World In Paris
Best day trips from Paris

Van Gogh and the church at Auvers

It is true that there are lots of interesting things to do in Paris. But Paris also makes for a great base to explore its surroundings, with efficient public transportation and some really nice places to see. Today we are visiting Auvers, following Van Gogh’s steps. Located 35 km North of Paris, Auvers (Auvers-sur-Oise) is a cute village in the French countryside with some interesting things to see and do. It is also very easy to reach by public transportation which makes Auvers one of the best day trips from Paris.

This beautiful and peaceful village attired by the end of the XIXth century many artists, especially the Impressionists. People like Cézanne, Pissarro, Sisley, or Monet lived or frequented Auvers-sur-Oise and painted the village on some of their masterworks. That’s why Auvers-sur-Oise is called “the Impressionists’ village”. 

Related:  Provins Medieval Town : an easy day trip from Paris

 

VAN GOGH AND THE CHURCH AT AUVERS

But most of all Auvers village will be always related to Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh discovered the village by the end of his life and although he lived in Auvers less than two months he painted 70 works, most of them related to the village and its landscapes.

Maybe his most famous painting in Auvers village is “The Church at Auvers”. This canvas was painted in June 1890 and now it hangs at Musée d’Orsay. The model was the cute Gothic church (XII-XIII century)  located at Place de l’Eglise. This is how Van Gogh described the church and his work in a letter sent to his sister on 5th June 1890:

I have a larger picture of the village church — an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue colour, pure cobalt; the stained-glass windows appear as ultramarine blotches, the roof is violet and partly orange. In the foreground some green plants in bloom, and sand with the pink flow of sunshine in it. And once again it is nearly the same thing as the studies I did in Nuenen of the old tower and the cemetery, only it is probably that now the colour is more expressive, more sumptuous.

the church at Auvers

On 27 July 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a  revolver. There were no witnesses and Van Gogh managed to go back to his hostel room where he died 30 hours after the incident.

The painters’ community learnt about Van Gogh’s death with sadness. Theo Van Gogh, Vincent’s brother, wanted to organize the funeral in the church at Auvers, so dear to Vincent. However, the priest refused categorically: Van Gogh was protestant plus he committed suicide! In the end Theo had to modify the funeral invitations manually. Vincent Van Gogh rests forever, together with his brother, in the town cemetery not far from the church.

Van Gogh's tomb at Auvers

 

VAN GOGH AND DR GACHET

Dr Paul Gachet, a French physician, treated Vincent Van Gogh during his last weeks in Auvers. Gachet was also an amateur painter and had treated several other artists in the past. Van Gogh’s first impression was that Gachet was “iller than I am, it seemed to me, or let’s say just as much”. However Van Gogh enjoyed Gachet’s company and soon they became friends. It was common to see Van Gogh at Dr Gachet’s house and he painted some portraits for Gachet himself and his family. Van Gogh also painted Dr Gachet’s house and its beautiful garden, full of colorful flowers and medicinal plants. Dr Gachet’s house is today a nice museum (free entrance) which houses small art exhibitions. The garden is still the most beautiful part of the house and it is great to seat on a bench, have a rest and admire its landscape.

Van Gogh paintings in Auvers

Van Gogh paintings in Auvers

 

OTHER VAN GOGH PAINTINGS IN AUVERS 

Despite his fragile health, Van Gogh left a rich collection of canvas in Auvers village.  Today we can still see Auvers through Van Gogh’s eyes thanks to his paintings. First he was captivated by the fields in May, when the wheat was young and green (Wheatfields with crows). Also, he painted Auvers’ Town Hall, which he could see from his window.

Van Gogh paintings in Auvers

 

OTHER INTERESTING SIGHTS IN AUVERS 

 

THE PAINTER’S PATHWAY

The Painters’ Pathway is a DIY walk (actually it’s two DIY walks, red and green) linking a number of views which figured in the paintings of  these Impressionist artists. The local Tourism Office installed on each exact spot a plaque with the painting reproduction so you can compare the real view to its artistic representation. As you can see on the pictures, some spots have not changed that much in the last century. To go back to the town centre you can walk along Oise river, it’s a nice and shady walk.

 

AUVERGE RAVOUX

Auverge Ravoux is the small inn where Vincent stayed at while in Auvers-Sur-Oise in 1890. It was in his room in this inn where Van Gogh died from a gunshot. After Van Gogh ‘s death the owners emptied the room and never rented it again. Today Auverge Ravoux works as a restaurant but the owners still preserve Van Gogh’s empty room, which can be visited for 6€. If you check their website, they don’t talk about tourists but pilgrims who come from all the world to that room to feel the painter’s spirit.

 

ABSINTHE MUSEUM

This quirky museum was born thanks to its founder’s curiosity, when she found a “strange spoon” in a flea market. Since that moment she started collecting everything related to this mythical drink, also known as “fée verte” (green fairy). The collection allows visitors to understand the absinthe’s importance in the social and cultural life in the XIX th century (some of the Impressionist artists drank a lot of it). The down side of this fascinating museum is the owner herself. Inside the museum  pictures are strictly forbidden and I remember the owner following us everywhere to be sure we did not take any!

TROGLODYTE HOUSES

Difficult to believe, but Auvers-sur-Oise has also troglodyte houses! Built on a hillside, the village of Auvers account numerous cave dwellings. Their development is related to the exploitation of  stone quarries in the area until the late nineteenth century. Entire families of workers on construction sites used these large openings in the stones to live. Dr Gachet’s house had one of these house caves in his garden. He used it as studio where he also received other painters.

