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Oh God, it’s happened. We have become “those Parisians.” I’ve read about “those Parisians” and I had promised that we would never become one of them, but it has happened. We are now officially those Parisians who leave the city on the weekends and invade the countryside in search of sunshine, nature and “an experience.” You can tell who we are… We are the ones wearing blazers and loafers. My husband’s idea of a relaxed outfit is jeans… With a blazer. I am waiting for him to pull out his Lacoste short sleeve shirts to complete his summer wardrobe.


I forced my entire family and caregivers to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to get ready for our weekend adventure. I even meticulously researched our adventure. It was my husband’s birthday and Father’s Day so I wanted to do something special for him but let’s be honest, it’s always about me. But that’s because I’m the fun one in the family. If I don’t plan these activities, who will??!! They will thank me later. Remember when my husband didn’t want to go to the Napoleon auction and now whenever we have friends over he proudly shows our guests our auction winnings (Louis XVI’s wallpaper) as I discreetly roll my eyes.


My idea of a fun weekend usually involves nature and something cultural. I don’t do Six Flags, water parks, or music festivals. In fact, my idea of hell is a jazz festival. I did a little Google research to investigate what kind of fun excursions there were to do one hour outside of Paris. My husband was only up for driving one hour this weekend because next weekend we are looking at an 8 hour drive to Provence and the following weekend a two-hour drive to Normandy. My husband doesn’t know about the Normandy excursion yet but we have to go because there is a fleamarket and a house I want to rent. I think it’s best to keep him on a need-to-know basis.


So, what’s there to do one hour outside of Paris? Lots! Château de Chenonceau, Monet’s garden in Giverney, Versailles, Bois de Bologne, or the farmers market of Saint Germain-en-Laye. We have a special day planned in July to visit Château de Vaux le Vicomte for a dinner at dusk in the royal gardens lit by 2000 candles but what could we do this weekend?  Well, just you wait until you see what I found!


Completely unbeknownst to me, Vincent van Gogh lived in a quaint little town one hour outside of Paris called Auvers-sur-Oise. This is where he painted some of his best works and it is also sadly, the little town where he shot himself in the chest and died. I immediately called my husband and said, “Guess where we’re going this weekend?”


I spent the entire day Thursday researching our adventure and I am now the foremost authority on Vincent van Gogh. Just kidding, a gentleman named David Brooks is the authority and I spent the entire day on his website: Here are some interesting facts about Vincent van Gogh’s life in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890.


Vincent van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise and in this time he painted 77 pieces.


One of these pieces is the famous Portrait of Dr. Gachet which sold at Christie’s in three minutes for $82.5 million.


Dr. Gachet was Vincent’s doctor who was treating him for psychological illnesses but whom Vincent said that he appeared, “sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much.”

Vincent van Gogh was a fiery ginger who often had heated arguments with his brother, Theo. However, Theo was his greatest supporter and died six months after Vincent. They are buried side-by-side in the little village cemetery.

The famous church that van Gogh immortalized in his painting, The Church of Auvers, is located in this little town. So is the local mairie that Vincent painted, Auvers Town Hall on 14 July 1890, that was directly across from his apartment.


Vincent rented a tiny attic room ( N° 5) of the Ravoux Inn for 3.50 French francs per day full board. Vincent shot himself in the chest in the wheat fields and managed to drag his body back to his little apartment where he died the following day in his brother Theo’s arms.

Delve into Vincent van Gogh’s life and history to get a little glimpse of his motivation and passions HERE.

