November 27, 2010
Part 3 - The Auberge Ravoux
Coming back down the hill from the Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery took a little longer than I had anticipated and I felt that I was walking not in the footsteps of Van Gogh, but of Mr. Bean.
I put too much faith in my Google map and walked right by the Auberge Ravoux by about a block. I retraced my steps and found the place. The front door was not in use and the entrance to the restaurant was on a side street. I advised two nice ladies at the ticket entrance that I had a reservation and they told me to go ahead.
I found the tearoom ( reserved for groups) no problem, but I couldn't see how a visitor was to enter the Auberge Ravoux dining room. By now it was well after noon. After squeeeeeezing my way backwards through some turnstiles I walked around the block again still unable to figure out how to get in. Back at the beginning, I passed the two nice ladies again and then I entered the tearoom looking for help. A very shy waiter that looked EXACTLY like Neville Longbottom showed me where I was supposed to go. Silly me for not knowing that the unmarked backdoor was where paying customers should have entered this landmark (read unmarked) site.
Little by little my experience warmed up. I was offered the communal sausage to sample and it was delicious. The waitress opened up a little. Some other gents came in. One looked and behaved as if he was really famous and the head waiter was fawning over him. I think one of them may have been a director. Later they actually asked the waiter to tell one of the patrons not to take photos of their table. Yes, the place had started to fill up. And the once-crypt-like place had turned into a veritable bird cage of twittering tourists. With cameras.
My food was sublime - the best of my trip. I ordered Rabbit Terrine with lentils, 7-hour Lamb Stew, Potatoes Dauphinoise and almond ice cream. I really enjoyed my meal. I appreciated every bite. Maybe I subconsciously knew it was to be my last meal until the following morning.
After paying, I went up stairs to visit Van Gogh's quarters only to find I'd made yet another mistake (not my last of the day, either). The cost of entry was not included in my meal. Back to the two nice ladies at the wicket to pay admission and then I mounted the stairs to Vincent Van Gogh's bedroom.