A picturesque medieval town with panoramic views, St. Paul de Vence is quintessential Provence and one of the most loved hilltop villages in the South of France. Visitors come from far and wide to stroll the winding streets, relax in the charming cafés, and soak up the bright sunshine.
The village of St. Paul de Vence has existed for more than 1,000 years, built on a hilltop site to ensure the safety of its residents all those years ago. In the Middle Ages, it was an important border stronghold for the Counts of Provence, and ramparts were built around the town. In the 19th century, the village’s location, golden light, and beautiful surroundings attracted painters from across France, and an artist’s colony developed. Well-known artists who lived here include Paul Signac, Raoul Dufy, and Marc Chagall, and Matisse and Picasso were frequent visitors.
Modern-day life in the village has not changed too much, with weekly markets, welcoming cafés and bistros, and chic galleries selling works by local artists. Art aficionados visit Chagall’s tomb in the town cemetery. For many travelers, a trip to St. Paul—often as part of a small-group or private guided tour out of Nice or Cannes—is an essential part of any Provence vacation.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The village has some steep streets and staircases that are not suitable for people with limited mobility.
- Market day is Wednesday, and you’ll find the market in Place du Jeu de Boules.
- Choisy Gallerie is a popular place to visit, and sometimes you can find artist Christian Choisy himself at work.
How to Get There
St. Paul de Vence is located 8 miles (12 kilometers) from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. Take bus 400 from the airport, or drive and park in town. Guided tours with transportation also frequent the village.
When to Get There
Most shops and galleries in St. Paul de Vence are open seven days a week except for major holidays. While the summer months are busiest, the French Riviera gets almost 300 days of sunshine per year with pleasant temperatures year-round.
Visit the Matisse Museum
If you’re inspired by your visit to St. Paul and want to learn more about the art produced in this area, head to the Matisse Museum in Nice. It houses one of the largest collections of the artist’s work in the world, and you can see Matisse’s iconic, colorful works and learn more about his artistic process.