Visiting Vincent: A Van Gogh-Themed Trip to France

In celebration of his 165th birthday today, I’m sharing my Vincent Van Gogh themed trip in France! For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the work of Vincent Van Gogh. Growing up my parents would often take my to the Boston MFA which has a few Van Gogh’s in their permanent collection, and the Impressionist/Post Impressionist rooms were always my mother and I’s favorite to hang out it. 

As I’ve grown, so has my love for not only his art, but also the mystery that surrounds his life. My sister bought me a collection of  Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo, who supported his career and was his personal art dealer. Those letters are so touching to read – they show Vincent at his most vulnerable and his most hopeful as he would try to find his place in the world.
I also got a book about a year ago called Van Gogh’s Ear by Bernadette Murphy. This book dives into the mystery behind the story of when Vincent supposedly cut off his ear and give it to a prostitute, and takes you through the author’s journey to find out what really happened and what led up to it. I highly recommend it to fans of Van Gogh, true crime, or if you’re just looking for a good historical mystery.
But my obsession hit its peak this last summer when I got the chance to not only fulfill a life dream of mine and go to France, but also go to visit the town where Van Gogh spent his last 3 months. In those days he created over 77 paintings, including some of his most famous. My favorite paintings of his have always been his portraits, and he painted many of the residents of the town while he was there. If you saw the movie Loving Vincent then you’re familiar with the town and people who got to know Vincent when he was there. (Also if you haven’t seen Loving Vincent WHAT ARE YOU DOING GO WATCH THIS!)

The Van Gogh paintings at the Musee D’Orsay

I was on vacation in Paris with my family, and after seeing so many amazing works by Vincent at the Musee D’Orsay, we decided to take a day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise, which was just one train out of the city. It was such a beautiful and quiet French town. We were there in June, and the everyone in the town had the most beautiful gardens and all the flowers were in bloom. If you ever basically watched the opening scene in “Beauty and the Beast” and wanted to walk around a quaint French village and feel like Belle, go here.

I mean, look at this! This town was a beautiful little dream
Around the town they had little placards at all the locations that had been memorialized in Vincent’s paintings. It’s still so inspiring to me to see the beauty and color he was able to find in places that felt very normal in reality. I hadn’t known too much about what Vincent’s final days were like, but here you got the chance to actually walk in his foot steps, and even visit the room he was staying in and eventually died in.
“Wheatfield with Crows” vs the actual field

“Church at Auvers” vs the actual church
Vincent’s grave at Auvers, with his brother Theo buried next to him, who died shortly after him.
It was a really touching trip to take. Learning more about Vincent, his time here, and the friends he made makes all of his paintings from this period more touching and beautiful to me, and I still love to reflect on my one day there. I hope to one day go back and spend more time there, and also one day go to Amsterdam and visit the Official Van Gogh Museum and more places where he lived and stayed.
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