Trip to France in Saint Paul de Vence


Visit to Saint Paul de Vence

Rita and I were in Nice, on January 16 we decide to go and visit one of the most beautiful tourist sites in France, the village of Saint Paul, because this is the real name of the place. From Nice we take the comfortable bus line 400 which takes us to our destination at the price of 1 euro (20 km).

We arrive after about an hour in Saint Paul which is a small and very popular medieval village, perched on a rocky spur, from a distance it looks like a fortress surrounded by high walls (we will then see that the walls are passable on foot), on which stands a torre, in this period is not very popular, and therefore the visit is very enjoyable. .

The origins of the village are ancient but the current layout dates back to the fourteenth century, but much of what you see is from the fourteenth-seventeenth centuries. The discovery as a tourist resort is relatively recent, around 1930, when it began to be frequented by famous painters and artists (Mirò, Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, to name a few) attracted by the particular position, then came actors and film directors.

We enter the village, practically almost all pedestrianized, passing through the Porte Royale where the mouth of the Lacan cannon is placed, used in 1544 in a battle that took place in Piedmont, next to two pleasant sculptures, then we begin the visit along the rue Grande, a narrow street , of Roman origins that crosses the whole town from Porte Royale to Porte de Vence, you walk between small stone buildings with beautiful facades, on the sides large windows of boutiques, art galleries, souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants, all well inserted, you will often meet cheerful sculptures, with this street you cross very narrow streets with arches and stairs, to note the paving of stones, it is all interesting, also because in January there are no visiting crowds, we meet the Place de la Grande Fontaine with the famous and elegant fountain of 1600-1850 in an artistic square, behind an ancient wash house, then the Placette.

The Rue Grande ends in front of the small cemetery where the great Chagall is buried. We climb the walls along a stretch of it (ignoring the danger signs) to enjoy the interesting view, with the sea in the distance. Then from the Place de l'Hospice, we walk to the side of the western part of the walls, where there are some terraced spaces that constitute viewpoints, from where the view in some places reaches the sea.

Of course we do not fail to visit the Chapel of the White Penitents also called the Folon Chapel, of the seventeenth century (admission 2 euros including the museum, open only in the afternoon, you can take photos without flash) with the recent original frescoes, mosaics and sculptures inside. in modern style (the original hand-shaped altar, which symbolizes giving) designed by Folon, and the Collegiate church (13th century, rebuilt in 1700), which I could define the village cathedral, on the same square the Town Hall and the 13th century tower, remains of an ancient castle. As for the Maeght Foundation, it is closed for renovation, while the Colombe D'Or, the famous hotel and art gallery, we tried to enter, but the staff told us that to visit it we need to stay overnight. .

We had lunch in the famous Café de la Place of 1850, with the bowling green (petanque) in front of the square, we paid 14.5 euros for the dish of the day, around you will see many photos of famous French actors who try their hand at the game. Then I return to Nice with the 400.

July 2010

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Saint-Paul-de-Vence (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃ pɔl də vɑ̃s], literally Saint-Paul of Vence Occitan: Sant Pau Italian: San Paolo di Venza) is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of Southeastern France. One of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, it is well known for its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries such as the Fondation Maeght which is located nearby. [3] Until 2011, the commune was officially called Saint-Paul. [4]

Saint-Paul de Vence: The Jewel of the French Riviera

The glitzy and glamorous seaside resorts of Nice, Cannes and St Tropez might receive all the attention on the French Riviera, however, the region is home to another jewel, one nestled high up in the hinterlands. With its labyrinth of cobblestoned alleys, imposing ramparts dating back to Medieval times and views down to the Mediterranean Sea, the charming hilltop village of Saint-Paul de Vence makes for a popular getaway, thanks to its picture-postcard good looks.

