Saint-Paul de Vence - French Riviera

SEP 12,2015 - SEP 12,2015 (1 DAYS)

France

1 DAYS

Culture

Saint-Paul de Vence:

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Introduction: Saint Paul (St. Paul) is a beautiful medieval fortified village perched on a narrow spur between two deep valleys. Saint-Paul de Vence is a very frequented place for it's very numerous art galleries and for the Foundation Maeght, museum dedicated to the modern and contemporary art. The Foundation is situated in a garden decorated with numerous outdoors sculptures and welcome every year more than 210,000 guests. It exhibits works of Joan Miro and Alberto Giacometti. The summer, the permanent collection leaves the place to temporary exhibitions. Its location gives you a great view of the village from the La Colle road to the east or the Cagnes-Vence road to the west. Except for the ramparts and the typical old houses, the most predominant things to see in the village are the scores of art galleries, tourist shops, pseudo "artisanal" shops; all very expensive.

Short History: The first record of the village is from the 11th century: Castrum Sancti Pauli. The village was fortified in the 13th century. In the 16th century, St. Paul was ruled by the Lords of Grasse-Bar, and then became a Royal Village. In 1537, François 1st built a second wall to completely enclose the village. Several hundred houses had to be destroyed, and the inhabitants moved down to the lower lands, where La Colle is now located. Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Signac, Renoir, Dufy, Soutine and Chagall came here ( not all together) to the Cafè Robinson, the only existing restaurant. The owner, Paul Roux, accepted their paintings as compensation and day by day, year by year he could build an extraordinary art collection...

Festivities: Every June - Fete de la Musique and Fete, Feux de la St Jean.

BY BUS: Bus no. 400 goes between Nice and Vence via Saint-Paul de Vence. The bus departs from rue Verdun/Albert 1ere bus stop, opposite Hotel Meridian. The ticket costs just 1.50€ and you can buy it from the driver as you board, but note that if you are using a Nice day pass/week pass/or ten-trip card, it will work for going to Vence, but not to Foundation Maeght or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, due to this town lying in another bus network. Nice - Saint-Paul de Vence takes 60 - 75 minutes. If you want to make a free transfer within 2 1/2 hours, you can drop by the Lignes d’Azur boutique (across from train station or just off Place Garibaldi) and buy a Ticket Azur for the same price. This could be useful if you take a tram or bus in Nice before catching the bus 400, or if you want to see the Foundation Maeght and then want to take the bus one stop more to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, to avoid walking. On bus #400 - ask to stop AFTER the Foundation Maeght stop (Saint-Paul-de-Vence is the next stop). Bus #94 departs from the same place, goes to Vence and DOES NOT STOP at Saint-Paul de Vence.  For complete, up-to-date time table of line 400 (Nice-Saint Paul de Vence- Nice) (in French): https://www.departement06.fr/documents/A-votre-service/Deplacements/transports-en-commun/dpt06-cadredevie_lignes_400.pdf

Distances to Nice and Antibes: 18 km (each).

We include Fondation Maeght in our Saint-Paul de Vence route - but, leave it for the end of our route. It is 750 m. walk DOWN from the Saint Paul village to this museum. From there, you catch the line 400 bus (stop opposite the museum) - back to Nice.

Orientation:

  1. This is a beautiful place to stop. All you do is wandering through quaint, narrow, medieval, cobblestone streets and alleyways and having glance at beautifully preserved buildings, galleries and artistic shops. Lots of shops and places to eat. At every turn there's something to marvel at.
  2. It is definitely touristy and can get packed at high season. We visited in September and it was not too bad at all. It quietens down in the evenings and is much more relaxing to look around and enjoy.
  3. Ideally you should go on a sunny day, or at leat on a day that isn't raining.
  4. Good shoes are recommended as the cobbled streets are not very comfortable for walking.
  5. There are guided tours in English, departing from the Tourist Info Centre, €7 each and lasting over an hour.
  6. There are also great views of the surrounding hills. There are gorgeous photo opportunities around every corner.
  7. It's quite expensive to stay and sleep here.

Duration: 3-4 hours inside the village. Allow 2-3 hours for the bus trips. You can plan a whole day, as there is a lot to explore, if you are the kind of person who sees details and enjoys going into the little workshops and galleries.

