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The charming rural retreat of Auvers-sur-Oise (30km northwest of Paris in the Vexin National Park) was where Van Gogh spent his last few weeks, painting frantically. Many of his most well-known works, of crows over wheatfields or the local church, were completed here and are now displayed on illustrated panels around the village, allowing you to compare them to their locations today.
The tiny attic room at Auberge Ravoux (52 rue du Général-de-Gaulle, 01.30.36.60.60) that Vincent rented in May 1980 for 3.50 francs is open to the public and gives an evocative sense of the artist's stay. You can also eat here (between March and November 25th), in a dining room that has changed little since Van Gogh's time (closed Sun pm-Tue; menus €27-€38)
Previous Auvers residents included Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Charles Daubigny, whose widow was still living in the village when Van Gogh arrived – he painted their garden. Today you can visit Daubigny's museum (Manoir des Colombières, rue de la Sansonne, 01.30.36.80.20) and studio (61 rue Daubigny, 01.30.36.60.60), still decorated with his murals.
A further attraction here, linked to the artistic community of the day, is the Absinthe Museum (44 rue Callé, 01.30.36.83.26), a modest collection of art and artefacts related to the favoured drink of the 19th century.
Local artistic legacy has not been overlooked by Auver's main historical attraction either. The 17th-century Château d'Auvers (01.34.48.48.48) features a tour themed around the Impressionists and their surroundings.
For more information consult the Val d'Oise Tourist Office website.
|Transport:||By train to Auvers-sur-Oise from St-Lazare (1 hour; or by car (30km) along A15.|