Auvers-sur-Oise in Picardy, northern France, needs little introduction as the last place that Vincent van Gogh lived and painted in 1890, during the last seventy days of his life. Located northwest of Paris; a mere 30 minute train ride to this quaint, picturesque artists’ village, it is here – that if only for a brief moment, one can glimpse what stirred Vincent van Gogh’s artistic vision and inspiration.
On a beautiful crisp autumn day, we traveled to this cherished place, so famed and admired by visitors, artists and travelers from around the world. This storybook hamlet sits along the banks of the Oise River, where charming buildings look much the same as when Vincent van Gogh lived there, more than 125 years ago now.
We arrived when the leaves were turning from yellow to golden-brown, with the warm and glistened sunshine peeking through the tree branches. Auvers-sur-Oise was oddly quiet, most tourists and summer retreat artists had gone home. We walked around this tiny village on foot – exploring and following the bronze “Vincent” plaques inlaid in the sidewalk and along the narrow road. Leading us past Van Gogh’s treasured and prized landscapes, where he created a prolific number of paintings.
We wind uphill on a country lane, until we reach flat farm ground, just over the horizon. There lay open fields, now harvested, with rich, thick dark soil, just turned-under for the upcoming winter season. The very same fields Vincent van Gogh painted in 1890 – where he transformed these captivating scenes onto canvases, giving his vision vibrant life with brilliant zinc yellow, vermillion, green and cobalt blue, capturing the essence of earthiness.
We reach the cemetery where Vincent van Gogh rests, and where his brother, Theo, joined him – side-by-side in eternity. We know through hundreds of letters exchanged between the two brothers, both maintained a close relationship and confided in one-another. Those historical letters allow us a window into Vincent van Gogh’s colorful and troubled life. Here, in the quiet and peacefulness of Auvers-sur-Oise, you can walk in the final footsteps of Vincent van Gogh. Visiting places where he drew inspiration for his greatest works of art and where he found a semblance of home.
Traveling to Auvers-sur-Oise
Trains to Auvers-sur-Oise depart from Paris Gare du Nord and Gare St. Lazare.
Maison de Van Gogh: Auberge Ravoux – the last place where van Gogh lived, and where he died. You can see the tiny room he occupied and eat a classic French meal at the lovely restaurant downstairs.
Fans of the great artist will love the trailer for the film Loving Vincent, created by 20 artists, a real work of art:
J.Christina is the blogger behind www.scribblesandsmiles.net. Blogging from the Midwest, J. Christina, and her husband, Mr. Christie, share their European trips so others can travel vicariously through their scribbles and images.