The no. 400 bus stops near a small fountain:

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The Lavender smell hits your nose - immediately and you feel as if you have indeed stepped into another century. We turn left and begin at the Espace Sainte-Claire carpark. Across the road you will notice the small Chapelle Sainte Claire which marks the entrance to the village, from there walk left towards the main ramparts and you will pass by the famous hotel/restaurant on your left, La Colombe d’Or. Approach the parking lots, the main entrance to fortified Saint Paul and the wall that surrounds the village hugging it on all sides. On our left is the Hotel La Colombe d'Or (Hotel, restaurant and modern Museum - 15 euros entrance fee). La Colombe d’Or is decorated with artworks from Picasso, Leger, Matisse and other struggling artists who settled their bills with paintings. You can’t just wander in and look around, but you can make a reservation for lunch or dinner in the courtyard terrace, or drink an apéritif in the bar and enjoy the artful surroundings:

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The first square, we meet, is the Place du Jeu de Boules beneath the ramparts at the entrance to the village. The square is edged with century-old plane trees where the villagers like to gather. The Café de la Place stands on one side: its terrace is the perfect spot for enjoying the atmosphere. The famous Colombe d’Or is on the other: its regulars included the greatest artists of the 20th century: Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Braque etc':

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The Café de la Place is at the entrance just across the Colombe d’Or (on your right) and just like the latter, it is a St-Paul landmark:

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Follow the ramparts, climbing towards the village, and enter by the Porte de Vence. This powerful, fortified gateway reminds us that Saint-Paul was a key border stronghold. Saint-Paul's ramparts were constructed in the 16th century on the order of François I and have remained intact. The entrance is also protected by a tower from the 14th century. At the Gate of Vence, notice the arched portico, the 14th-century cannons and the fortified tower and you begin to sense the history of this hilltop village as one of the first examples in France of a bastioned enclosure. Most tourists walk uphill on the main street – rue Grande – but just inside the gate take the first street on the right, rue de la Tour, and this leads you along the western ramparts and provides great views over the landscape.

The main entrance is through a thick arch - Vence Gate (Porte de Vence):

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From the main entrance and the adjacent, huge tourist parking lot just below the city walls - we walk into the walled town trough the arch/gate above. We are on the top of a hill overlooking stunning countryside all around:

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Culture in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Culture in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

The views to west from the village main entrance through the walls gate:

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Restaurant le Tilleul, 2 Place des Tilleuls - near the parking lot in the main entrance:

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Turn right onto Rue de la Tour. We start our itinerary in the spot where the Saint Paul tourist office is on our left and the ramparts are on our right overlooking stunning scenery and splendid countryside:

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We walk from north-east to south-west along rue de la Prison, slight left and continue 200 m. southward along Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul when the ramparts are immediately on our right:

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Here and there - there is a contemporary sculpture above the walls:

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The ramparts from the north:

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When Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul meets Rue du Casse Cou (on your left: north-east) - take a couple of minutes to watch the wide countryside around:

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On your left there is an hotel (Hôtel Le Saint-Paul) and municipal restroom (20 cents):

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You can use the stairs - leading to the private area of Hôtel Le Saint-Paul:

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120 m. further south along Rempart S O Courtine Saint-Paul (where it continues as Courtine Saint Michel) and we have wonderful. The cemetery (cimetière) is the resting place of the famous painter Marc Chagall, his simple white tomb often topped with pebbles as tributes (a Jewish tradition). Exiting the cemetery, there are steps to the right up to a lookout area for a panoramic view of the valley, mountains and sea:

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Head northeast on Courtine Saint Michel toward Rue Grande, 25 m. Continue northward along Rue Grande.

Rue Grande (from south to north):

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The eastern entrance to the Hotel and Restaurant Le Saint Paul :

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Stratos Ateliê on the west side of Rue Grande:

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Rue Grasnde (near Rue de Soldat:):

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Atelier Morin, 50, rue Grande:

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Brilliant paintings of movies stars:

Charlie Chaplin:

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James Dean:

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Continuing northward along Rue Grande - we arrive to the Town Hall Square (Place de Mairie). In the past - it was the market square. Here stands an h. Place de la Mairie is the highest place of the town, with its highest tower, the Donjon, part of the ancient castle, and now part of the town hall:

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Bernardi House - in the Town Hall square:

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Donjon Tower - Town Hall:

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In this square stands the Gothic Eglise Collegiale, built in the 12th Century with precious frescoes and with the Baroque St-Clement Chapel:

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We found that the quality of the artistic items presented in most of Saint Paul galleries - is high-end.

A picture in one of the Rue Grande galleries south to the Town Hall Square:

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Rue Grande - ceramics in one of the galleries:

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We DO NOT CONTINUE along Rue Grande until its most northern end (it leads back to the Saint Paul Tourist Office). We, already, turned right from Rue Grande, through to the Place de Mairie (Town Hall Square) to Montée de l'Eglise. The L'Eglise Collégiale (La Collegiale de la Conversion de St-Paul) (Collegiale Church) is on our left (dimly lit inside). Masses are celebrated on Sunday in the late afternoon.

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Turn left onto Rue du Saint-Esprit, 40 m.

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Turn left onto Rue de Derrière l'Église, 15 m.