Air of Mystique

Credit: _Saint-Paul de Vence Tourist Information Office / Jacques Gomot - Marc Chagall in his studio

In its heyday, countless artists - struggling and established - fell under Saint-Paul de Vence’s spell. The golden era maybe long gone but its status as a source of artistic inspiration lives on, and an air of old-school mystique still hangs over the village.

Visitors can follow in the footsteps of the artists who once lived in or frequented the village - including Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean-Michel Folon - and admire the vistas they immortalized. Franco-Russian artist Marc Chagall, who among other things, is known for having painted the ceiling of the auditorium at the Opéra de Paris, lived out the last three decades of his life in Saint-Paul de Vence, making it his home from 1966 until his death, aged 97, in 1985. Together with his wife Valentina, known as Vava, Chagall settled in a specially-built maison-atelier known as La Colline on the outer edges of the village, where he completed some of his most famous works.

Credit: Saint-Paul de Vence Tourist Information Office / Elisabeth Rossolin - La Place de la Grande Fontaine

Chagall's perhaps best remembered for his bold use of color and ability to depict vivid emotions, which is evident in such pieces as La Mariée, Le Couple Bleu (both 1950), Les Amoureux de Vence (1957) and La Rencontre (1970-1975). Many of the watercolors that he painted during his time as a resident of Saint-Paul de Vence are widely considered to be heartfelt odes to love.

Belgian painter and sculptor Jean-Michel Folon discovered Saint-Paul de Vence in the mid-1970s, and his regular visits to the village spanned three decades. One of his most impressive oeuvres is housed in the 17th-century White Penitents Chapel, otherwise known as the Folon Chapel. It contains treasures which range from stained glass windows and sculptures to paintings and - shimmering at the far end of the sanctuary - Folon's pièce de résistance, a rainbow-hued mosaic which took him a decade to complete.

With 10,000 pearly tiles per square meter, and approximately a million used in total, Folon's masterpiece took a team of around eight people a painstaking 9,000 hours (two years) to complete. The redecoration of the chapel, at the invitation of the village's mayor, was to be one of Folon's final projects but, sadly, he died in 2005 - long before the building's official reopening in 2008 - but it is certainly a magnificent legacy to have left behind.

Credit: Saint-Paul de Vence Tourist Office / Fernandez - Folon's Chapelle des Penitents Blanc

Galleries & Museums

Artists were drawn to Saint-Paul de Vence in their droves so, somewhat unsurprisingly, the village also enjoys a reputation as a happy hunting ground for art-lovers. Despite its small size, a myriad of fine art galleries and ateliers are scattered throughout its winding streets.

Credit: Copyright Fondation Maeght / JJ L’HÈritier - The Fondation Maeght houses an astounding collection of modern and contemporary art

Within the ramparts, the most established galleries have been exhibiting modern art collections for several decades. Among them are the prestigious Frédéric Gollong Gallery, one of the first art spaces to open in Saint-Paul de Vence Le Capricorne, a fine choice for the works of Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Braque and the Guy Pieters Gallery, which has recently reopened after a full renovation.

Art Seiller, meanwhile, is a newcomer which displays engravings, lithographs and rare posters alongside its permanent collection of paintings and sculptures by such acclaimed modern and contemporary artists as David Kracov, Odile de Schwilgue and Yoël Benharrouche.

Saint-Paul de Vence is also home to the excellent Musée de Saint-Paul, which is located a stone's throw from the village's entrance. Situated in a traditional 16th century stone house, the museum hosts ever-changing exhibitions which showcase the best of contemporary art, featuring those who have left their mark - or rather brushstrokes - upon the village, such as Chagall and André Verdet.

However, Saint-Paul de Vence is perhaps most famous for being home to the Fondation Maeght, a temple to modern and contemporary art which reached its 50th anniversary in 2014. Nestled in sprawling gardens a short stroll from the village, the foundation began as a personal project for a tragedy-stricken Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, following the death of their young son.

