Most people know of Nostradamus and his visions of the future. Many believe that his prophecies have predicted wars, natural disasters and space missions. But what many people don’t know is that he came from a Jewish family, he studied medicine in Montpellier and spent many years helping to cure victims of the plague, and that he was an astrologer for the Royal family, providing Catherine de Medici with horoscopes for her children.
Nostradamus was born in the town of Saint Remy de Provence in 1503 but I am visiting Salon de Provence where he finally settled down, died and is buried. These days it is a sprawling town encircled by a large ring road. I arrive early and park outside the town at a huge college and sports complex where there is a free bus into the centre. A market lines the main street with stalls of fruit and vegetables as well as clothes, shoes and leather handbags. The tourist office is easy to locate and I pick up a comprehensive heritage guide to the local museums, monuments, fountains and statues. They excitedly inform me that the Emperi Castle and museum are free for the year, but what they don’t mention is that it is closed in the mornings for building works.
Close by is the house where Nostradamus spent the last 19 years of his life. I’ve read that it is very outdated and overpriced, so I don’t bother going in. Besides, I am more interested in seeing his tomb which is located inside the Collegiate Church of Saint-Laurent in the northern part of town. The church is an impressive 14th century Gothic building and I am keen to get inside to see the beautiful alabaster statue of the Madonna and child, the statue of the deposition as well as the tomb of Nostradamus. Unfortunately, the church is also closed.
His wife wrote his epitaph which reads: “To our good and great God. The remains of the most illustrious and unique Michel Nostradamus, in view of all mortals, whose near divine pen could describe the future events of the world over from the influence of the stars. “