Advantages Beautiful place
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
My dad’s friend and his wife work in the South of France and they live in Saint Paul de Vence. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit them with my parents 4 times in the last couple of years. The first time we went to the village, we were staying in a hotel in Nice and only went to St Paul for the afternoon/evening. The following three times, I we stayed in their house in the village for a few days. Having now visited on more than one occasion, I think I have a good feel for this lovely little place.Every year this village sees millions of tourists pass through it’s cobbled streets every year and as it’s such a beautiful place I can see why…
Saint Paul de Vence is a small walled village located in Provence, in Southern France. We fly to Nice airport (with easyjet) and our friend picks us from there. A taxi from the airport would be rather expensive (around 40 euro I believe) so we’re fortunate that we’ve always had a lift there and back. There’s a bus service from the airport but this takes1 hour – it’s only about 15-20 minutes in the car.
There is a small history museum in the village which has life size waxwork dummies, which help to tell the story of the history of the village. All the information signs are in French, but they provide you with a book of information in the language you desire.Just across the street from the museum is the White Penitents’ Chapel which is decorated by the artist Folon. Decorating the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs (17th century) was one of the last commissions undertaken by the Belgian artist Folon, who died in 2005. The artwork inside the chapel is breathtaking and it a beautiful, peaceful place to visit. It’s not like any chapel I’ve ever been in before and I think it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the village.
Prices: combined ticket for Local History Museum + White Penitents' Chapel decorated by Folon:
• €3 per person
• €2 reduced price
A couple of times we’ve been there, there have been some sort of festival on. These often have live music and fireworks. The live bands are sometimes quite good and there’s always a good atmosphere. If you are staying inside the village it may be worth checking out if there’s a festival on. They can get quite noisy, so if you didn’t want to get involved it may be a good idea to visit when there’s no festivals. However, I love it when there is a festival on as the atmosphere is great! Once a year in August, the village is lit up to make it look like it has been set alight to mark the anniversary of an event in history.The Maeght Foundation is a museum of contemporary modern art and is worth a visit if you’re interested in such artwork. I’m not particularly a huge fan of modern art but having been to Saint Paul a number of times it’s definitely growing on me, and I particularly like the work of Chagall.
“Conceived in the late 1950s, the idea of creating a contemporary art institution was fairly audacious, indeed unheard-of in Europe. Four decades after its completion, it continues to work well as a place to view, study and enjoy art in peaceful and meditative surroundings.” It’s quite a walk outside the village. The Maeght Foundation can be visited from 1st October - 30 June 10:00 – 12:30 & 14:30 – 18:00; 1st July – 30 September 10:00 – 19:00 without interruption. Entrance €10 adults, €8 children, free for children under 10.There are lots of shops in the village along cobbled streets. Many of these shops look like museums or art galleries and the goods sold (often artwork and jewellery) are too expensive for my budget but I very much enjoy looking in them. There are also your traditional style gift shops that you get in all tourist locations, which sell gifts at more affordable prices.
The views from Saint Paul de Vence are truly breath taking, especially those from the ramparts, on the edge of the village. You can see for miles around and I never tire of the beautiful scenery. I always take lots of photos but they never do the amazing views justice. From the terrace at our friend’s house, you can see the Alps in the distance.
Café de La Place is located in the middle of the village next to the boules court (which is often quite busy with people playing boules). It is always busy and has a lovely atmosphere. There are tables and chairs outside the café (in the shade) as well as indoors. We chose to sit outside and this was an ideal place to people watch (something I love doing on holiday). We ate lunch here one day when our friends were at work. This is a lovely cafe to sit and watch the world go by. Although the food and drinks are quite expensive, the atmosphere and the location make it a lovely place to sit on a sunny afternoon. I would recommend a visit here if you are in the village. The prices did spoil the experience a little bit but it was very enjoyable and not somewhere we would go everyday.There are a number of bars in the village and we’ve gone for drinks to a few different ones during our stays. There’s nothing I enjoy more when I’m here than sitting in a French bar with a glass of French wine surrounded by people, after a lovely day wandering round the village. Saint Paul de Vence has a wonderful atmosphere at night as well as through the day, although it’s much quieter at night when the majority of the tourists have gone home.
There are a number of B & B’s in the village as well as small hotels. My parents stayed in a B & B on one visit when I didn’t go with them. They said they were happy enough with their room, but it was just a basic B & B. A full list of accommodation can be found on the Saint Paul De Vence website (listed at the bottom of my review). One hotel I think is worth mentioning, out of interest, is La Colombe D’or. The website tells me the hotel is world famous, so maybe you’ve already heard of it, although I hadn’t heard of it until I visited St Paul de Vence. I’ve never been in the hotel and at the moment certainly wouldn’t be able to afford to stay here, but who knows…maybe one day! (€285 to €430 per night) The hotel has been host to extraordinary personalities over many years such as Pablo Picasso. The hotel also has its own private modern art collection, heated swimming pool, sauna and valet parking.Many people who visit Saint Paul De Vence, don’t actually stay in the village, there are number of coach trips entering the village every day. Personally I think if you want to explore more of Provence than just this village then you should visit Saint Paul for the day to fit more into your holiday.
Saint Paul de Vence is within easy travelling distance of the surrounding towns and villages, such as Vence, Valbonne, Cannes, and Nice. I believe the buses offer service to all these locations but we did have a car, as our friends took us out when they weren’t at work. When they were at work, we used the time to explore the village rather than get the bus elsewhere.
The weather reflects that of Southern France, therefore it’s lovely and hot in the summer. I’ve been twice in August, once in June and once in September and the weather has never been quite the same twice. Both times in August it has been very hot and sunny, a little too hot to be honest. June was sunny and hot, but more bearable. Last year we went in September and it was cloudy and thundery for the few days we were there. It was still quite warm though. It has rained quite a few times while I’ve been there but it never seems to last for long (and as my dad’s friend is a gardener, he always welcomes the rain!) and it’s never spoilt our short breaks there.There are a number of residents in the village and there is parking available but this is difficult and residents need to have a permit. They don’t have reserved parking places which can mean they often have to drive around for a while to find a spot to park. This can be a disadvantage to both the tourists and the residents as the village is not pedestrianised for the most part.
The village is quite small and once you get your bearings you’ll realise that everything is quite close together within the village.Advantages
•everything is expensive
•there’s not loads to do within the village
•can get very overcrowded in summer
•There's probably not much that will entertain children and it's not really suitable for people who use wheelchairs or have difficulty walking as all the streets are cobbled and there's quite a lot of steps.
Thanks for reading!
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Pages: 144, Hardcover, Editions Assouline
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