We arrived to Auvers-sur-Oise at exactly 10 AM and were the first guests to visit Vincent’s apartment. It isn’t exactly like this circa 1800s building was wheelchair friendly so I had to sit my sorry ass outside with my caregiver while David and Gracie were lucky enough and able-bodied enough to be able to go upstairs to see his apartment. Because my husband is the greatest husband on the face of the earth, he took pictures for me even though it was not allowed. Let’s take a look…


Our next stop was a very special lunch in the restaurant of the Ravoux Inn where Vincent van Gogh ate every day at table number five. The restaurant has been preserved aesthetically in its original state… State of fucking fabulousness. I kept having to remind myself that this was not Disneyland and that this was real. This was the exact space that Vincent van Gogh inhabited every day. He breathed here, ate here and drank here! On a creepy side note, I always tell my husband that I am sort of excited to die because I envision myself having lunch with the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Coco Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, Eugene Delacroix, Edith Piaf, JD Salinger and my grandparents… my favorite writers, poets, decorators, artists and singers. Okay, back to reality… Let’s take a look at the restaurant and our dejeuner…


After lunch, we took a little walk to the country cemetery where Vincent van Gogh is buried next to his beloved brother, Theo. I thought that there would be some big hoopla commemorating Vincent van Gogh’s burial site but no… Just a modest gravestone surrounded by verdant green ivy thought to have originated from Dr. Gachet’s garden. There he was in this simple country cemetery and I couldn’t think of anything better. He was surrounded by wheat fields, red poppy flowers and all of the landscapes that he loved to paint. I kept saying to everyone, “Can you believe that Vincent van Gogh is just lying there under the dirt. Right there!” The cemetery is just up the road from where Vincent painted the famous church. Let’s take a look…

Here are a few more examples of the pieces that Vincent van Gogh painted during his 70 days in Auvers-sur-Oise…


If you would like to see (and you should) all 77 paintings that Vincent van Gogh painted during his 70 day stay in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, click HERE.

I could have stayed in the little town exploring for hours but my counterparts were ready to get back to the city. They had had enough culture for one day. But for me, it was different. All those years growing up in Missouri and California so far removed and now here I was smack dab in the middle of where one of the greatest painters of all time sought inspiration. How many times have I looked at his paintings at school, in books and in museums happy to be even in close proximity to his work and here I was in Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent van Gogh would get off the train, go to his apartment, eat his dinner and paint some of the greatest artworks that ever were to be! Be still my heart!

I don’t even care if I am one of “those Parisians” because this is a day that I will never forget. David should be so happy that I did this for him for his birthday. :-)

*All photos by my handsome husband.


  1. Oh, I am so jealous! Seeing Van Gogh's work as a child inspired me to study art, and still inspires me to this day. What a wonderful excursion. I need to ditch the 100+ temps here - 10 days running with no end in sight! - and find a quiet, leafy, romantic spot like Auvers-sur-Oise. Thanks for letting me come along.

  2. I feel that I should be sending you tuition. This blog is like a master class on art,cooking,all things French, how to live with style grace and just generally how to kick ass. I can't wait to see more of France through your blog. Take care Corinne

  3. This is SO interesting and thank you so much for sharing! I've, for some strange reason, felt drawn to Van Gogh since I was a young girl and our Art teacher taught us about him in class and then took us to the Kansas City Art Museum. Maybe it was because he suffered from depression and so did I??:) Anyway, I've always thought his life was so interesting - and tragic. I have a print of his Sunflowers in my living room. I also love Starry Night. What a great trip you all had. And am also glad and surprised their burial sites aren't some sort of huge showy shrines; just the simple stone makers they were in the first place. It IS amazing they're buried right there! I would have been saying same thing! That's what I love about trips like that. That you get to visit rooms they stayed in, walk the streets they walked, eat where they ate, etc! Also, Some of the most difficult things for me as a mother was having to go to 1. amusement and water parks 2. bad animated movies or bad kids movies and 3. going to places like Chuck E Cheese (loud pizza place)! And then fake my enjoyment!! Am happy you got out and are feeling better! What a nice husband, daughter and caretaker(s)!

  4. today's blog is just full of fabulousness! what a wonderful excursion, yes, David should be thrilled :) Love Van Gogh! can't wait to hear about your next excursion xo

  5. Made MY DAY!!! I am so grateful that you shared this with us. So fantastic, interesting and out of this world wonderful. I really felt like I was sort of with you all! Great photos, blog and sentiments. You are a wonderful, charming, interesting and funny storyteller. I love Van Gogh ..and now I know and feel more about him seeing through your visit. XOXOXO P.S.
    What a gorgeous family you are!!! Hells Bells!! Beauty all around!