 


WHERE TO SLEEP IN AUVERS-SUR-OISE

With so many things to see and do you may think that one day is not enough to enjoy Auvers’s quiet and relaxing atmosphere and maybe you are right. Auvers does not have a big choice of accommodation but there are a couple of cute hotels or pensions for a reasonable price, especially if you book in advance:

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PENICHE DAPHNE – MID RANGE HOTEL (100-150€ PER NIGHT)Auvers-sur-Oise accommodation

Never thought about sleeping on a boat? This péniche located on the banks of Oise river in Auvers is very appreciated by couples. It has all the facilities that you need plus a deck-terrace to enjoy your breakfast or a glass of champagne

Check the hotel’s latest offers


 CHEZ ANGELINA – BUDGET HOTEL (50-100€ PER NIGHT)Auvers-sur-Oise accommodation

Lovely old cottage atmosphere located at Auvers’ historic centre, with a very friendly host. Chez Angelina is the perfect base for navigating the village and it is especially loved by couples.

Check the hotel’s latest offers


Auvers-sur-Oise accommodation

AU TRIANON D’AUVERS – BUDGET HOTEL (50-100€ PER NIGHT)

Lovely country side hotel with a beautiful ancient decoration and lots of books everywhere. The hotel is not right in the center but they compensate it with a beautiful garden and bicycles to use for free.

Check the hotel’s latest offers


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HOW TO REACH AUVERS-SUR-OISE FROM PARIS

Auvers-sur-Oise is very easy to reach by train. From April to end October, on weekends or holidays, there is a direct train leaving from Paris Gare du Nord to Auvers Train Station which takes only 35 minutes. Out of these dates or on weekdays, take train Transilien H from Gare du Nord to Pontoise and then take another Transilien H from Pontoise to Auvers (45 minutes journey in total). Train ticket costs 5.95€ (one way). If you have the Navigo card 5 zones you don’t need to pay anything else. You can check the trains’ schedules and all the transportation options here

 


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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Nathan
    08/04/2017 at 9:27 am

    What a great idea for a day trip! I would love to do this. I think to see this in person would be amazing. I’ve seen several Dali’s in person- I love those1

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/04/2017 at 3:00 pm

      Great that you loved the post. Auvers is a great proposal to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris for one day or two 🙂

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    08/04/2017 at 3:46 am

    What a fascinating story and visit. Thanks for sharing the story of Van Gogh and the connection of his art to the town. Loved it and learned a lot!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/04/2017 at 3:00 pm

      Cool that you enjoyed the story. Thanks for your virtual visit to Auvers 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    08/03/2017 at 4:49 am

    Auvers is definitely a village I would like to head to whenever I am in Paris. The picturesque village has captured my imagination and no wonder the impressionists made a beeline for it. I was fascinated by the life of Van Gogh and it is so sad he left the world at the young age of 37. Imagine what works he would have produced if he had lived longer.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/03/2017 at 6:36 am

      Yes, it was a sad loss! A pity that Auvers’ quiet life could not heal his soul 🙁

  • Reply
    Elena Nemets
    08/02/2017 at 9:01 pm

    Such a beautiful place – no wonder people create great paintings there. We have been to Giverny, where Claude Monet lived, but did not know about this place earlier.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/02/2017 at 10:26 pm

      Maybe you can add it to your list for your next visit to Paris, it is really an easy trip from the city 🙂

  • Reply
    Corinne
    08/01/2017 at 9:15 am

    Oh, how I love a good art museum and yes, especially Van Gogh. I am absolutely writing down where to do this next time I visit Paris.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2017 at 1:34 pm

      Cool that you liked the proposal, Corinne. However Auvers is not about art museums, it’s about the scenarios used by some artists (like Van Gogh) for their paintings . . .

  • Reply
    Carol Colborn
    07/31/2017 at 9:24 pm

    Wow, just 35 minutes by train from Paris. This is a must-see town for me!

  • Reply
    Nic
    07/31/2017 at 12:40 pm

    Wow, what a lovely little place with such history. I’ve seen some of his work in the galleries but it would be amazing to see the places that inspired him so much too.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/31/2017 at 1:23 pm

      I am sure you would like to see the church at Auvers, it is a very lovely site 🙂

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    07/30/2017 at 3:43 pm

    This is wonderful. I love Van Gogh but I know very little about him except for his suicide and of course the ear cutting incident. Some day I will have to go to France to see a Van Gogh original.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/31/2017 at 1:22 pm

      You have some Van Goghs at Orsay Museum but especially at Van Gogh’s Museum in Amsterdam 😉

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    07/30/2017 at 11:02 am

    We visited Arles in Provence for the Van Gogh connection and also Sr.Remy where he spent considerable time during his later days. Such a talented artist…I love his work. Didn’t know about Auvers, so its great to read this post.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/31/2017 at 1:21 pm

      Van Gogh did not spend much time in Auvers, maybe that’s why you you had not heard about it before. However the town must have been very inspiring for Van Gogh because he was incredibly creative there

  • Reply
    Beth Jarrett
    07/29/2017 at 2:22 pm

    What an amazing day trip! I never knew something like this existed! When I finally get to Paris, I think I will have to follow in your footsteps.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/29/2017 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Beth! Hope you will find your way to Paris soon. But I warn you: if you want to follow my footsteps I walk A LOT and fast! 😉

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