Those who know me are aware of my slight obsession with Vincent Van Gogh, and how I regularly have moments where I live and breathe Van Gogh and then I resume my usual life until the next time. This tends to happen often with things or artists I feel very passionate about.
On my birthday last year, I was gifted with the Vincent Van Gogh Atlas and have decided to follow as much as I can of it if time and money are letting me.
The book is a faithful guide to the places where Vincent has lived during his lifetime and it’s incredibly interesting.
The first step I’ve taken to follow his path was last year during a visit to France. It was easy enough to find Theo’s old flat in Rue Lepic and it felt so lovely to start the quest this way, in my hometown.
Then, my parents decided to join me and we went to the lovely town of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent the last months of his life.
Auvers is in the northwestern suburb of Paris and is only 28km away from the big city. It was great for Vincent because it had all the countryside charm he was after whilst still being close to Paris and Theo.
We had booked a table at the “Auberge Ravoux” which is now named “Maison de Van Gogh”. This is where Vincent was living, he had a little single room and paid 3.50 francs a night for food and shelter.
Auvers had it all as I said, there is literally a walk through of the paintings he did there when you about through the town. From the Jardin d’Aubigny quite close to the Ravoux Inn, to the house of his friend and fellow artist Dr. Gachet (Vincent spent numerous times at his house and painted the Dr and his daughter too). Vincent stayed often in the garden to paint it and the fantastic view of the town.
Just before lunch; we made our way to the famous church of Auvers and further up the cemetary to see the graves. The cemetary is just opposite some wheat fields and you can feel Van Gogh’s vision everywhere you go.
The visit was very moving for me and I shared some tears with a fellow Van Gogh lover from Germany who comes here every year to “spend some time with Vincent and Theo”. He told us there is a family of lizards that have made their home next to the graves, like little guardians.
The auberge has been kept remarquably well and you can really imagine how it was at Vincent’s time. There is possibility to visit the room Vincent died in and the room of another dutch painter next to his, and you’ll be shown a film about his time in Auvers in an attic next to the rooms. I found all this very moving and felt a bit distressed. It is forbidden to take pictures of Vincent’s room so I can’t show you but you can find it on their website. It was very small with just one window, under the roof, and the wall was covered with little holes which is where Vincent would hang is drawings or paintings to dry.
The food in the Inn is very good and very french traditional, however I did think it was quite overpriced for what it was, and really you pay for the whole Van Gogh experience etc… I took comfort in thinking that our money is going to a good cause, to restore the place and room where Vincent lived and keep his memory, but yes…a bit pricey !
Overall It was a fantastic day and we came back home full of memories and very moved personally.
I am planning a trip to Amsterdam hopefully at some point this year, so I shall join you again for Part 2 of my quest…