Way back in December a few friends and I visited the village of St. Paul de Vence. St. Paul is accessible by bus or car, and came highly recommended to me by every professor and family I work with here in the south of France. St. Paul de Vence offers more than a thousand years of history, and the village’s ramparts date back to 1538. In more recent years, Saint Paul has been home to film sets, artists, and writers. The Tourist Office offers guided tours for those interested in a detailed history.
We arrived in St. Paul de Vence village on a sunny afternoon, and after spending an inordinate amount of time in L’Occitane, set off to see what all the hype is about. The main road into the village opens up to a square dominated by pétanque courts and cafés. The courts are home to a tiny morning market where we met a lovely German woman selling delicious homemade tea cakes.
From here we made our way up into the winding streets of the village, stopping for photos practically every few feet. Visiting during the offseason meant that many of the restaurants and shops were closed, but we had the opportunity to stop in several shops that were still open. The village is home to countless art galleries of all different styles. A stop at Le Chalet St. Paulois for une pause gourmande was also in order. No one can pass up crêpes!
The village is small enough that a few hours are more than enough to take in the beauty and history. Aside from the art galleries and local shops, there are a few other must-see attractions.
The Lacan cannon, used in battle in Piedmont in the 1500s, is sealed in the wall just before the entrance to the village.
Once you’ve gone through the main entrance, walking the walls around the village offers beautiful views of the surrounding hills and mountains.
At the center, in La Place de la Grande Fontaine, you’ll find the famed fountain built by Melchior in 1615.
While in St. Paul de Vence you can also visit the final resting place of Marc Chagall. Bring a sharpie if you want to leave a message on a rock like hundreds of visitors before you!
You’ll find ramparts, churches, bell towers, and Provençal homes covered in ivy and flowers in St. Paul de Vence as well; a picture perfect village on the Côte d’Azur.