St Paul de Vence - Exquisite beauty on the hill
Today we are going to travel a bit down South to the Cote d'Azur. It's Winter vacation currently and I'm dreaming of summer and travel, so I wanted to share a bit from a trip in the summer of 2015. We spent a week on the Cote d'Azur and explored the surrounding area. It has such a different feel than the Southwest where we live. This is one of the beautiful hill villages located just to the North.
St Paul de Vence is probably the most well known hill villages of the Côte d'Azur mostly due to its association with some of the world's greatest artists. Over the years names such as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and many more have either lived here or been inspired by it. The town has one of the best private modern art collections in the world, the Maeght Foundation, and nowadays the whole village is full of art galleries and studios. It's an art lovers paradise and it's truly beautiful, a sight to be seen. The narrow lanes are perfectly cobble paved and every building is renovated and maintained to a high standard. The downside to this is that it gets very crowded, especially in the summer.
St Paul (as it's known locally without the Vence) is one of the oldest medieval villages on the French Riviera and its ramparts, constructed in 1540 under Francois 1eme, are still pretty much fully intact. In the Middle Ages this village produced wine, olives, oranges and figs but this declined over the years until the twentieth century when numerous well-known artists made it their home base.
It was a beautiful winding drive into the hills and we arrived to park our car in a lot on the outskirts of town and then we walked into the village. I loved the local feel, the relaxed atmosphere of the residents, some of whom were planning a game of petanque.
As we walked past, I was taken by a lovely sculpture garden just sitting to the right near the church. I loved the cat and the girl sitting on the globe. Each of them unique in their own right, and there was beauty in the juxtaposition of the old medieval buildings and these modern sculptures.
We started wandering down the main street. I love the warmth of the stone and the narrow cobble paved street. You can see from the photos that it's now shop after shop after gallery all open for visitors. I found many of the gallery very original and beautiful Truly a mecca of lots of artistic talent housed in this little village.
The village is kept up beautifully and the flowers, fountains, plants and trees all add to this beauty of an oasis located high in the hill tops.
I loved this sign - which translates to I create, I make it and I sell it (in my studio). Such a great philosophy for inspiration and motivation.
As we walked the length of the village we found ourselves exiting out along the medieval ramparts to see the beauty of the hills and the mountains that surround us. It is truly breathtaking.
We wandered back between the village and the outer wall, spying beautiful gates, stairs and narrow walkways. It's a vibrant, thriving village, full of life, art and stunning medieval architecture.
At the end of the wonderful warm afternoon in the shade of an Olive tree, we enjoyed some delicious ice cream. The flavor - one specifically unique to this area - Lavender and yes, was it divine!!
So if you are traveling around France, the Cote d'Azur is not to be missed and especially driving up into the hill villages. Are you ready to book your vacation yet? I know I'm looking forward to returning soon.