Live as Van Gough, Cézanne, and Pissaro in Auvers sur Oise!
Wander along the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, and see the take in the scenes and atmospheres where these incredible impressionists lived & painted.
Located just north of Paris, Auvers sur Oise was the inspiration to many incredible impressionist (and post-impressionist) figures including Pissaro, Cézanne, and Van Gough. In fact in the three months Van Gough lived in Auvers sur Oise, he painted 77 paintings! Collectively, their paintings are a reflection of the beauty of this town, and are celebrated to this day.
WHEN TO GO:
The direct trains to Auvers sur Oise leave Paris on weekends from April to November. This is the best time to go, as Auvers sur Oise will be in full swing, full of energy, and nice weather (hopefully). I took this day trip in August while the half the city of Paris was on vacation and we had a sunny warm day and could take in all the beautiful greenery. As everything is spread out, I would keep an eye on the weather report, its not worth it going on a bad day.
Attractions: Chateau d'Auvers, Art Trail, Van Gough's room & final resting place
Auvers sur Oise, France
GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND:
Auvers sur Oise is right outside of Paris and takes around 45 minutes to get to on the H line from Gare du Nord. If however you take the Paris–Auvers-sur-Oise train on the weekends (from mid April to beginning of November), you will only have a 35 minute train.
While you are in the beautiful town of Auvers sur Oise, we found it was best to walk around, so bring your sneakers as the ground isn't always even or paved, but it's a great adventure. One of the things you could do is go on a walking art tour which plots out the famous art works by the impressionists (its like a look and find for famous paintings). At each location the art is duplicated in front of the scene where it was painted and it's surreal to see the juxtoposition of the impressionist painting with the original inspiration.
The city is practically a living monument to it's previous impressionist inhabitants. As such, there are plenty of impressionist themed events and museums to experience. Before you do anything, grab a map from the visitors center so you know where you are going. They have maps of the art tour in addition to a map of all the main attractions in the town. Just keep in mind that the Dr. Gachet house and Cemetery are the furthest from the town center so I'd start with one and work your way to the other. If you take the special trains into Paris (the half hour ones) they only have one return at around 6:30 so it is important to plan your time.
Chateau d'Auvers- A beautiful Chateau with a wonderful garden, houses an interactive, intriguing museum on impressionism. This museum takes you through the history of impressionism, its influences and how it was received during the time. I thought it was fun and interesting, but it was full of videos and takes around 2 hours to go through.
Maison Auberge Ravoux- This small restaurant with two rooms above for rent was where Van Gough spent his last months before succumbing to his depression and taking his own life. This place tries to 'preserve' his tiny room, so there is only a bedframe and then a wall that is glassed off. However, they duplicate how it would have been in the other room, but you are forbidden from taking pictures (why, I don't know). After being shown these two tiny depressing rooms you are shown a movie about Van Gough and impressionism and then you are promptly shown out. This place looks nice from the outside but it's not really worth it. You are better off reading all the literature they have about Van Gough in the ivy covered walkway and plaza.
Cemetery Auvers sur Oise- Keeping on the theme of depressing, this cemetery is where Van Gough and his brother Theo are buried, side by side. The cemetery itself is quietly beautiful filled with ivy and plants, however my favorite part was walking outside the cemetery where there are scenes painted in the fields (the picture of me leaning on the post). Walking through these scenes is like walking through a painting and I absolutely loved the experience.
Musée Daubigny- Right next to the tourism office is a cute, two story museum and former home of the artist Charles-François Daubigny, it showcases many beautiful paintings and techniques of the painters of the time.
Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption d'Auvers-sur-Oise- A smaller church made famous by Van Gough, this is a beautiful little church due to its architecture.
Absinthe Museum- I was looking forward to this museum, however when I got there and saw how tiny it was and that there were no free tastings of absinthe, I was immediately turned off and refused to pay the 5 euros to get in. It looked nice from the outside though, and fortunately for us we found out from other people on the train that it was a huge waste of money as they only spent 5 minutes in there and weren't allowed to take pictures. However, if you do want to learn about Absinthe, at the Chateau d'Auvers, there was a section about the influence of absinthe on the 19th century artists and writers so at least there is that.
Things I wish I did:
Maison du Docteur Gachet- The doctor of the impressionists, especially the doctor to Van Gough, Dr. Gachet collected many a painting from his patients in form of payment. The doctor's house is the furthest from the other attractions and we made the executive decision to miss it as it was away from everything else. However if I could do it again, I would skip the Maison Auberge Ravoux and do this instead.
AUVERS & ABSINTHE:
Whether or not he likes it, Van Gough is linked with Absinthe. They use his image on Absinthe bottles, and in the town of Auvers sur Oise, the final resting place of Van Gough, they have more Absinthe themed drinks then I've ever seen.
Sous le Porche- A great place to grab a bite and a drink before you head back on the train. Sous le Porche is situated right in front of the Hotel de ville/ town hall and the perfect place to people watch. If it is a nice day sit outside and have your absinthe themed coctail.
Café de la Paix- Another spot to grab a drink and bite (the absinthe with the sugar photo is from there), they also sell little replicas of famous impressionist paintings, so for around 30 euro you could be a proud art collector.
FOLLOW THE ARTISTS IN AUVERS SUR OISE
OVERALL, Auvers sur Oise is a great day trip outside of Paris. It is only a half hour away (when they have the speicial trains), and is a nice way to hike and learn about impressionism. If you want to take a break from Paris and explor, this is the perfect thing to do on a sunny day. The photos are great and the day is certainly a memorable one.