In the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh in France

France was a great source of inspiration for the world-famous artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). Van Gogh worked as an art dealer in Paris, painted his most famous works in Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in the south of France, and died in Auvers-sur-Oise. Here's a look at the different places where the famous painter left his mark!

From art dealer in Paris...

Van Gogh's first encounter with France was in Paris, where, in 1874, he began working as an art dealer for the company Goupil & Cie, a gallery located in Montmartre in the heart of a still rural artists' quarter. Without much success, he was eventually made redundant. After a brief diversions to England, Vincent returned to the Netherlands in 1876 and it would be ten years before he was able to set foot in Paris again.

Even today, it is wonderful to stroll in the picturesque streets behind the famous place du Tertre, in Montmartre. Vincent took his first steps in the French capital at 9 rue Chaptal, where Goupil & Cie was headquartered, a majestic building, and at 19 boulevard Montmartre where the shop was located.

... to the artist in Paris

In 1886, Vincent returned to Paris, where he moved in with his younger brother, Theo. This time he devoted himself entirely to painting. Paris was then considered the artistic centre of the impressionists. It was in the French capital that Vincent became acquainted with the colourful works of Monet and came into contact with painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Millet and Breton, who would later have a great influence on his painting style, as he was inspired by the colours of this period.

Arriving in Paris earlier than expected, Vincent initially lived with his brother Theo in a small flat at 25 rue Victor Massé. Two months later, they moved to a larger flat with a spacious studio at 54 rue Lepic. These two buildings still exist. The shop of the paint merchant "Père Tanguy" was another important place for Vincent, as it was for many other great painters. Located at 14 rue Clauzel, this is the shop where Vincent used to buy his materials and where he was introduced to Japanese prints. It still exists and bears the name of its former owner, Julien Tanguy.

Discover Paris by Van Gogh

Highlights :

  • Hameau des Artistes 5 - The famous windmill of the Moulin de la Galette, situated on one of the hills of Montmartre, was frequently painted by Vincent and his contemporaries. The Moulin de la Galette became a meeting place for artists, where they danced, sang and drank.

  • Boulevard de Clichy 62 - Le Café du Tambourin was located here, where Vincent and other artists liked to meet.

  • Boulevard de Clichy 128bis - The studio of the contemporary artist George Seurat.

  • Rue Tourlaque 5 - The studio of the friend Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec.

    Museums exhibiting works by Van Gogh:

  • [Le Musée Rodin] has one of Vincent's portraits of Julien Tanguy.

  • [At the Musée d'Orsay], several works by Van Gogh are exhibited alongside those by Gauguin and other contemporaries (Impressionists). There is a version of his "Bedroom in Arles", self-portraits and works he did at Auvers-sur-Oise.

In search of "his Japan" in Arles

After two years in Paris, Vincent grew tired of the hustle and bustle of the city and left in 1888 in search of "his own Japan" in the picturesque little town of Arles. In Arles, he rediscovered the light, the blue sky and the colours he had so sought after in Paris. It was during this period that he was most productive: in 15 months, he produced no fewer than 300 paintings, including some of his most famous works such as "Sunflowers", "The Yellow House" and "Bedroom in Arles". But Arles is also the place where Vincent got lost, argued with his good friend Paul Gauguin and cut off part of his ear!

Discover Van Gogh's Arles

The Vincent van Gogh Foundation (External link) - Museum dedicated to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and the artists who were close to him.

  • Espace Van Gogh - The courtyard garden of this former hospital, where Vincent stayed for a time after his incident, has been completely refurbished in accordance with one of his paintings.

  • Café du Forum - At the Café du Forum, 11 Place du Forum, Vincent painted "Terrasse de café la nuit".

  • Le Rhône - The river that runs through the city was one of Vincent's favourite subjects, notably "Starry Night on the Rhône".

  • La maison jaune - In 1888, Vincent rented a room in the yellow house we know from the painting of the same name, located at 2 place Lamartine. This square still exists, but unfortunately the house was destroyed during aerial bombardments in 1944.

  • Circuit Van Gogh - This walk will take you to discover the key places in Van Gogh's life and his most famous subjects. These include the Alyscamps cemetery, the arenas, the Café du Forum, the Rhône, the old mill and the olive groves.

Painting fever in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

After cutting off his ear in 1889, Vincent spent a year in an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Despite his fragile mental state, he nevertheless produced 150 paintings, including the "Fleurs d'Amandier". He found inspiration in the garden of the asylum and in the surrounding countryside, such as the Alpilles.

Discover Van Gogh's Saint-Rémy

  • Monastère Saint-Paul de Mausole -The former Romanesque monastery where Vincent was treated for a year, from May 1889 to May 1890, is now a medical institution, partly open to the public. The austere atmosphere of Van Gogh's room contrasts sharply with the colours of his paintings, images of which are on display in the garden of the former monastery.

  • The Van Gogh Route- A walk lasting around an hour takes you to the places where Vincent found his inspiration and set up his easel. Signs with reproductions of his works point the way.

  • Musée Estrine (External link) - A museum with a small exhibition area and a film devoted to Vincent van Gogh.

Auvers-sur-Oise: The last two months of his life

After leaving the institution, Vincent moved in 1890 to Auvers-sur-Oise, a charming village near Paris, where, discouraged by his still unstable mental state and financial worries, he took his own life two months after his arrival. Nevertheless, during this short period, Van Gogh continued to paint enthusiastically, on the advice of his friend and amateur painter, Dr Gachet.

Discover Van Gogh's Auvers-sur-Oise

  • Guided tour "In the footsteps of Van Gogh"- Auvers-sur-Oise is a large open-air museum where Van Gogh created no fewer than 80 works. The Tourist Office guide will take you past the church of Notre-Dame de L'Assomption (free admission) and the "cornfield with crows".
  • Maison du Docteur Gachet (External link) Doctor Gachet, himself a keen painter, quickly befriended Vincent and welcomed him into his home. Today, it hosts exhibitions.
  • Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery On 29 July 1890, Vincent took his own life in Auvers-sur-Oise. Six months later, his beloved brother Theo died in the Netherlands. Theo's wife arranged for the two brothers to be laid to rest side by side in the Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery. The ivy tying the tombs together came from Doctor Gachet's garden.
  • Auberge Ravoux (External link) The inn, also known as "Van Gogh's House", was Vincent's residence and the place of his death during his short stay in Auvers-sur-Oise. Today, the inn is a café-restaurant with a must-see scene and old-world charm. Vincent's bedroom is still intact and open to visitors.
  • ["Tree roots"] It was only in 2020 that an old postcard revealed the place in Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh painted his famous picture "Tree Roots": 46 rue Daubigny. An exceptional painting, since it was his last work before his death.