Designed by Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert, the Fondation Maeght boasts one of the largest and most important collections of 20th century art in Europe. Many of the Maeghts' artist friends collaborated with them, creating eye-catching works that were seamlessly woven into the museum's landscape - from Joan Miró's sculpture and ceramics-filled labyrinth and Chagall's mosaic mural, to Alberto Giacometti's peaceful courtyard and Georges Braque's pool and stained glass windows.

Performance art was also close to the Maeghts' hearts. An exhibition entitled This is Not a Museum, exploring the links between the visual arts and dance, literature, poetry, theater and music, ran until March 15 and rounded up the Foundation's half-century celebrations.

Celebrity Playground

While the stunning light and color of Saint-Paul de Vence's landscapes continue to attract artists, the village has also long had ties to celebrities - Ernest Hemingway and Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald are just a few of the names who appear on its roll call of stars. In particular, cinema greats have visited over the years, with Kirk Douglas, Orson Welles, Michael Caine and Gene Wilder among the famous faces. Jet-setting celebrities had already been flocking to the French Riviera since the early 1940s, but in Saint-Paul de Vence they saw a place to get away from the madness and embraced this serene setting, which seemed miles away from the rest of the world .

Credit: Saint-Paul de Vence Tourist Information Office / Jacques Gomot - French icon Alain Delon, who also enjoyed the village's relaxed, convivial atmosphere

Saint-Paul de Vence’s star-pulling power reached its height during the 1950s and 1960s, when actors Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, as well as poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert became part of the local community. The latter, who discovered the village in the early 1940s, at one point moved into 'La Miette', a charming abode tucked away in the heart of the village on the Rue de l'Allée. The house still stands today, framed by thick lashings of bougainvillea and climbing ivy.

Like many celebrities, Prévert was a regular at the fashionable La Colombe d'Or, a now legendary inn established in 1932. Run by local character Paul Roux and his wife Baptistine (aka 'Titine'), it was the place to be and ' anyone who was anyone 'knew the importance of showing their face there. Some of the biggest names in art and literature became regulars at the auberge, and often left behind beautiful pieces of work, many of which remain today, such as the colorful sign that hangs above the entrance, painted by Jean-Michel Folon.

La Colombe d’Or is also legendary for being the meeting place of two of France’s biggest stars of the mid-20th century. Yves Montand and Simone Signoret were the toast of French cinema, and she was also the first Gaul to receive an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959). The couple married at the local town hall in 1951, then co-starred in several films, their romance blossoming until Signoret's death from cancer in 1985.

Although the Colombe d’Or is noted for its historical significance, Le Mas de Pierre, a nearby boutique hotel, provides the ultimate five-star experience. The max, or Provençal-style farmhouse, is a lesson in discreet luxury that’s set in a fragrant Mediterranean garden with fig trees, orange and lemon groves, and centuries-old olive trees.

Last summer, exclusive accommodation in the Bastide des Fleurs was unveiled and this brand new addition to Le Mas de Pierre features six light and spacious suites, each with terraces or balconies overlooking a private, heated swimming pool. The suites possess an air of timeless elegance, and a dedicated butler is the icing on the cake.

Credit: Le Mas de Pierre

Le Mas de Pierre overlooks lush green mountains and is only a few minutes from the entrance to the village and the adjacent Place Charles de Gaulle, which is otherwise known as the Place du Jeu de Boules and serves as the rendezvous for lovers of pétanque.

Under the shade of centuries-old plane trees, locals and tourists alike gather at the always-busy Café de la Place for a spot of people watching. But there’s much more to Saint-Paul de Vence than old celebrity haunts and artists ’workshops ...

From Rue Grande, the main street that traverses the village from north to south, the narrow streets are awash with chic boutiques, ancient stone façades, and picturesque squares which reveal elegant fountains and beautifully preserved Provençal houses bursting with old world charm. When the tourist crush gets a little too much, escape to the ramparts along the village's edge for breathtaking views over the surrounding vineyards.

