CORONA CLOSES VINCENT VAN GOGH’S ROOM IN AUVERS-SUR-OISE …

It is always a pleasure for me to visit the town of Auvers-sur-Oise. Auvers-sur-Oise is of course where Vincent van Gogh spent the last two months of his life, and where he died and lies buried. I, an admirer of Vincent – not only of his paintings but so too of the man – go […]

Vincent van Gogh’s grave

It is always a pleasure for me to visit the town of Auvers-sur-Oise.

Auvers-sur-Oise is of course where Vincent van Gogh spent the last two months of his life, and where he died and lies buried.

A street in Auvers-sur-Oise showing the way and distance to the town of Zundert in The Netherlands where Vincent was born

I, an admirer of Vincent – not only of his paintings but so too of the man – go to Auvers (shall I just call the town Auvers from now on to give me fewer words to type and you fewer words to read) several times each year. This is something I’ve been doing for years.

Auvers-sur-Oise: the river Oise. Perfect for relaxing

My latest visit was on Wednesday, August 26, this year (2020). It was going to be my ‘summer’ visit, sunflowers in full bloom everywhere, and the wheat fields green, and the corn ripe and ready for picking and eating.

However, it was a rather sad Auvers I found.

France in a drought, the wheat fields were not green and the corn had dried out.

Dry wheat fields
Dry corn
Sunflowers dried out

Also there was only a scattering of visitors in the town, and all of them were French.

The town’s four eating places were open, but there were hardly anyone sitting at its tables.

I did sit down at one and had a coffee.

Le Balto in Auvers: very nice to sit out on its terrace.
A coffee at Le Balto

The town’s few shops, all of them tiny art galleries, were closed.

And – as I was to find, Vincent’s room in the Ravoux Inn, there where he had stayed and died, and which is normally the town’s main (even only attraction) too was closed.  A notice explained that a visit to the room was not possible due to Covid-19.

I must say that the Ravoux Inn Restaurant too was closed.  The wealthiest of visitors to the town always stop for a meal at the restaurant where a table is marked as the one where Vincent always sat for his meals.   He had full board at the inn – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and in his time the restaurant was a working-man’s eating place, its dishes mainly stews with boiled potatoes and lots of baguette bread, and within the budget of the inn’s boarders, not one of them wealthy. Today, the restaurant is very very expensive, a bottle of choice red wine with a shiny crystal glass set out on a table outside on the pavement.

Vincent arrived at the inn on Tuesday, May 20, 1890 and died there on Tuesday, July 29, 1890.

In other words, Vincent had stayed in Auvers for 71 days.  

He was buried on Wednesday, March 30. In other words, the day after his death.

One can of course go to Vincent’s grave in Auvers’ cemetery, there where his brother Theo lies with him, as in France a cemetery is never locked.

Vincent and Theo lying side by side

There is no bus from the town to the cemetery.  So, if one has no transport (I do not) one has to walk. The walk will take about 20 minutes at a leisurely pace, and one can either walk along the tarred road that runs from the town to the cemetery, or one can amble through the wheat fields made famous because of Vincent’s paintings.

The cemetery

I have often walked alone from the town to the cemetery, and I am still here to write this, so I would say, if you are female and you have to make that walk on your own, you will be quite safe.

Getting from Paris to Auvers (I will now give the full name – Auvers-sur-Oise) – one has to take a train from Paris’s Gare du Nord railway station.

Gare du Nord can be quite confusing, so know that the train to Auvers-sur-Oise runs from the station’s Sector H.   You will have the choice of taking a train that goes either via the town of Persan Beaumont or via the town of Pontoise.   Your choice will depend on how much time you have or how adventurous you are.   At both those towns you would have to take a local train to Auvers-sur-Oise.   Or you can always check buses running from the station to Auvers-sur-Oise.

Public transport in France falls into zones.  There are 5 of them, and Auvers-sur-Oise falls in Zone 5.

Well, enjoy your visit to Auvers-sur-Oise.

If you have the choice, do go there only after Covid-19!

The cemetery behind the wheat fields
Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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