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It was Vincent van Gogh that drew me to Auvers-sur-Oise, France. His story. His paintings. Auvers-sur-Oise his last stop.
When you arrive in Auvers-sur-Oise France, only 27 km (17 miles) northwest of Paris, it is not hard to see why Vincent van Gogh fell for this picturesque village. He loved it so much he described it to this younger brother Theo in a letter as “seriously beautiful.”
In Auvers-sur-Oise, France, van Gogh tapped into his incredible source of creative inspiration and completed 80 paintings in seventy days.
Vincent van Gogh arrived in Auvers-sur-Oise, May 20, 1890, after leaving the asylum in Saint-Rémy in the south of France. Auvers-sur-Oise, France proved to be van Gogh’s final place of inspiration and sadly, where he took his own life on July 29, 1890.
Vincent van Gogh’s spirit feels close by as you explore Auvers-Sur-Oise France. Standing in the wheat fields or behind the church, it is not hard to imagine van Gogh studying the landscapes, paintbrush in hand, creating his masterpieces.
When I visited Auvers-sur-Oise, France not everything had reopened after the spring confinement of 2020, but there were plenty of interesting things to see and do. Here is how to spend your day in Auvers-sur-Oise.
1. Auvers-sur-Oise | Explore The Quaint Village
Arriving in Auvers-sur-Oise is sure to put a smile on your face. It’s a charming French town with narrow laneways, shuttered homes and the scent of roses guiding your exploration. My greatest rose weakness – Pierre de Ronsard roses – framed doorways and gates.
Turn down every street in Auvers-sur-Oise, walk up the hills, and imagine van Gogh walking along these very pathways. Don’t forget to make your way to the River Oise. Find a shady spot. Bring a picnic. Or maybe your sketchbook.
2. Auvers-sur-Oise | Follow The Artists’ Pathway
The town of Auvers-sur-Oise is fiercely proud of its historical and cultural heritage. Vincent van Gogh was not the only artist inspired by the landscapes at Auvers-sur-Oise. Other artists such as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne (who spent most of his life in Aix-en-Provence) passed through or stayed to create their artistic interpretations of this bucolic paradise.
In Auvers-sur-Oise France visitors are invited to follow paths marked by panels exhibiting the masterpieces that were painted in and around Auvers. I loved standing right where the artists created their masterpieces, studying the paintings on the panels and pondering the artist’s interpretations.
3. Visit Auberge Ravoux (The House Of Van Gogh)
Please Note: The Auberge Ravoux website (August 2021) claims that the “House of Van Gogh” remains closed until March 2022.
I visited at the beginning of the deconfinement (June 2020) from Covid-19 and the Auberge Ravoux was closed. It is still possible to have a worthwhile and memorable visit to Auvers-sur-Oise France
Start your visit at Auberge Ravoux, also known as the Maison de van Gogh. Up in the attic of Auberge Ravoux, a historic site, is the tiny room #5 where Vincent van Gogh lived and died during his time in Auvers-sur-Oise France.
Auberge Ravoux, has kept Vincent van Gogh’s room bare and sacred. You can usually pay to visit the room for €6. I wonder if you can feel van Gogh’s presence and imagine his paints and canvasses stacked against the wall.
Stay for a meal at the Auberge Ravoux which has been in operation since 1876. The atmosphere is late 19th century and the classic French menu was visible as I peered through the windows wishing it was open.
4. Behold The Church At Auvers-Sur-Oise
The delightful church at Auvers, the église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, built in the early Gothic style, is the subject of one of van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces.
The painting L’Église d’Auvers, with its gorgeous indigo sky and expressive wavy lines, hangs at the Musée d’Orsay.
5. Auvers-sur-Oise | Sit In The Wheat Fields
You are so close to Paris and yet so far. The landscape around Auvers-sur-Oise is stunning. Wheatfields stretch as far as the eye can see and inspired another of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces, Le Champ de Blé aux Corbeaux (The Wheatfield and Crows) which hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
6. Visit Doctor Gachet’s House
Doctor Gachet agreed to look after van Gogh when he moved from the south of France to Auvers-sur-Oise. Doctor Gachet, an engraver and painter, and van Gogh became friends. Vincent van Gogh painted Dr Gachet’s home and garden and two famous portraits of him. One of the portraits of Doctor Gachet hangs in the Musée d’Orsay while the other was sold privately in 1990 for $82.5 million. This particular portrait has an interesting history and its current private owner is a mystery.
Dr Gachet’s little white house in Auvers-sur-Oise is a museum that houses art exhibitions. The garden is a lovely oasis to take a short break from exploring.
Maison du Docteur Gachet, 78 rue Gachet, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
7. Pay Homage At van Gogh’s Grave In Auvers-sur-Oise
Follow the pathways through the forest and wheat fields to reach the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Vincent van Gogh’s grave, covered in ivy, marks the life of the misunderstood genius.
Although seemingly stable, Vincent van Gogh, 37 years old, went out into one of the fields surrounding Auvers-sur-Oise and shot himself in the abdomen. He died in his brother Theo’s arms in his little room at Auberge Ravoux. Vincent van Gogh was laid to rest in the cemetery in Auvers-sur-Oise the day after he succumbed to his wounds. Because he had committed suicide, no service was allowed at Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption- d’Auvers. A service in his honour was held in the Auberge Ravoux.
Theo died six months after Vincent and his remains, initially buried in Holland, were moved beside his brother in 1914.
Just behind the stone wall where the two brothers are reunited in death, stretch the wheat fields where van Gogh created one of his most famous masterpieces, The Wheat Field and Crows.
8. Auvers-sur-Oise | Enjoy The Daubigny Museum
Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878) was an artist that lived in Auvers-sur-Oise France for eighteen years. He originally painted in Barbizon, another delightful day trip from Paris, where an artist colony thrived.
Vincent van Gogh was a huge admirer of Charles-François Daubigny. When van Gogh arrived in Auvers-sur-Oise, he went to see Daubigny’s house and garden. His first painting of Daubigny’s garden was completed on a tea towel as van Gogh did not have a canvas.
The Daubigny Museum, in an ancient manor house from the 1600’s, has over 100 of Daubigny’s works and also presents special exhibitions.
Summer 2021 – the museum does not require you to show your health passport as it receives less than 50 people at a time.
9. Uncover The Myths Of Absinthe At The Museum
Absinthe. Also known as “La Fée verte” (the green fairy). Many artists during this period were heavy absinthe drinkers. The museum houses classic posters advertising the drink and authentic objects for the ritual of consuming absinthe.
Musée de l’Absinthe, 44 rue Alphonse Callè, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
Summer 2021 – the museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
10. How To Travel To Auvers-sur-Oise From Paris
By Train to Auvers-sur-Oise:
The train trip to Auvers-sur-Oise from Paris will take approximately one hour. Take the train from Gare du Nord or Saint-Lazare to Pontoise.
Switch trains to the Transilien Line H, Pontoise to Auvers-sur-Oise. (approximately 13 minutes/ 4 stops).
The station in Auvers-sur-Oise is right across the street from the Auberge Ravoux.
By Car to Auvers-sur-Oise:
Take the A15 towards Pontoise and then the A115 in the direction of Beauvais-Amiens. Look for the signs “Maison de van Gogh.” The drive to Auvers-sur-Oise from Paris will take about 40 minutes, depending on traffic.
More Travel Info…
Where To Stay:
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If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.