To wander the streets in the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a delightful thing to do. Being a hilltop village in Southern Provence, Saint-Paul-de-Vence has typical features such as the narrow cobbled-alleys, old buildings, small squares, arched passageways, and ancient fountains, etc. However, what makes it stand out are the artistic characters of the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
As we strolled through the streets of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, we discovered galleries and studios between the narrow alleys, artworks from artists along the walkways, restaurants frequent by artists. We spent further two hours at the Maeght Foundation, which is just a short distance away from the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. During our road trip in southern Provence, it was a crazy day for us to immerse ourselves in the artistic atmosphere.
Let’s get to know the art village Saint-Paul-de-Vence in five ways:
- A village highlighted by sculptures
- The myriad of art galleries
- Traces of the artists in the village
- Artistic hotels
- Exhibitions from the Maeght Foundation
A village highlighted by sculptures
In the beginning, I was not seeking any sculpture intentionally. But right at the entrance of the art village Saint-Paul-de-Vence, near Place De Gaulle, I spotted a sculpture in a greenish-blue colour. Then, as I walked along the narrow streets, Luc Trizan’s sculpture also prompted into my sight. It was an unfinished stone sculpture integrated into an old letterbox.
In fact, the village is well-known for sculptures. Many visitors also mention the Lucky the horse, a sculpture made from 3000 horseshoes at the western ramparts. There are more pieces of art scattering in the village as well.
The myriad of art galleries
The myriad of art galleries hides amongst the village winding, narrow pebbled alleys. One such street is the beautiful Rue Grande. Luc Trizan’s studio is at 12 Rue Grande. Di Allure Art (53 Rue Grande) is a place for renowned artists from the Republic of Macedonia and around the world. A little further down the street, Galerie Otéro (81 Rue Grande) presents a diversity of artworks. It is a place where art and life are intimately mixed.
In the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, you can also see novice artists presenting their works. Behind the windows, visitors can find the artworks, such as paintings, sculptures, glass, crystal from recognized artists.
In addition to those common artworks, the art of scents also occupies a unique presence. Perfumes in the Maison de Parfums Godet on Rue Grande is the perfect spot to tantalize your nostrils. The place demonstrates a century of craftsmanship. Their perfume products are entirely handmade, from the perfume itself, handmade perfume bottles, to the handcrafted boxes in lovely designs.
Traces of the artists in the village
In the early 20th century, many artists, such as Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Modigliani, etc., made Saint-Paul-de-Vence their home. Since then, the village attracted artisans, film directors, writers, and international celebrities to spend time there, promoting its reputation as a paradise for artists.
Here and there, you can see the traces of the artists. The Chapel of White Penitents (La Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs) from the 17th century was restored and decorated at the beginning of the 21st century by the Belgian artist Jean-Michele Folon.
Marc Chagall, the artist who was born in a traditional Jewish family in Belarus but exiled from the western wall in Jerusalem, lived in the village from 1966 to 1985. In all those years, he painted the local landscapes. Now, he is buried in the village’s small and intimate cemetery surrounded by Cyprus and palm trees, looking to the gentle ocean of the Cote d’Azur through the Provence countryside.
La Colombre D’Or and La Miette are hotel and holiday homes today. But not so long ago, they were the home of many famous artists.
La Colombe D’Or
La Colombe D’Or used to be the meeting point for artists, such as Miro, Braque, Calder, Cesar, and all the others. And, the French film stars Yves Montand and Simone Signoret’s romance also began at the premise of this hotel. The walls are covered with paintings by artists such as Picasso and Matisse, who would gift a picture in exchange for food, drink, etc.
Jacques Prévert discovered this village during his screenwriting when the Victorine Film Studios in Nice was in full swing in 1941. He moved to La Miette with his wife and teamed up with Paul Roux, the owner of the La Colombe d’Or, and Pablo Picasso. Later, the couple moved to another property on the edge of the village.
The building sits at the edge of the village. It has a beautiful facade covered by a climbing plant and is one of the picturerisque spot in the settlement.
Exhibitions from the Maeght Foundation
Created by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, a visionary couple of publishers and art dealers, Maeght Foundation sets in a unique architectural complex. It is France’s first private art institution that has a great collection of valuable art works.
We learned that the foundation has artworks from Vassily Kandinsky. Since our kid was studying his paintings in the school, we thought it would be a great chance to see the real artworks there. Unfortunately, on that day, we were unable to see his artwork since the foundation rotates the collection display.
Nevertheless, we were still impressed by the art collection. Our visit was quite entertaining and educational. In the sculpture garden, after at the entrance, we saw a rotating selection of works from different artists. The Foundation’s highlight includes the Giacometti courtyard. It features an exceptional ensemble of sculptures by many artists, such as the Miró labyrinth and a bubbling mechanical fountain designed by Pol Bury. The two rooftop terraces have spectacular views, including the foundation complex.
Travel tips for the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Where to stay
Both La Miette and Hotel Le Saint Paul are in the village’s centre.
La Miette is a holiday home, including two bedrooms, two bathrooms with a shower and a bath, a seating area, and a kitchen with a dishwasher. The property can provide towels and bed linen for an extra charge.
Hotel Le Saint Paul serves light Mediterranean meals that guests can enjoy in the dining room that has a 17th-century fountain. There is also a south-facing, flowered terrace for al fresco dining.
How to get there
Saint-Paul-de-Vence is the perfect day trip destination from Nice. You can go there by bus, by car, or by joining a tour.
By Bus: Bus 400 from Nice Airport goes direct to Saint-Paul-de-Vence. To Maeght Foundation, get off the bus a stop earlier. The total journey has 31 stops.
By Car: From Nice, drive via A8, and at Cagnes-sur-Mer change to M336, it takes about 30 minutes by car to reach Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
Join a tour
Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most visited villages in France. Many tours offer a visit to this village in combination with other famous places. Take a look at the following trips to find the one that suits your need: