A Visit with Vincent Van Gogh in Auvers

A Day Trip from Paris to See Where the Painter Lived, Died, and is Buried

Author: The Traveling Professor/Friday, January 10, 2020/Categories: Paris

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This post, with minor revisions, was originally posted on Laura Keefe Junod's website, https://voyagescholar.com/.  

Chère Readers, today I am sharing with you a special day-trip outside of Paris, which is to visit the town of Auvers-Sur-Oise.  Auvers is 30 kilometers northwest of Paris and is famous as the place where Vincent Van Gogh lived the last two months of his life, and where he died and is buried.  It is a favorite destination of mine because it is easy to imagine why Van Gogh was so taken by this place, and moved by its peacefulness.  [Note:  Sur-Oise means "On the Oise" and the Oise is the beautiful river that runs alongside the town.]

The village of Auvers remains much the same as when Van Gogh lived there in 1890.  The town was at that time an artist's colony and remains so today.  From the 1850's on, it became an area where some of the greatest artistic talents gathered such as Daubigny, Corot, Pissaro, Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Van Gogh wrote many letter to his younger brother, Theo, and in a letter from May, 1890, he wrote:  "Auvers is beautiful...really, it is seriously beautiful, it is full of character and picturesque countryside".

What is also quite special about Auvers is that it is an outdoor museum.  There is a marked path and hiking trail around the village which commemorates many of the places where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous masterpieces.  It is fascinating to follow the path and come across a vista where you can imagine the artist sitting on a chair with his easel and painting the lovely views with his signature heavy-brushstroke style.


You probably recognize the famous painting by Van Gogh, "L'Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assumption".  However, you may not know that it was painted in Auvers, and that it took Van Gogh only two days to complete!  This painting today hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris.  

The next photo I took of the actual church in Auvers as it stands today.  The church has undergone an extensive renovation which was completed in 2016.  Apparently, it was in danger of collapsing and the necessary funds were raised to save the structure.
A visit to Auvers from Paris After climbing the path to the top of the hill, it was inspiring for me to see the church for the first time.  I suppose I was just a bit surprised that the church actually existed and was not something created out of Van Gogh's imagination.

The hiking path continues on along the road where the cemetery is located and visitors can stop to see where Van Gogh and his brother are buried.

After passing through cornfields and wheat fields, the path loops around through a forested area.  Before descending back down into the village, the trail passes through some peaceful lanes lined with trees and stone cottages.

Besides the hiking trail around the village, visitors to Auvers also have the chance to see the room where Van Gogh lived and died.  The room, which is now a historic monument, is located on the second floor of an Auberge, or Inn.  The tour of his room is quite interesting and the museum staff describe Van Gogh's living situation and interesting information about the circumstances surrounding his death.  Some of this information was completely new to me, even after just recently visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  

Another interesting note is that below Van Gogh's room is the restaurant where he ate his meals.  This restaurant is still open today and is quite good!

On each of the times I have visited Auvers, I have been surprised at how few other visitors I encounter.  There are some tourists walking around, but mostly I have had the hiking trail to myself.  This has been quite a bonus because without vast numbers of visitors, Auvers has been able to maintain a peaceful quality.

It seems one of the reasons Auvers is quiet is because travelers can't reach the town via a direct train from Paris.  It is necessary to change trains and the schedules can be confusing.  Yet, in this case, the extra effort is completely worthwhile!

And, as you might have guessed, if you are joining me on my "Walking Paris in 7 Days" trip in May, 2020, I will be taking my guests to Auvers-Sur-Oise.  On this trip, we will be learning more about Van Gogh and the interesting story of his life and death.  So, please contact me if you are interested in experiencing this fascinating glimpse into the world of Vincent Van Gogh.

For more from Laura Keefe Junod, see her website: https://voyagescholar.com/

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