Saint Paul de Vence is a charming fortified hilltop village in Provence, filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. It's hard to find something ugly about this quaint village. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into nooks in the walls. There are breathtaking views of mountains and sea. Even the ground below is attractive, as the cobblestones are laid into the shapes of flowers.
The only downside to visiting Saint Paul is that you won't be alone. This is a bit of a tourist trap, and can be overrun at times (300 people live within the fortified walls, but 2.5 million tourists visit annually). The other problem is it isn't the easiest town to get to, as it isn't accessible by rail. But don't fret! My Before You Go guide below includes detailed explanations for accessing the village.
The fortified village itself is a site, with its medieval fortress walls surrounding the city. The entrance was erected in the 1400s, and features a cannon muzzle which was a trophy from the 1544 Battle of Cerisoles in Italy.
As you walk through the village, be sure to look up so you don't miss some of the artwork embedded in the walls. This includes religious statues and various other adornments.
Walk towards the south side of the village and climb the steps to the "vue" (view), which overlooks a gorgeous cemetery, surrounding hills and mountains. At Bastion St Remy on the west side, glimpse the sea. In Saint Paul, you can see the snow-covered Alps to one side, and the gistening Mediterranean Sea the other direction.
You can hardly take a few steps in Saint Paul without happening on an art gallery . Even if you aren't ready to spend money on original artwork or prints, it is simply enjoyable to gaze at the various works.
As an artists' village, it is also filled with more affordable artwork in the form of various crafts. The costume jewelry on sale at many of the shops is quite affordable and unique. There are interesting and creative knick-knacks for decorating your home throughout the town.
You can also find a variety of Provencal fabrics on sale, as well as local gourmet delicacies like olive oils, wine and fruit liquors.
Office de tourisme de Saint Paul de Vence
2, Rue Grande- 06570 Saint Paul
Tél +33(4) 93 32 86 95 - Fax +33(4) 93 32 60 27