The Auberge Ravoux / The House of Van Gogh

The Ravoux Inn is located in Auvers-sur-Oise, a village north of Paris.  This now famous inn was the last home to Vincent van Gogh.  Van Gogh was in Auvers for only seventy days, yet these were some of his most productive times.  The inhabitants, such as Adeline Ravoux, as well as the beautiful location and surrounding countryside were an inspiration to the artist, and he created over eighty paintings and numerous drawings.

Houses in Auvers

Houses in Auvers

Van Gogh rented a room from Arthur Gustave Ravoux on May 20, 1890 for 3.50 francs a day including half board.  In 1889, Ravoux had turned the house into an inn which was popular with the artistic community.  Van Gogh was placed in room 5 on the top floor.  The room which was quite small and sparsely furnished with just a bed, dressing table, and built-in cabinet, was lit by a skylight in the ceiling.  During Van Gogh’s stay the other rooms in the inn were all rented to other artists.

Doctor Gachet's Garden in Auvers

Doctor Gachet’s Garden in Auvers

Van Gogh returned to this room following the gunshot to his abdomen.  In her memoir, Adeline Ravoux recalls the night of the incident,

“When we saw Vincent arrive night had fallen, it must have been about nine o’clock. Vincent walked bent, holding his stomach… Mother asked him: “M. Vincent, we were anxious, we are happy to see you to return; have you had a problem?”

He replied in a suffering voice: “No, but I have…” he did not finish, crossed the hall, took the staircase and climbed to his bedroom. I was witness to this scene. Vincent made such a strange impression on us that Father got up and went to the staircase to see if he could hear anything.

He thought he could hear groans, went up quickly and found Vincent on his bed, laid down in a crooked position, knees up to the chin, moaning loudly: “What’s the matter,” said Father, “are you ill?” Vincent then lifted his shirt and showed him a small wound in the region of the heart. Father cried: “Malheureaux, [unhappy man] what have you done?”

“I have tried to kill myself,” replied Van Gogh.”

His beloved brother, Theo, sat by his bedside on July 28 and 29, 1890, until Vincent breathed his last breath.

Wheat Field with Crows

Wheat Field with Crows

Following Van Gogh’s death, room 5 was known as the room where ‘the man committed suicide’ and it was never rented out again.  There were 6 other rooms located on the top floor, many of which were rented to other artists.  Over the course of time these rooms have been renovated however, Van Gogh’s room has remained primarily untouched.  Today visitors can step inside the small room and experience the bare simplicity of the space in which Van Gogh spent his last days.

The Ravoux Inn is the only location Van Gogh lived that is still in its original state.  The rooms in the attic still carry the essence of the artist who lived there.  In 1926 the name of the auberge was changed to the current name of The House of Van Gogh, it is listed as a French Historic Landmark.

Though The House of Van Gogh is known as a “lieu de mémoire” or place of historic association, it is still in operation much as it was in Van Gogh’s day.  The restaurant still serves customers in the little dining room with a setting reminiscent of the artists’ cafes of old.  The Ravoux Inn opened its doors for business in 1876 as a wine merchant’s shop and restaurant.  The 19th century décor and simplicity has been preserved helping to carry visitors back in time.

If you’re walking in Van Gogh’s steps The House of Van Gogh is a place you won’t want to miss.  The auberge is now a museum and tourist attraction.  If you’d like to dine in the restaurant be sure to book in advance as the room is small.

Letter Source:
http://www.webexhibits.org/vangogh/letter/21/etc-Adeline-Ravoux.htm 

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