5 Unexpected Ways to Explore the Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Taking a leisurely walk through the charming streets of the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a truly special experience. Perched atop a hill in Southern Provence, this village has all the quintessential features, narrow cobbled alleys, old buildings, cosy squares, arched passageways, and ancient fountains. I had the pleasure of visiting this village during a southern provence road trip, and the picturesque surroundings added an extra layer of charm. But what really makes the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence stand out is its unmistakable artistic character, evident at every turn.

Beautiful stone houses

Discover the charms of Saint-Paul-de-Vence through these five unique facets:

  • 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 

Initially, I wasn’t actively seeking out sculptures, but upon approaching the entrance of the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, near Place De Gaulle, a striking greenish-blue sculpture immediately caught my eye. Meandering along the narrow streets, I unexpectedly stumbled upon Luc Trizan’s sculpture—an unfinished stone masterpiece seamlessly integrated into an aged letterbox.

As it turns out, the village is renowned for its sculptures. Many visitors also mentioned “Lucky the Horse,” a fascinating sculpture crafted from 3000 horseshoes located at the western ramparts. The village is dotted with various other pieces of art, waiting to be discovered by curious wanderers.

Sculpture at the entrance of Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Walls around Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

The myriad of art galleries

In the art village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, you’ll discover not only established artists but also budding talents showcasing their works. Behind the windows, visitors can explore an array of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, glass, and crystal, crafted by both emerging and renowned artists alike.

Beyond the common artworks, the art of scents holds a distinctive place in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Maison de Parfums Godet on Rue Grande is the ideal destination to tantalize your nostrils. This establishment showcases a century of craftsmanship, where every perfume product is meticulously handmade—from the fragrance itself to the artisanal perfume bottles.

art gallery in Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Shops along the narrow street in Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Traces of the artists in the village

In the early 20th century, luminaries like Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Modigliani, and more, chose Saint-Paul-de-Vence as their haven. Their presence turned the village into a magnet for artisans, film directors, writers, and international celebrities, solidifying its reputation as an artists’ paradise.

Traces of these artistic giants are scattered throughout. For instance, the 17th-century Chapel of White Penitents (La Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs), meticulously restored and decorated in the early 21st century by the Belgian artist Jean-Michele Folon, stands as a testament to this legacy.

Notably, Marc Chagall, born into a traditional Jewish family in Belarus and exiled from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, called the village home from 1966 to 1985. During those years, he painted the local landscapes. Today, he rests in the village’s small and intimate cemetery, surrounded by Cyprus and palm trees, overlooking the gentle ocean of the Cote d’Azur through the picturesque Provence countryside.

Rue Grande
cemetery where Marc Chagall is buried

Artistic hotels

Both La Miette and La Colombre D’Or, now hotels and holiday homes, were once the residences of numerous renowned artists.

La Colombe D’Or

La Colombe D’Or was once the gathering spot for artists like Miro, Braque, Calder, Cesar, and many more. It also witnessed the budding romance between French film stars Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. The walls of this historic hotel are adorned with paintings by renowned artists such as Picasso and Matisse, who exchanged their masterpieces for food, drink, and camaraderie.

La Miette

Jacques Prévert discovered this charming village while working on screenplays during the height of activity at the Victorine Film Studios in Nice in 1941. He relocated to La Miette with his wife, teamed up with Paul Roux, the proprietor of La Colombe d’Or, and Pablo Picasso. Eventually, the couple found a new residence on the outskirts of the village.

The building sits at the edge of the village. It has a beautiful facade covered with a climbing plant, making it one of the picturesque gems in this idyllic settlement.

La Miette; Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence
narrow street in the Art Village Of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Exhibitions from the Maeght Foundation

Established 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 with a great collection of valuable art works.

Excited to explore, we were particularly eager to view pieces by Vassily Kandinsky, whose works our child had been studying in school. Unfortunately, on that particular day, we couldn’t see Kandinsky’s creations as the foundation periodically rotates its collection displays.

Nevertheless, our visit proved to be both entertaining and educational. The sculpture garden right at the entrance, showcased a dynamic selection of works by various artists. The Giacometti courtyard emerged as a highlight, featuring an exceptional ensemble of sculptures, including the Miró labyrinth and a whimsical mechanical fountain designed by Pol Bury. Two rooftop terraces provided spectacular views, offering a panorama of the foundation complex.

 sculpture garden at teh entrance of Maeght Foundation
the Building of Maeght Foundation

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, a charming holiday home, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms complete with a shower and bath, a cosy seating area, and a well-equipped kitchen featuring a dishwasher. For added convenience, the property offers towels and bed linen for an additional fee.

At Hotel Le Saint Paul, indulge in delightful Mediterranean cuisine served in the dining room, decorated with a 17th-century fountain. Guests can also relish the picturesque setting on the south-facing, flowered terrace, perfect for al fresco dining.

How to get there

Saint-Paul-de-Vence makes for an ideal day trip from Nice, and reaching it is convenient through various means of transportation.

By Bus: Hop on Bus 400 at Nice Airport, which takes you directly to Saint-Paul-de-Vence. If you’re heading to Maeght Foundation, get off one stop earlier. The entire journey covers 31 stops.

By Car: For a more flexible option, take the A8 route from Nice and switch to M336 at Cagnes-sur-Mer. The scenic drive takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the charming village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

Join a tour

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most frequented villages in France. Numerous tours provide the opportunity to explore this charming village alongside other renowned destinations. Browse through the available trips to discover the one that aligns with your preferences.

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