Saturday, August 14, 2010

Auvers Sur Oise

Auvers Sur Oise is a small village about 35 km northwest of Paris. It is where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life.

Sandi and I visited this beautiful town today.

We took the Métro to the Gare du Nord, a very busy and confusing train station. We took a train from there to Auvers Sur Oise. Here's our train waiting for us at Track 21.

One of the first things we saw when we got off the train was the park dedicated to Van Gogh. It wasn't much of a park, but it did have this neat statue of the artist created by sculptor Ossip Zadkine.

We decided our first stop should be the Auberge Ravoux, the place where Van Gogh spent his last days. The inn has been lovingly restored and (for a price, of course) you can see the room where Van Gogh died.

There was an interesting and informative display in the courtyard.

And this great wine bottle sculpture. Sandi and I could have made one of these with all the wine bottles we've emptied over the past three weeks.

Then we went inside and climbed the gloomy stairs. The lady at the door told us that the inn is a protected historical monument - and that included the rooms, the stairs, and all the cracks in the walls.

Oh, it was so very sad to see this little tiny room. The despair was almost palpable. On July 29, 1890, Van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, but it took him a couple of days to die. He was a tortured soul who suffered from depression and epilepsy. During his life he only sold one painting (except for those his brother Théo bought) but he wanted more than anything to be a famous artist. "I hope I can have my own exhibition one day in a café," he wrote in a letter to his brother Théo.

The room next door was inhabited by a Dutch painter who found him and summoned both Théo and his friend Dr. Gachet who were with him when he died.

After our visit to the inn, we found that the sun had come out (finally) and so we went on a walk.

We visited the church, Notre-Dame d'Auvers.

Van Gogh's painting of this church, L'Église d'Auvers-sur-Oise, hangs in the D'Orsay Museum in Paris. There are, actually, no original Van Gogh paintings in Auvers Sur Oise.

We also walked up to the cemetery where both Vincent and Théo are buried. They died within six months of each other. We passed this wheatfield, which may have been the inspiration for Van Gogh's very last painting.

All that walking made us hungry and it was past lunchtime, so we returned to the Auberge Ravoux for a hearty French country meal.

I had the Paté for an appetizer, but they served up enough for about 20 people. I don't know if I was actually expected to eat it all.

Then a lamb stew. It was delicious.

I forgot to take a picture of dessert, which was Tarte aux Tatin, a very thick apple cake with heavy whipped cream. It's nearly 10 pm and I'm still stuffed from lunch.

Across from the Auberge Ravoux is the Hôtel de Ville, or city hall.

Here's Van Gogh's rendition:

While we were in Auvers Sur Oise, we also went to the Daubigny museum, which (in addition to paintings by post-Impressionist Charles-François Daubigny and his son Karl) had an exhibition of paintings by Ferdinand Quignon, which I very much enjoyed. The girl working there was so nice, too - a pleasant change from the usual surly reception we get.

When it was time to go home, we made our way back to the train station and were pleased to discover there was an earlier train. While I loved Auvers Sur Oise, there really isn't enough there to fill an 8-hour day.

In the tunnel between the two platforms, there is some art of a different kind. I had read about the murals at the train station, but I was expecting something a bit more... professional.

I also entertained myself by taking some artsy train-track pictures to add to my black-and-white collection.

I hope you enjoyed our outing to Auvers Sur Oise today.

Jusqu'à demain...


Dogwood said...

Rachel~I am loving traveling around with you on your Paris trip. I especially loved today's adventures! Great and fun. Dogwood

Patty said...

Enjoy see Paris and surrounding areas through your eyes. I've always admired Vincent(the art, yes he was a tragic soul. Seeing where he died is rather depressing, what a tragic waste.
It's also amazing to see what meals are like in France.

Barb said...

I am so enjoying traveling with you.....

Pat said...

What fun to see the inspiration for some of his paintings. So sad that he was so depressed and lonely that he ended his own life and never lived to see his artwork become famous.

Vesuviusmama said...

What a neat trip! And how sad, the life of Van Gogh, and of many artists, actually. Why can't we appreciate people while they are still with us?

PunkiePie said...

I sure did! Thanks for sharing!

Thimbleanna said...

Beautiful pictures Rachel! It looks like you had another fantastic day. Thanks for sharing all the info, once again!

Quilting Lab said...

Ah, Van Gogh is a favorite of mine! You were walking in such interesting (but tragic) footsteps!