Day trip to Saint Paul de Vence

St Paul de Vence is probably the loveliest of the perched villages you’ll find in the south of France. This little village became a magnet for artists and art lovers in the 1920’s, when a group of impressionist painters rediscovered this worn down town. Nowadays St Paul de Vence is filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafe. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into nooks in the walls. There are breathtaking views of mountains and sea. Even the ground below is attractive, as the cobblestones are laid into the shapes of flowers.

How to get there

The easiest way to get to St Paul de Vence from Nice is via tram and change to the bus. Take tram line 2 from central Nice to the Parc Phoenix stop. From there, get on the LR400 bus, which takes about 50 minutes. Best Schedule here. Tickets cost €1.50 and you can buy them in advance.

When to Come

Best to come early morning especially in the summer. We took the 08:25 bus from Nice and we were able to get seats on the bus and had a pleasant ride up. The Village was still empty when we came so we had the village much to ourselves for the first few hours until tour buses arrive around 11am.

What to do

Walk the Ramparts

The ramparts of St Paul de Vence were finished in 1547 and they still hold St Paul de Vence together today. These ramparts remind us that St Paul was once a military stronghold and they are very cool to see. Walk along the top of the ramparts for the best vantage point over the villages below. You can walk on top of the walls when the gates are open, and this is a brilliant way to see the countryside.

Walk to the Cemetary and see Mac Chagall’s grave

While you are in the neighborhood, you might as well stop in the cemetery to have a look around. It’s a unique setting and I love seeing the frequent names of families who clearly had a big influence in the history of St Paul de Vence. One of its most famous residents is Marc Chagall, an all around artist and painter. He’s probably most well known for his paintings of religious themes, and ones where you’ll frequently see a bride, a bouquet, a horse or a chicken, or a combination of all of them. But he also did tapestries, stained glass, ceramics and mosaics.

Chagall moved to Vence in 1949 after WWII, but it wasn’t until 1966 that he moved to St Paul, which is where he passed away in 1985. If you enjoy Chagall’s works then you absolutely must visit the National Chagall Museum in Nice.

Take a stroll past the quasi flat iron Jacque Prevert home

Jacque Prevert was a poet, screenwriter and artist who lived in St Paul de Vence for some 15 years. He was drawn away from Paris in 1941 when the Victorine Film Studios in Nice were in their hey-day. And he was also instrumental in the set up of Fondation Maeght. You also find collages he created that adorn the walls of the famous Colombe d’Or hotel.

Fondation Maeght

Fondation Maeght is one one of the largest and most important private collections of modern and contemporary art in France. It’s located just 1/2 mile before St Paul de Vence village. If you are on the bus from Nice, it’s the stop just before St Paul, and is sign posted. You can then walk up the steep road onto the grounds.

Dungeon of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or the tour de la Mairie

This dungeon or Donjon, as it’s referred to in French, is actually the first structure that was the start of St Paul de Vence. The base formed part of the original Chateau. It dates from the 1100s, and the bell tower was installed in the 1440s. It is now the town hall of St Paul de Vence and you can get married there. They also refer to it as, The Keep.

L’Eglise Collégiale

The Collegiate Church was built in the 1300s and finished in the 1700s. It’s the main church of St Paul de Vence, but is not considered a cathedral. The lighting makes it quite sombre inside, but it’s very unique, architecturally, built in Romanesque style. There are 4 chapels inside, one in Baroque style, and others have paintings, antiquities, parchment from the 1500s, and jewellery. The bell tower is from the 1700s. Pop on in and take a look. It’s nice and cool on a hot summer’s day.

Walk thru the cobblestone path and pop into various arts shops

St Paul de Vence is a place where you just have to wander around instead of ticking the must see attraction. Go inside the cute shops, explore all the quaint alleys, buy yourself a painting or two and chose a restaurant to have lunch and coffee afterward.

St. Paul de Vence is a charming and it’s easy to spend many hours there, strolling thru the cobblestone streets and admiring the stunning architecture and artistic heritage. It is one of a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the South of France. I hope this short article helps with planning your holiday in South of France.

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