  6. Hello Ellie, We spent half a day also touring that area where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last days. Interestingly they told us that there was question as to whether he shot himself or what shot by another young man who was with him. Did you hear that? Maybe they are trying to be mysterious? His room was rather sad. Also was told that his brother died back at home with his wife but his wife had him buried with his brother since the were so close. I, too was rather surprised at their ivy covered modest graves. A very lovely quiet spot though and a very interesting cemetery. We visited there after a long morning and early afternoon at Giverney, quite a contrast. Thank you for all of the photos, especially since we could not take any inside. :D

  7. wow, what a day! I LOVE it......another fabulously colorful memory for the Father's Day & Birthday....I would LOVE doing this.....absolutely fantastic...I was an ArT major in school, what isn't ArT, I love ArT and to see where Van Gogh ate lunch everyday.....I would be in constant awe.....SO happy you took this trip, isn't it almost always the woman that does the research,
    plans the trip, and on and on! We do get it done and so worth it! YEA, to see you out and going going going.....:-))xoxo

  8. Great post! Detailed, yet fun, so full of good stuff. And I always like it when you show what you've eaten. Could you take a pic of menus sometimes when your out?
    Love this; can't wait for your upcoming adventures to be detailed here.
    Sheila in Port Townsend

  9. What a fabulous day out you planned and thank you so much for taking us along with you! So thrilling and I also feel that your blog is a master class on all the important topics but also how to kick ass in life... you constantly inspire me. XO

  10. David is a keeper.

  11. So enjoyed your post (and actually, all your posts).... Thank you for living and sharing; a true inspiration to all. Being so young and living with the knowledge that it will likely be sooner than you anticipated leaving this earth has to be very very difficult. Notwithstanding all the bad moments or days you seem to be taking advantage of the good days making memories with your loved ones...Hugs

  12. Loved this post - such a great excursion to go on… being able to compare paintings to real life is always fascinating to me.
    I read recently there is a theory that Vincent VG was in fact murdered. There is a story that the 14 year old son of a local dignitary (mayor? can't remember) was the leader of a pack of boys who would taunt him constantly. Apparently the gunshot wounds suggest that the bullet came from more of a distance, he was out painting at the time and in fairly good mental health, and he lived another day while resolutely refusing to discuss what had happened. It was later covered up by the Doctor and the village. Or so the new theory goes.

  13. I gathered the seeds from that very same pink hollyhock at Giverney and they bloom every year at this time next to our chicken coop . I will look at them now and think of you and your fun filled field trip , thank you for taking us along . Big Love , A

  14. I think his paintings are so full of passion and warmth. Not cold and analytical. What a wonderful outing, I hope your David enjoyed it, too. Love the family photo, you all look like "Beautiful People" :-)) Thank you for the tour, this is the closest I will get.

  15. Ellie, I fell in love with Van Gogh when I read Irving Stone's fictionalized biography Lust for is based on letters between him and his brother, Theo. You might enjoy it. LOVE reading about your fantastic travels! By the way, you looked particularly lovely in the pictures.....

  16. So jealous! That just about says it all. xoxo Mary

  17. This sounds like a truly magical day, would love to visit.
    By the way, I really enjoy reading your your humor!

    All the best, Simone

  18. Oh Ellie... thank you for this... you're always taking us on wonderful adventures with you. The closest I've had to real culture lately was our visit to the Getty in November.


    1. I agree, thank you so much for sharing this with us! I live so far out in the cornfields that the closest culture is in my yogurt.

  19. I so enjoyed touring Auvers today, you're such a fab tour guide!

  20. I love Van Gogh's paintings and how I wish I could go to this precious little town and see the inspiration for some of his paintings. Thank you so much for sharing you excursion with us.

