of Mountains and
in Provence St-Paul de Vence
checking 'off the beaten track' activities online, we decided that a visit to
St-Paul De Vence would be a wonderful experience while we were staying in the
to the medieval walled village couldn't be easier. We rode the train to Cagnes
sur Mer, a bustling town between Nice and Cannes. Cagnes is a mix of the medieval
Haut de Cagnes and modern lower city. There are plenty of seaside resort activities
here, but it is also a city of artists, with a history of painters such as Ziem,
Derain, Cezanne, Renoir, and Modigliani who all helped to make this city famous.
To pass the short
time waiting for the bus into the hills, we stopped at a small shop across from
the train station where the coffee, sandwiches and prices were all excellent.
Ready for the next leg of the journey, we walked down the street and caught the
number 400 bus to Vance. The
bus runs from Nice to Vance and the fare is just €1. As we climbed the winding
roads, we began to catch glimpses of the object of our quest on the opposite
side of the valley.
St-Paul de Vence is a cluster of white building surrounded
by a stone wall perched in the foothills of the French Alps above the sparkling
Mediterranean waters and white beaches of the Riviera. The hamlet has retained
the beauty of narrow, winding cobblestone streets and colorful patchwork houses
while evolving into a thriving, modern day, artists' colony. The streets are lined
and galleries as well as many small shops offering herbal treatments, perfumes, as well as
places for intimate dining experiences.
incredible scenery of this area, the juxtaposition of mountain and sea, has inspired
artists through the centuries. Mark Chagall chose to be buried in the Saint Paul-de-Vence
Mattise designed the Dominican Chapelle
du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) in the nearby village of Vance of which
he wrote, "Despite its imperfections I think it is my masterpiece the
result of a lifetime devoted to the search for truth." The small
artist's studios and galleries are complemented by larger collections of painting
and sculpture. One of the finest art museums of the region, The
Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation is located here.
were warned about the crowded streets,but
this must be more of a problem during the height of the summer tourist season when
all of Provence and the Riviera are alive with visitors!
The afternoon of our
trip, the tourist traffic was barely noticeable. Some of the locals gathered in
the square to enjoy a game of petanque
as diners looked on from the local eatery. Everyone had smiles for the visitors
who snapped photos of the leisurely action.
the warm and sunny Riviera, even in the nearby hills that belong to the French
Alps, outdoor seating is used all year round. Wandering through the maze of narrow
streets, the sun is pleasantly warm and brings out the colors of the greenery
and scenery that astounds you at every turn. Small, narrow streets open onto vistas
that bring glimpses of the Mediterranean below with the Maritime Alps towering
to the main square after hours of happy wandering to catch the bus back to Nice
with our cameras and minds full of colorful, sunny pictures of this hilltop walled
village. If you are in the area, add it to your list of places to see.