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Head north on Rue de Derrière l'Église toward Rue de la Pourtoune
30 m.  Turn right onto Rue des Verdalettes, 20 m. We change direction again. We are heading SOUTHWARD along Rue des Verdalettes when the ramparts are on our left and we see magnificent views beyond the walls (to the east):

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Walk 50 m. south along Rue des Verdalettes until it meets the Rue de l’Allée (on your right). Here stands the past house of poet Jacques Prevert. Jacques Prévert discovered Saint-Paul de Vence in 1941, drawn to the French Riviera by his screenwriting when the Victorine Film Studios in Nice were in full swing. He settled in La Résidence (now the Café de la Place), which at the time was a village inn, before crossing the square to hang his hat in the Colombe d'Or. Paul Roux, owner of the Colombe d'Or, Prévert and Pablo Picasso formed a trio of very good friends; many collages by Prévert still decorate the walls of the famous inn. Other celebrities from the movie industry followed Prévert to the village, including film makers Henri-Georges Clouzot and André Cayatte. After the war, Jacques Prévert and his wife Janine rented La Miette, a small house in the centre of the village, before moving into L'Ormeau, a property on the edge of the village, until the mid 1950s.

L'Ormeau - Home of poet Jacques Prevert on the Rue de l’Allée. The house still stands today, framed by thick lashings of bougainvillea and climbing ivy:

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Head SOUTH on Rue des Verdalettes toward Rue du Saint-Esprit, 15 m. Continue onto Rue du Fangas, 190 m. Continue onto Cour Tine Sainte-Claire, 70 m. Turn right to stay on Cour Tine Sainte-Claire, 10 m. With our face to the south - we see again the marvelous sights of the Alpes-Maritimes and Saint Paul Cemetery. Nearby is the other gate to the city (southern Gate), Nice Gate (Porte de Nice), from the 14th century:

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We retrace our steps and browse, now, several local museums and/or exhibitions. We return to the north side of the village - by crossing, again, Saint Paul village from south to north - via Rue Grande. Head northwest on Rue Grande toward Rue du Casse Cou, 180 m. Slight right onto Descente de la Castre, 25 m. Turn right to stay on Descente de la Castre
7 m. Turn left onto Place de la Mairie, 35 m. Turn right onto Montée de la Castre, 20 m. n the center of the village, opposite the church we find the Musée d'Histoire Locale, 2 Montée de la Castre. It Includes wax figures in period costumes. Open: daily; mid JUN - mid SEP: 10.00 - 19.00; mid SEP - mid JUN: 10.00 -17.30. Closed: mid NOV - mid DEC.

We continue northward along Rue Grande until its most northern end which is exactly where the Tourist Office and the Saint Paul Municipal Museum reside. Musée Municipal Musée de Saint-Paul - 2 rue Grande
Open every day. From 1 JUN to 30 SEP: 10.00 to 19.00. From 1 OCT to 31 MAY: 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. Free entrance. Contains exhibits by contemporary artists. closed: 15 NOV - 15 DEC.

In the Tourist Office (2nd floor) we saw temporary exhibition (maybe permanent ?) of "75 years of Cinema" of stars who lived in Saint Paul de Vence:

Yves Montand:

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Paul Newman:

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Yul Brynner:

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In case you have time and energy to visit the Fondation Maeght (outside of Saint Paul de Vence - on the main road back to Nice) - it is 650-700 m. walk to this contemporary museum. Otherwise - walk back through Porte Vence, Café de la Place and Hotel La Colombe d'Or - back to the 400 bus to Nice (on the other side of the highway !).

Head northeast on Rue de la Prison toward Rue de la Tour, 10 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Tour, 15 m. Slight right to stay on Rue de la Tour, 25 m. Slight left toward Route de Vence, 80 m. Slight right onto Route de Vence, 75 m. Turn left onto Chemin des Gardettes (Nice-Vence highway),
450 m and on your left (west) (steep climb) is the Fondation Maeght, 623 Chemin des Gardettes. Located just outside the village on the La Colle road (Chemin des Gardettes), then up the side road at the first bend (a modern sculpture is at the junction). This museum is world-renowned, and deserves the reputation. The collection of 20th-century paintings, sculptures and ceramics is extensive and excellent, and the museum setting, inside and outside, is beautiful: It has a nice space with green lawns, fountains and a shaded area. Open: daily; OCT - JUN: 10.00 - 12.30, 14.30 - 18.00; JUL - SEP: 10.00 - 19.00. Prices: 15 (!!!) euros. Extra 5 Euros - for taking photos (even outdoors). We do recommend the site but NOT the exhibitions. Pricey. sparse. 4 or 5 masterpieces. Very nice surrounding and gardens. Nice piece of architecture. The building was designed by the Spanish architect Josep Lluís Ser and is spectacular. Inside - there are changing, temporary exhibitions. Pleasant to see all modern art works OUTSIDE and... no more ! We think the site is for modern art enthusiasts. Better, head to Vence.

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Giacometti sculptures:

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Juan Miro - Labyrinth:

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