Just a stone’s throw away from Nice lies another gem of this region, the fortified hilltop Medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence. It easily became my favorite village among all the villages around Nice when I first visited it in 2009 and just the same, I fell in love with it all over again during our visit last month.
Due to its popularity among tourists who’d like to get a glimpse of its enigmatic beauty, saying that it is crowded is an understatement. It was the busiest village we’ve visited – both in the summer and winter. I’m surprised that I was able to get photos of some of its meandering alleyways without much people in it (perseverance, patience and quick thumb to take a photo are the key ingredients lol).
Although it is only 30mins drive away from Nice, entering the walls of St Paul de Vence will make you feel like you’re in a completely different country. Gone are the seaside atmosphere of the French Riviera instead, you’re offered a charming and calm mountain village.
You’ll find a lot of high-end art galleries dotted around St Paul de Vence as you explore it on foot. In the 19th century, the village attracted the likes of Picasso to live here due to its beautiful architecture. The famous Colombe d’Or, a cafe bar and hotel at the entrance of the village offered free stays to artists in exchange of their art work. The art collection has grown year after year and now adorns the hotel itself.
While its history is not very rich, I still enjoyed just walking around the whole village and discovering what lies in every turn. My favorite area here would be Place de la Fontaine – a small square which has a large fountain. It is located at the heart of the village and used to be Saint Paul de Vence’s market square. It exudes so much charm that it somehow captivates you the moment you see it. It’s definitely the most famous instagram spot of St Paul de Vence. 🙂
I regret the fact that we didn’t stay longer in this village when we visited it, I would’ve loved to have a meal in one of its restaurants overlooking the greenery surrounding it.
A day trip to Saint Paul de Vence from Nice is definitely a must, it’s an absolute gem that you shouldn’t miss.
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