My mom is a van Gogh fanatic so I scheduled in a visit to Auvers during this trip to France. We took the train from Gare Lazare to Pontoise. We didn't know which track to go to to get on the train to Auvers. We missed the one that left right after we got there so we had to wait for an hour for the next train. Oh well. The station at Pontoise doesn't have a WC. An elderly attendant took one look at my 70-year-old mother and let her and my husband go out into the town to find a restroom. He let them back in without having to buy another ticket. I got turned around when we arrive in Auvers, and we took a longer-than-necessary walk to get to our B&B, but we got to see the absolutely cute tunnel going under tracks that we wouldn't have seen otherwise.
We checked in at the B & B "Le Jardin des Belettes". The owner, Annie Adrot, doesn't speak English, but my mom and I knew just enough French to help us get through the stay. She asked us what time we would like breakfast the next morning, and when we said 7:30, she acted like she was fainting. I just said "Yes, busy American tourists". I think she actually understood that. We toured the museum at Chateau d'Auvers. What an AMAZING museum!!! So clever!!! You start out "in Paris" with café scenes, etc. Then you "take a train ride" to the countryside town of Auvers. You learn all about the Impressionist. The gardens of the Chateau are incredible also. We took parts of the RS Auvers walk and took pictures of the places that van Gogh painted. Mom laid flowers on van Gogh's grave. An elderly French lady started talking to my husband whose French vocabulary includes only one word "pardon" because he used is so many times in the metro. He led her over to my mom and me. Her grandmother is also buried in that cemetery. I think we communicated well-enough with her. How fun!
Then we went to the Auberge Ravoux to see the room where van Gogh died. I hope they eventually acquire the painting he did of the room. They already have a case to house it in. We wandered down the main street trying to decide on a place to eat dinner. We ended up at the Boucherie d'Auvers run by Barbara and Jean-Luc. They had hot food on display in the window. Neither of them spoke English, but we got our food ordered (lasagna, spinach quiche, and potatoes dauphinoise). It was the best meal I had in France. I used the French-English translating app on my phone to let Barbara know that we needed some plastic spoons. She thought that was pretty cool. We told her that my mom's name is also Barbara. She came over and gave my mom a big hug, and I took their picture together. I just got prints made to send to Barbara in Auvers. A gentleman walked in who does speak English. When we told him that my mom was from Memphis, TN, he said, "I was in Tennessee once. I miss that, what do you call it, oh yes, cornbread." We took our food from the boucherie, along with some drinks and some cheeseburger flavored Lays chips from the Shopi, back to the B & B and had a picnic in the little garden. Annie fixed us the most incredible croissants for breakfast. She joined us with a cup of coffee. From Auvers, we went back to Paris to catch a TGV train to Stuttgart to visit family.
Cathy - I've enjoyed reading your reports. I've never been to Auvers, will add it to my list to see next trip.
Cathy, what a great report! Your word-portraits of people and places are lovely: I can't wait to go to France!
Cathy, You have brought back a wonderful memory of one of the top ten days of my life. My husband and I took a day trip from Paris to Auvers-sur-Oise and Giverny 13 years ago. It was on May Day, and happened to be market day in Auvers. There was a parade which began at the City Hall. A bus pulled up at the curb, a large band in traditional French uniforms disenbarked, formed up, and were joined by WWII veterans marching behind. We toured the town, stopping to photograph the small graphic signs placed in front of each building he painted. The trip continued with a visit to the American Museum in Giverny, where we were also treated to a fabulous 3-course lunch, and it culminated with a tour of Monet's home and gardens. It seems almost unreal now, but I have the pictures and the pressed lilies-of-the-valley spray and my memories to prove it. The best day-trip EVER! Thanks for reminding me. Lori