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Saint-Paul de Vence Essentials: How to get there, what to see and where to stay…

Fly to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport.

High-speed TGV from Paris to Nice.

Musée de Saint-Paul, 2 rue Grande, Free entry, Tel: +33 4 93 32 86 95

Fondation Maeght, 623 chemin des Gardettes, Entry € 15, Tel: +33 4 93 32 81 63

Le Mas de Pierre, 2320 route des Serres. Rooms from € 300 per night. La Bastide des Fleurs POA by night. Tel: +33 4 93 59 00 10

La Colombe d'Or, Place du General de Gaulle. Rooms from € 250 per night. Tel: +33 4 93 32 80 02

Saint-Paul de Vence Tourism Office, 2 rue Grande. Offering a range of guided tours. € 5, under 12s free. Tel: +33 4 93 32 86 95

Saint-Paul de Vence Parking

If you decide to rent a car you’ll have to think about parking options in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Depending on where you're staying your hotel might be providing free parking for the guests so make sure to check with them before arrival.

Otherwise, there are parking lots available just outside the city but they are all pretty expensive.
As an example, the Indigo Parking at the Rond Point Sainte Claire costs around € 29 for 24 hours so keep in mind this additional cost when planning to come by car.

If you're coming by camper you're lucky because there are free parking spaces for them just opposite the Fondation Maeght.

There are also some public parking places available near St. Paul de Vence which are free after 7 pm.

Saint-Paul de Vence

Just a short walk from the foundation is the charming little village of Saint-Paul de Vence. We had lunch at La Colombe d’Or, the famous meeting place for artists and thinkers who fled to this region in the 1940s. This was part of the free zone, the area not occupied during World War II. We were looking forward to this dining experience but it got off to a sour start because we had difficulty finding the entrance which made us late for a reservation that I had believed was later in the afternoon than had been arranged with the restaurant. Needless to say, feathers were ruffled and the staff was a bit on the stuffy side. We were surprised because this was the only time that we experienced less than friendly service in France. We were seated at a beautiful table in the garden where we eventually relaxed after a bottle of rosé for the adults and two plates of pasta in butter sauce for the kids.

The remainder of the day was spent in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence and it was not long before we were taken away by the beauty of this special place. We wandered through small streets lined with small art galleries and interesting little shops. We walked towards the walls surrounding this village and took in some of the most magnificent views of the countryside. At one point, we found ourselves inside the wine cellar of La Cave de Saint Paul where we purchased as much wine as we could carry back to the taxi. We managed to bring these bottles back to NYC and have already indulged in some. In addition to all the pictures and special memories, each bottle of wine takes us back to this special day.

The Maeght Foundation followed by a walk through Saint-Paul de Vence is a five star experience that I highly recommend.

For more about family travel click here.

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Tour Features

Experience (s)


Recommended Ages

Activity Level


9:00 am: Be met at the foot of your cruise ship or at the lobby of your hotel.

Discover the regal town of St Paul de Vence that Marc Chagall loved so much. This charming and picturesque village from the Middle Ages has always succeeded in seducing lovers of art and enlightenment. Saint Paul de Vence is the cradle of Provence it exudes its cultural and artistic patrimony. Talent, sensitivity and emotion merge with delicate and intense sensations to please the eye. Enjoy lunch at leisure in a typical restaurant in Saint Paul de Vence.

Continue towards Vence and visit this charming village. The mission of Vence has always been to attract generations of artists, painters and poets. Dufy, Matisse, Chagall, Dubuffet, Carzou, Arman, Anthony Mars, D.H. Lawrence, have all been part of the scene in Vence. The lovely countryside has remained natural and it is far from the crowds and construction. One can admire white and green oaks, Aleppo pines, rosemary bushes, acanthus plants, and bellflowers.

