Day Trip To Auvers-sur-Oise, An Eternal Village

Auberge Ravoux/Maison de Van Gogh

Auberge Ravoux/Maison de Van Gogh. The painting of the town hall was done from the upper front right window.

Auvers-sur-Oise will  be forever known because of the painter, Vincent Van Gogh. It is the final resting place of Van Gogh and was also a favorite village for other painters of the 1800s. In the last 70 days of his life Van Gogh painted 70 paintings in and around Auvers-sur-Oise. He lived here to be near his brother Theo, who lived in Paris. By direct train, the voyage from Paris takes less than 35 minutes.

Auvers-sur-Oise (Auvers on the river Oise) lies within a provincial area once known as Vexin français. Because of its inclusion within the Parc naturel régional du Vexin français since 1995, Auvers-sur-Oise is eternal. According to the charter of the 46 natural parks, the village cannot be altered and will not grow beyond its limits. (Use Google translate)

The photos you take today will look the same in the future. That thought is represented in the reproductions of various paintings along a walking tour of buildings that have not changed noticeably since the 1800s.

Films to see
My initial knowledge of Auvers-sur-Oise and the imprint of Vincent Van Gogh on the village and its future had its limits. Films with different themes are a quick way to learn. Three places provide background on the area and its history: The Office of Tourism, (make this your first stop before starting your walk-Rue de la Sansonne Manoir des Colombières)The Chateau d’Auvers , and the Auberge Ravoux/Maison de Van Gogh. More museums and activities on the tourist office “Culture and heritage” page, including addresss.

Tours – guided, on your own – walking 
An active way to learn about the history is the guided tour. Anne Claire Saintier-Bekkers is the great guide for my visit. We stop along the route of the painters and she gives anecdotes about each painting, the scene and information from Van Gogh’s life at the time.
Her tour is “Sur les pas de Van Gogh” (In the steps of Van Gogh). Between the first Sunday in April and the last of October, the French tour meets at the Office of Tourism at 3 p.m. and costs 5.50 euros per person. The tour lasts one to one-and-a-half hours. Every one is welcome to follow along. (For tours in other languages, contact the tourist office. They have a set price for 1 to 30 people.)

Anne Claire Saintier-Bekkers tour guide Auver-sur-Oise

Anne Claire Saintier-Bekkers tour guide Auver-sur-Oise sharing anecdotes about Vincent Van Gogh ©C. Shaughnessy-Larsson

If you do not want to be part of an English-speaking tour, you have the information on line. Walks and maps are laid out for you on the village website. Look under the heading “Culture and Heritage” (Walk through Auvers).  (Their website is under construction – 2015)

  • Auvers step-by-step (Chaponval et le Valhermeil)
  • The painter’s houses (Maisons de peintres) and
  • The walk from the tourist office to the cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother, Theo, are buried and to the Church (Promenade autour de l’église et du cimetière).

A couple of things to do and see
The Auberge Ravoux shows a well-done 12 minute film using postcards that show Van Gogh’s paintings of surrounding areas and also how little the village has changed and . Excerpts from letters to Theo and Wilhelmine van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are the commentary to the film in French, English and Japanese. For current opening times and rates visit THE AUBERGE RAVOUX known as THE HOUSE OF VAN GOGH website

At the Auberge Ravoux, you visit two rooms upstairs. The one is partially furnished, the other is Mr. Van Gogh’s room number 5; it contains only a chair. He never painted in this room and it was never rented out again. Van Gogh lived and died at the Auberge Ravoux between May 20, 1890 and July 29, 1890. Preserved for a century, the room was classified as an historic monument in 1985.

In the Maison-Atelier de Daubigny, the panels contain painted fairy tales in his daughter’s room, one of the original paintings seen in a framed painting is his wife sewing; Daubigny’s son Karl, C. Corot, H. Daumier, and Oudinot’s scenery paintings cover the walls.

Daubigny is known for being the first artist to reside in Auvers. He painted many scenes from a boat. The models of the two boats, “Botin”, the first one; and “Bottin”, the second are on display. The sails on the second are sewn with fabric from one of the parachutes that landed in Sainte-Mere-Église, the first French village liberated on June 6, 1944.

Walking on the narrow roads, accordion music is playing, the bird song blends with the scent of the flowers. Walking into the church a woman is playing her guitar in one of the wood chairs and humming and then singing, practicing.

These beautiful sounds are broken by the sound of the airplanes overhead. Why? Every Sunday the charter flights are coming and going at the same time.

Then as suddenly as they began, the noise disappears and tranquility is back.

It is hard to do everything in one day.  Everything is a “must do” or else you must return.

Museum passes-ask about the museum pass at the tourist office: Pass’4 unite, Pass’5 unite, Pass’8 unité.
The current passes are valid until December 31, 2012. Anyone can use your pass and for the concert festivals (e.g., jazz festival), which are buy one ticket, get one free using the pass.

Auvers-sur-Oise Activities – dates, times and locations
Festivals in Ile-de-France (includes Paris, Auvers-sur-Oise and surrounding areas)

Annual Festivals in Auvers-sur-Oise
Painters Festival (Fête des peintres)
Night at the museums
Absinthe festival
Iris Festival
International Music Festival
Cruise on the Oise River
A cruise down the River Oise starting in Auvers-sur-Oise departs at 3:30 p.m. and returns at 5 p.m. The commentary is in English and you are advised to reserve. Call the tourist office at 01 30 36 10 06.
Journées du Patrimoine/Heritage Days in September
The guided tour “In the footsteps of Van Gogh”  will be available in English at a special price of one euro. Reserve with the tourist office at 01 30 36 10 06.

Two guided tours in English
Nature walk
A 2 and a half hour to 3 hour “Nature Walk in Auvers-sur-Oise” will cost 8 euros. Special walks in English and French are available April 10, May 1, August 28 and October 2 at 3 p.m. Reservations are necessary. Call Amandine at 06 10 89 15 90.

Travel between Paris and Auvers-sur-Oise

Other practical information once in Auvers-sur-Oise

  • Exit station (SNCF personnel can direct you, if their ticket office is open)
  • Bank and grocery (closes 1:45 p.m. on Sunday) are next to station
  • Highly recommended for eating on the go! Boulangerie – sandwich menu with dessert and drink=5.60 euros (beverage is beer, water or sodas), located across from the park – Cécile and Franck Vanhauwe (open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed Wednesday)
  • Toilettes – Van Gogh park behind market in the back corner; Tourist office; Auberge Ravoux
  • Video at tourist office one euro adult .50 children 12 minutes French or English – good introduction

Bed and Breakfasts in Auvers-sur-Oise

Auvers-sur-Oise Tourist office
Manoir des Colombières (also the Musée Daubigny)
rue de la Sansonne – 95430 Auvers-sur-Oise
Telephone: 01 30 36 10 06 – Fax. 01 34 48 08 47

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