Alpes-Maritimes (06570) Population: 2,903 Altitude: 180 m
Also known as St. Paul-de-Vence, which is handy, since there are nine other "St. Paul"s in France and a slew of St. Paul-de-somewhere's.
St. Paul is a beautiful medieval fortified village perched on a narrow spur between two deep valleys. 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.
Although the village itself is one of the most intact medieval examples of the region, with much of the ramparts still there, it's hard to see anything inside the village except other tourists. "Off season", the village is full of tourists. During the summer and holidays, the village is so packed with tourists that they walk shoulder-to-shoulder through the narrow streets. 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.
Vence, 3 km up the road, is also beautiful, more relaxed, has more realistic shops and art galleries, and fine terrace cafés.
Tourrettes-sur-Loup, another 3 km west of Vence, is small and picturesque like St. Paul, but with far fewer tourists, and the artisanal shops there are run by the artists themselves.
The Russian born painter Mark Chagall is buried in the Saint Paul-de-Vence cemetery. At the entrance, take the first right and the next left. Chagall has a simple white tomb. The small stones are added by visitors as tributes (from a Russian and Jewish tradition).
History of Saint Paul-de-Vence
First record, 11th century: Castrum Sancti Pauli
Medieval: 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.
June - Feux de la St Jean (fireworks)
Dec - Marché de la Truffe - Truffle Market
• GPS: 43.698644, 7.121866
IGN (1/25,000) #3643 ET "Cannes, Grasse, Côte d'Azur"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #26 "Pay d'Azur"
There's no real hiking here, but some country walks can be nice.
• The walk along the road between St. Paul and Vence is pretty, but summer traffic can be annoying.
• There is one trail going down into the valley, from near the new parking lot at the north end of the village; you can either go down and back, or continue through the residential roads and up to Vence.
• The small road that goes past the Fondation Maeght goes up through the woods and there's not much traffic there.
- Located just outside the village on the La Colle road, 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: light, running water, trees, shade, grass, nature and peace.
- tel: (33) 493 32 81 63
- Open: daily; Oct-June: 10h -12h30, 14h30-18h; July-Sept: 10h-19h
Musée d'Histoire Locale
- In the center of the village, opposite the church
- Includes wax figures in period costumes
- tel: (33) 493 32 53 09
- Open: daily; mid-June--mid-Sept: 10h-19h; mid-Sept--mid-June: 10h-17h30; closed: mid-Nov--mid-Dec.
- Located just inside the village, on the Rue Grande
- Contains exhibits by contemporary artists.
- tel: (33) 493 32 86 96
- Open: daily; mid-June--mid-Sept: 10h-19h; mid-Sept--mid-June: 10h-12h, 14h-18h; closed: mid-Nov--mid-Dec.