St Paul de Vence

From the A8 as you drive towards Valbonne from Nice, there’s a small village perched on a hillside. Despite numerous trips to the region, I had never been to St Paul de Vence.

On a slightly overcast day, we decided to take a break from lying on beaches under the best invention, the beach umbrella and go and see the fortified village perched on the hill.

Stairs between the walls

The tiny cobbled road wound around the hillside, past the tiny shops, numerous (bad) art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Miniature staircases lead up through the thick stone walls to the top of the village, the church tower.

The end of the road

It was certainly one of the prettiest villages I’ve been to in the area, perfect for all things lavender and a must see for anyone visiting.

St Paul de Vence has attracted painters throughout the years including Chagall and Picasso. Sadly the art today is less appealing and some horrors were seen through the windows of many a gallery along the way.

Thankfully offsetting the art were vintage French signs which restored my design sensibilities somewhat.

French charm

One of the highlights of the village was the graveyard. With a panoramic view of the mountains in one direction and the Mediterranean in the other, it wouldn’t be a bad place to end up. Exactly what Marc Chagall thought as apparently he’d got there first.

Graveyard with a view
The grave of Marc Chagall

I have liked and appreciated Chagall’s work for many years and it was a lovely experience to go to a place where he’d lived and worked. 

We stopped for a baguette and perched on the wall with a spectacular view of the mountains beyond.

From St Paul de Vence we wound our way down the hillside pausing in a tiny village called La Colle sur Loup to look at antique shops and do a little spontaneous brocanting. Or so we thought. It turned out that La Colle sur Loup was, in fact, the home of the four hour lunch break. Closed from 11:30am to 3:30pm for lunch, it did seem slightly over the top.

Despite that, and despite not going brocanting, it had been another glorious day exploring the South of France.

Next time though, try opening the shop!

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