70 days, 78 artworks: Vincent Van Gogh smashed every record going for artistic creativity, despite his last days being such a dark time in Auvers Sur Oise.
The pretty Vexin village was undoubtedly a source of inspiration and drive for the artist, among many others. Dive into the idyllic countryside and chaotic last days of the Impressionist painter’s life on a trip to Auvers-sur-Oise. Prepare for a moving and fascinating change of scene on a day trip 1 hour from Paris.
Vexin’s landscapes: reinvigorating and inspiring
Auvers-sur-Oise is a pretty village deep in the Vexin Regional Nature Park and its sprawling colourful fields. The Oise, a tributary of the Seine, runs through the countryside and is a breath of fresh air for ramblers exploring its footpaths. Feast your eyes on lanes lined with townhouses, limestone farmhouses, manors and thatched cottages amongst wheat fields and wide-open spaces bursting with flowers. This setting inspired Van Gogh among many other Impressionist and landscape artists, including Pissarro, Daubigny and Gauguin, who came here to unwind and reconnect with nature to get their creative juices flowing.
“There is much well-being in the air. I see or think I see in it a quiet like that of Puvis de Chavannes, no factories, but lovely greenery in abundance and well-kept.”
(Letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, 25 May 1890)
If you’ve already joined our guide in Fontainebleau, you’ll remember the artist’s village of Barbizon and its school of painters. Well, many of them were part of the Impressionist movement and also spent time in Auvers-sur-Oise, painting the Vexin landscapes on their canvases.
Doctor Gachet and his house
Another thing that these artists all shared was a connection to Dr Gachet, a painter, art collector and homeopathic doctor. He became friends with Impressionist and Cubist artists including Pissarro and Gauguin. Van Gogh was so taken with him that he painted a portrait of the doctor and depicted the medical practitioner’s pretty house in several of his pieces.
Dr Gachet rushed to Auberge Ravoux on the day the artist took his life.
Château d’Auvers sur Oise
The Château d’Auvers sur Oise is a fantastic 17th century mansion built by a powerful Italian businessman with close ties with Marie de’ Medici. As you explore its classical architecture and terraced gardens, soak up an immersive sensory experience introducing you to Impressionism and how it influenced art. The perfect way to get your head around the movement’s techniques and background, so beautifully captured by Van Gogh. The Dutch artist immortalised the Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise in a piece entitled Le château d’Auvers au coucher du soleil.
Visitors can enjoy a lovely walk around the grounds leading to a nymphaeum, a fascinating round artificial grotto lit from the top and decorated with shells.
Step into Auberge Ravoux and enter Van Gogh’s “final home”
Theo Van Gogh spoke fondly of this slice of peaceful countryside so Vincent followed his brother’s advice and holed up in Auvers sur Oise. After years battling his soul and art, Vincent Van Gogh spent the last few weeks of his life at Auberge Ravoux. The artist boarded in a little 7m2 attic room in May 1890 where he painted non-stop and churned out nearly 80 pieces. He was a creature of habit at the inn and always sat in the same place for his meals… until that day in July 1890. In the middle of the wheat field around the village, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest and dragged himself to his room where he died the next day, on July 29th 1890.
Ride a wave of emotion as you explore the site peppered with everyday items, copies of paintings and letters he wrote to his brother.
One of his final pieces captures the scene that his work and life will forever be remembered for: Champ de blé aux corbeaux.
Auvers sur Oise Church and Cemetery
Van Gogh’s final pieces had a recurring theme: the church in Auvers sur Oise. The artist made it world-famous with his painting named after the church!
Vincent and Theodorus Van Gogh’s tombs lie in the cemetery north of the church. The brothers died within months of each other and were buried side by side. Ivy from Dr Gachet’s garden covers and unites both graves in peace and serenity with simple gravestones bearing their names.
Vincent Van Gogh isn’t the only artist to be buried in this humble graveyard. Fellow residents include Emilio Boggio, a post-Impressionist artist, Léonide Bourges, a painter and student of Daubigny, and Charles Sprague Pearce, an American painter and student of Bonnat.
A trip to Auvers-sur-Oise is a trip back in time in the footsteps of Van Gogh. The fascinating and unforgettable tour explores the Dutch painter’s last days and seeps you in the colourful countryside scenery that inspired countless artists. A place to live, a place to die, a place to create, a place to go wild, Auvers sur Oise and its idyllic rural landscapes introduce you to another world of art and culture within an hour of Paris!
Join Van Gogh in his final days with Vacances Actives Linguistiques in the French Vexin area: we can’t wait to see you!