Saint-Paul de Vence, this charming village perched between the Col de Vence and the Mediterranean offers magnificent panoramas to its visitors.
A medieval city
On the sea side, the unobstructed view stretches as far as Cap d’Antibes: a picture that inspired more than one painter charmed by these Provençal colours. Modigliani, Matisse, Soutine or even Utrillo were seduced by the light of this medieval city and placed these impregnable viewpoints on their easels. At the entrance to the village, in the shade of tall plane trees, the famous boules square, immortalized by the petanque games of Lino Ventura and Yves Montand, remains a must.
A rich past
Endowed with bastioned ramparts during the Renaissance to resist the army of Charles V, Saint-Paul-de-Vence still reveals its rich past. The old stone houses bordered by narrow cobbled streets border large arcades, winding staircases and an old fountain rocking the place with its peaceful song, like the quiet villages of the South. Here are some of the places to see in Saint Paul de Vence :
Maeght Foundation :
The Maeght Foundation is one of the most well-known and renowned art museums in the South of France, as well as one of the largest collections of paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphic works by modern and contemporary artists in Europe, with more than 13,000 works. An appreciation of modern art is not essential: the architecture and the wide variety of canvases and images are stunning in themselves, as are the beautiful gardens and the water basin.
Le Donjon du vieux chateau (12th-14th centuries) :
only the keep remains today, the fortress having been gradually demolished. At the top is a bell cast in 1443 which punctuated the life of the village.
La Colombe d’Or
Located at the entrance of the village in front of the gate of the ramparts, La Colombe d’Or has a very special character, highlighted by the mixture of foliage and art that adorns its patio. The restaurant owner was a patron of the arts; artists often came here and traded their work for a few meals – today making the restaurant a veritable art museum. The walls These delightful ramparts were built in the 16th century by François I during the period of the Italian wars. It is possible to do almost the entire roundabout by walking directly on the ramparts. Be careful though, because there are no guardrails.
To visit this chapel is to discover the admirable work designed by Jean-Michel Folon. It is also an invitation to get to know this artist who has forged ties with Saint-Paul for more than thirty years. The close relationships that Folon maintained with craftsmen, his conception of stained glass and sculpture, his fascination for light, are all keys that allow us to decipher his universe and his conception of art. The decoration of the Chapel of the White Penitents is the last achievement of Jean-Michel Folon, who died in 2005, but also the last chapel of artists from the southern Mediterranean. Immerse yourself in the world of Jean-Michel Folon by discovering the shop area of the Chapelle Folon: postcards, sketchbooks, posters… .
Godet Perfume House
Don’t leave rue Grande without going through the door of this unique place. Sonia Godet embodies with charm and generosity a family know-how and a history of perfumer closely linked to art. Since its origins, the Godet Perfume House has associated its creations with those of great artists, friends of the perfumer. In 1908, Julien Joseph Godet created “Fleur de reine” for Bonnard’s wife and in 1925, “Folie Bleue” for Henri Matisse’s muse.
Place de la Grande Fontaine
Reorganized in the 17th century and then in the 19th century, this square was the heart of the village’s entertainment, at any time of the day. Saint-Paul residents came here to stock up on water, donkeys and mules quenched their thirst there, while washerwomen came to beat and wash clothes in the washhouse. It was on this square that the market was organized in the 17th century, once a week.