A 5-10 minute walk from the center of town is the Chapelle Matisse, or the Chapelle du Rosaire des Dominicaines de Vence, which was designed and decorated by Henri Matisse between 1947 and 1951. This all-white chapel used stained glass to bring " natural "colors inside, and Matisse considered it his masterpiece," Despite its imperfections. "Henri also liked the feeling of Vence commenting:" This morning, strolling in front of my home, seeing all the young girls, women and men riding their bicycles to market, I thought I must be in Tahiti. "

5:00 pm: Return to your ship or to your hotel.

Saint-Paul de Vence Restaurants - Where to eat in Saint-Paul de Vence

If you're looking for a unique dining experience with mouthwatering food and high-quality wine you're definitely in the right location.

Visit one of the restaurants in Saint-Paul de Vence we’ve listed below, we hope you’ll enjoy a gastronomic feast like no other.

There are many wonderful restaurants in Saint-Paul de Vence

Restaurant La Brouette

La Brouette is a historical place and one of the oldest restaurants in Saint-Paul de Vence.

This rustic eatery with wood tables, soft lighting, and a warm atmosphere is a synonym of a perfect night out in French Riviera.

The menu is very short and contains only the most delicious and high-quality options.
La Brouette is an ideal restaurant for dinner with friends or for a romantic night out with your loved one - in any case, you’ll enjoy the food and have a great time.

La Colombe d'Or

La Colombe d'Or is another historical restaurant you should try during your stay in Saint-Paul de Vence.
It dates back to 1920 and throughout the years was frequented by international personalities such as Joan Miró, Picasso, Chagall or Serge Reggiani just to name a few.

In fact, many remarkable art pieces by famous painters are still hanging on the restaurant's walls to these days and can be admired by the guests.

La Colombe d’Or serves the traditional French cuisine and the classic menu hasn't changed much over the years (which is definitely a good thing).

The interior is elegant and you can really notice the attention to details anywhere you look.
All in all La Colombe d’Or is an iconic restaurant definitely worth visiting, a fascinating dining place and one of the most fun things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Make sure to reserve a table well in advance as they get fully booked quite quickly.

The Caruso

One of the best places where you can try the local cuisine is certainly Le Caruso restaurant.
As we can read on their official website “the chef at Le Caruso offers menus made from fresh and local products, from the nearby markets and also from other regions such as the Jura for cheese or Italy for olives and oils.

The menu includes flavourful options such as French cheese, marinated veal in kumquat fruit or green salad for starters and duck filet, cod filet and beef filet for main courses.
You also mustn't leave without a dessert. I fell in love with their fig in caramel soup and salt butter but there are other options that seem as interesting.

Mister Check

If you want to add an asian twist to your holidays in Saint-Paul de Vence check out the Mister Check restaurant.

This is a simple and casual eatery with just a few tables inside and a couple outside, perfect for a quick and unpretentious lunch or snack.
There is quite a wide selection of authentic Thai food which I highly recommend because one of the chefs is actually Thai and she will make you the best Pad Thai you’ll ever find in the in South of France.

If you're not a thai food lover, worry not! You can also have pizza, burgers or a salad if you like.
All in all the entire menu is really good and made of fresh and high-quality ingredients.


In 2018, the commune had a population of 3,324.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence has long been a haven of the famous, mostly due to the La Colombe d'Or hotel, [6] whose former guests include Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso. [7] During the 1960s, the village was frequented by French actors Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and Lino Ventura, and poet Jacques Prévert.

Saint-Paul is also well known for the artists who have lived there, such as Jacques Raverat, Gwen Raverat and Marc Chagall and more recently the couple Bernard-Henri Lévy and Arielle Dombasle. [8] Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman has a home there. American writer James Baldwin lived in Saint-Paul-de-Vance for 17 years until his death in 1987. [9] [10] British actor Donald Pleasence lived there until his death in 1995. [11]

Xanthi FC player Vincenzo Rennella was born in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. [12]

American comic actors Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner were married in Saint-Paul-de-Vence by its mayor on September 18, 1984.

Video: Top 15 Things To Do In Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

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