Van Gogh headed to Arles believing that the landscape of Provence would have parallels with Japan, whose art he greatly admired. The south of France was an exciting new land, bursting with life. He loved walking the 5 kilometres up into the hills with the ruined abbey of Montmajour and in late spring he drew and painted over a dozen landscapes there. He went on an excursion to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a fishing village on the far side of the Camargue, where he saw the Mediterranean for the first time, energetically capturing it in paint. He painted portraits of friends and locals, and embarked on his flower still life paintings, culminating in the Sunflowers. During the heat of the Provencal summer, Van Gogh painted harvest scenes. He rented the Yellow House from May, and gradually did it up, calling it 'an artist's house', inviting Paul Gauguin to join him there. This encounter was to have a profound impact on both of the artists. They painted side by side in the Alyscamps, an ancient necropolis on the outskirts of town, their collaboration coming to a dramatic end in December.