You may recall how excited I was knowing I would visit the village of
Auvers-sur-Oise and the Auberge Ravoux, Vincent van Gogh's last 'home' for
three months prior to his death. I did a brief post earlier whilst still in France,
and am following up today with a few more photos and more
of the sad story of an amazing artist who died far too early.
Bob, outside the inn on a beautiful early October morning.
I so wish we could have eaten lunch there that day - however the
guided tour was structured so that we could take in other
important sites pertinent to Van Gogh's stay in this charming village.
Later in the afternoon we were heading to Versailles, then our ship
was returning to Paris in the evening. . . . .an extremely busy day.
Note how the facade of the Auberge Ravoux still appears exactly as it did
in the year Van Gogh lived there - only the trees on the sidewalk seem
to be missing.
I climbed the small wooden staircase to where, in the attic of the auberge,
a single skylight lets a few rays of sunshine into room No. 5 where Vincent
lived and died a couple of days later from his injury.
Out of sheer superstition, this garret, referred to as the "suicide room",
has never been rented out again since 1890.
In this well-preserved site, this tiny empty room, one can relate
to the painter's lifestyle during those last months.
I would truly love to return here, perhaps on a Spring afternoon for luncheon, or
in the cool of an Autumn evening for a French dinner with delicious vegetables
from the market next door, and a full-bodied French red wine.
Dining at the Auberge Ravoux, at a wooden table tucked behind the embroidered
curtains, where Vincent often had his supper, paying not with money which
he never had, but with yet another painting he had done perhaps that same day.
Yes, a return visit is now near the top of my wish list.
I was able to purchase the red and white kitchen towel during this recent visit - shown
here with my much-loved old copy of the cookbook/story/history of the Auberge Ravoux.
Following the visit to the inn, we strolled through the many alleyways of the village,
viewing flower-filled gardens behind old stone walls and iron gates, and the
Auvers village church made famous in Van Gogh's painting.
The local Mairie (town hall) is depicted in a lovely Van Gogh painting,
La Mairie d'Auvers - the building, as in most French villages, not changing at all
over the years.
Later we walked up gentle sloping lanes to the fields above the village.
It was here that Vincent was able to continue painting plein air - his brother Theo
assisting financially so he could purchase the necessary artist's supplies he required.
A copy of the painting displayed above is at the entrance to the wheat field where
Vincent was shot in the abdomen. There are now conflicting reports as to whether it was
an accidental shooting by local boys rather than suicide, though most people believe
it was the latter due to his depressive state of mind over many years, and his final
words on his deathbed. As we walked through the field, the crows were there
as in the painting, flying off as we passed.
Vincent painted many views of the fields around Auvers that July prior to his death,
telling Theo. . . . . .
"Auvers is really gravely beautiful. it's the heart of the countryside, distinctive and picturesque" - May 21, 1890.
Further along we came to the cemetery. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . .where the painting La Pluie - actually titled Landscape at Auvers in the Rain -
was displayed near the entrance gate.
A typical old French grave decorated with ceramic flowers.
Vincent's brother Theo is buried next to him in the Auvers cemetery - he died
the following year, aged 33, just six months after Vincent who was 37.
The headstones are very plain compared to many in this cemetery - covered
in ivy and wildflowers, requiring some pruning, but really quite beautiful
in their simplicity.
Postcards of Van Gogh paintings, including one of several self portraits,
purchased in Auvers-sur-Oise market.
My visit here will always be recalled as time well spent in a very special part
of the French countryside, not far from Paris, colorful, historic and, as always,
full of beauty.
Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes - I really appreciate them.
this morning I decided to work on this post - doing something
I enjoy and sharing another story from the recent trip.
After all it's my BIRTHDAY and I can do what I want, right?