial protection should it become necessary to miss the trip or return to the US prior to our scheduled flights because of sickness or death of a close relative. Trip cancellation insurance will not pay if you simply decide not to make the trip.

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1) Attendance and participation is required at all meetings prior to departure. Selected readings will be distributed and assigned prior to Christmas break. Students are expected to complete the readings during the holidays.

2) Each student is to keep a daily journal during the trip in which notes and impressions are recorded. These journals will be checked periodically by the professors during the travel portion of the interim.

3) Each student will write a summary paper which examines in some depth the events, individuals, and influences that contribute to the uniqueness Van Gogh's art. In this paper, the student is expected to integrate information from a variety of sources as well as include personal observations which indicate thoughtful reflection. The paper will be completed during the last week of the Interim period.

4) Each student will be assigned a painting that we will encounter during our travel to the various museums. The student is to prepare an on-site presentation of approximately 5- 10 minutes in which the significance of the painting is to be explained based on consultation of reference materials that address the painting and the letters of van Gogh in which he decribes his conditions influencing the creation of that particular piece.

5) Students are expected to participate cheerfully in all activities, to be attentive and respectful to guides and instructors, and to consult the reference materials related to each excursion to more fully appreciate the significance of the sites we visit.

6) Students are expected to agree to Behavior Contract. Conduct which endangers, embarasses, or disrupts is not acceptable.

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Reference Materials

Books: * required for the course.

* The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (1996) by Ronald deLeeuw. ISBN 0-14-044674-5
Students will read extensively from this text and pairs of students will be assigned selected letters to present to the class.

*Van Gogh (2001) by Ingo F. Walther. ISBN 0-7607-2328-1
This small book provides a concise summary of van Gogh's life and career. It includes many high quality copies of his paintings.

Van Gogh: The Life (2011) by Steven V. Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. ISBN 978-0-375-50748-9 ebook ISBN 978-1-58836-047-2. This is the latest most complete biography for lay readers. It is thoroughly researched and documented and will serve as rich resource.

An excellent source for new and used books is Alibris at


Films: Two may be shown during class meetings.

Vincent and Theo starring Robert Altman. This film portrays the tense relationship of the Van Gogh brothers and depicts Vincent's instability.

Lust for Life, a movie made in the 1950's based on the biography of the same title by Irving Stone.

Vincent. Readings from the letters with evocative scenes.

Akira Kurosawas's Dreams. One segment of this videotape consists of an fantastic imaginary stroll in and through several of Van Gogh's paintings.


Other Reference Sources

Also see the Links to Websites.

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Peter L. Schmunk has taught art history at Wofford College for twenty-five years. He regularly teaches courses on medieval, baroque, and nineteenth-century art and architecture, and has twice taught an upper division course for art history majors on Van Gogh. His principal research interest is in the influence of music on nineteenth-century painters. He has given a number of presentations at scholarly conferences and published several articles on Van Gogh’s interest in music as a model for the intensely colorful and expressive paintings produced at the height of his artistic career. Over the past twenty years, Professor Schmunk has organized numerous interim trips to European countries, including France, Germany, Greece, and Italy.

G.R. Davis joined the Biology Department in 1993 where he regularly teaches human physiology and other courses particularly relevant to students intending to pursue health professions. He has traveled with student groups to Trinidad, Tobago, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nambia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, Italy, and Greece. He has a strong interest in art history. Like Dr. Schmunk, Dr. Davis is a serious photographer.

Questions concerning this Travel Interim project can e-mailed to Dr. Schmunk or Dr. Davis .

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Anderson and Grantham


Andrews and Imber


Baldwin and Brown


Cannon and Lanford


Cauthen and Hunt


Decker and Strasburger


Ezekiel, Namey and Miller


Futch and Richardson


Grayson and Sodergren


Houching, Jennings and Young


Raabe and Shedd



Drs. Schmunk and Davis, assisted by local English speaking guides at some of our venues, will provide specific information at each location.

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Travel Agent

Alda Kop of Universal Travel has organized over 40 Interim travel courses for Wofford College since 1993 and has vast experience, especially in arranging travel to Europe.

Spartanburg telephone 576-6616 or toll free 1-800-849-0167


Universal Travel can assist with various types of optional travel insurance. Contact Alda Kop for more information.

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Dr. Peter Schmunk, Professor of Art History

Dr. G.R. Davis, Professor of Biology

Alda Kop, Universal Travel


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US State Department International Travel Information

An excellent source of reliable travel information is provided by the US State Department. Their webpages concisely summarize the geography, people, population, government, economy, foreign relations, history, and political conditions for every nation. US State Department Country Pages for France and The Netherlands.

Check here for Current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements.

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Travel Security Issues

Is is safe to travel in France and the Netherlands? Europe is generally considered quite safe for US citizens to travel. There are no State Department warnings other than the usual petty thievery alerts typical of large cities. We will be traveling as a group accompanied by a local guide on charter buses. Lodging will be in urban settings in "three star" or better hotels. During free time, travelers are expected to employ ordinary personal safety measures such as traveling with companions and avoiding locations known to be suspect.

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Travel Health Issues

No immunizations are required for travel to Europebut several are recommended by the Center for Disease Control. The recommended immunizations are listed together with tips for staying healthy. You'll discover that only typical immunzations are suggested: Hepatitis A and B, and tetanus.

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Passport Information

Passports are required for travel. Visas are not necessary. The instuctors will need a photocopy of each student's passport.

If you already have a passport:

Check the expiration date to make sure that the passport will be valid six months beyond the duration of our travel. Please bring your passport to Dr. Davis' office in Milliken Science Hall 203 E so that a photocopy can be made and the passport number and expiration date can be recorded.

If you need a passport:

Getting a passport is not complicated, but does require 4-6 weeks for processing. Passport applications can be obtained from the Passport Office in the Main Post Office at the intersection of Church Street and Henry Street in downtown Spartanburg. The Passport Office is open 8am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-1pm Saturday. To complete and submit the application, you will need

As soon as you receive your passport, notify Dr. Davis so that he can record your passport number and the expiration date.

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What to Pack?




Personal items:

Practical suggestions:


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What you should know before departure.

Prior to departure, one should possess at least some basic knowledge of a destination. Of course one should be familiar with exchange rates for currency, the language, time differences, local customs and courtesies, the "lay of the land," and the significance of each point of interest. A list of questions will be posted here to assist students as they prepare for departure. Here are some questions to get you started:

Class meetings in Daniel 101 beginning at 9am. Topics for class meetings are listed elsewhere.


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Links to Websites

Van Gogh in the WebMuseum of Paris A brief biography with many of van Gogh's paintings arranged in categories.

The Van Gogh Museum with a concise timeline of his life.

Van Gogh's Letters with annotations.

US State Department Country Pages for France and The Netherlands.


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