  21. What a dreamy day. I should not have read this before lunch. That salad I had planned is not going to cut it now! Oh and our husbands are sartorial doppelgängers. Mine met my ferry on the (rustic, simple, casual) island of Ponza last week in a Brooks Brother white oxford, blue blazer, jeans and wing-tips.

  22. Thanks so much for including me in your little trip to Auvers. The pictures are wonderful - what a charming little village! Maybe on my next trip to France I can squeeze it in. So you are off to Provence for the weekend - where are you going? You were in Lisle sur la Sorgue last time - maybe you're going to give that Sunday market another try? I hope you'll treat us to a recap of your trip there, complete with lots of photos. After that I look forward to reading all about your trip to Normandy!

  23. Ellie. you have truly won my heart with this post. Vincent and the last part of his life , with some of the greatest paintings in the world. Thank you so much for the additional links. It amazes me that there are even canvases left in his room.
    PS you crack me up with " on a need to know basis"!

    The Arts by Karena

  24. YOU ARE A RIOT...............I CAN SO RELATE TO YOU!

  25. My wasband and I visited the Van Gogh graves on the anniversary of Vincent's death and they were covered with sunflowers (we brought some, too:-)
    I love, love, love your blog and thanks for bringing me a great memory!

  26. I too enjoyed your day! The family photo of you three is beautiful - and you look beautiful. Nice birthday and adventure - and thank you for adding the link to the 70-day stay / 77 portraits. Why do I love the portrait of Dr. Gachet so much? The restaurant where you had lunch is classic, and the dinnerware!

  27. Dear Ellie
    You look fabulous!

  28. Got this in my inbox just now:

  29. Vincent was only 37 when he died! I'm dumbstruck! He looks so much older in his self-portrait. Yet, look at all the beauty he created in his short life. Amazing. I'm so glad you got to go to Auvers-sur-Oise, Ellie - selfishly speaking, because all the rest of us went with you! Thanks for the tour! More importantly, I'm so enjoying your blog. You have fabulous strength and courage and grace - and you can see we all love your great sense of humor. Sending love to you.

  30. Oh, Ellie, you make me laugh! Thanks so much for the tour -- looking forward to the next one.

  31. Ellie, Fab little travelogue. I am pinning this in case I ever get the chance to get there. I love Van Gogh and will check out this site. I was lucky to see some special Van Goghs that were on display at the Met a few weeks ago. They are seriously the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen! I came away with a real desire to see more of his work!
    You look chic in your hat! Looking forward to your next weekend getaway! Happy summer from another California girl. x Kim

  32. Ellie dear ~ Through osmosis my senses took in the sights sounds and aroma of your guided tour and lunch...bless you for
    sharing....the photography is superb.. Don't have to convince you of my admiration and awe...can't keep a Yankee,
    now bonafide Parisian, down.... I embrace you, David and Daughter in my prayers for courage and strength, with healing
    mercies included. Bless you for lifting us all up to that special atmosphere you inhabit.

  33. What a great experience! I love Vincent Van Gogh's works. There is simply nothing like seeing them in real life - the textures and rich colors. Have you read the book, Lust for Life? It is a fantastic novel about Van Gogh (although it begins a bit slowly). After reading it, my feelings are so much deeper whenever I see one of his pieces. Perhaps you could listen to it as an audio book (?). Thank you for your great post - and for your great blog. I've spent the last several days going back through all of your old posts -and I love your style and sense of humor. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Michelle from

  34. David is a very good little vignette photographer, isn't he?! Sometimes there is joy to be found is embracing the pedestrian pleasures of being like everyone else. This looks like a little jewel of a town and I've never even heard of it. I so love those deeply saturated blue shutters against the stone. Can't wait to see all about your trip to Provence and then Normandy!

  35. Totally dorky, but have you ever watched the Dr. Who episode with van Gogh? It's heart-breaking and sweet and it features the church (I think). I am sure you can see it on You Tube.