Friday, 23 September 2011 04:03

Saint Paul de Vence - A Favourite Destination for Artists

Written by  Ken Ku
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Saint Paul de Vence Saint Paul de Vence Ken Ku

Saint Paul de Vence has a rich history going back all the way to 120BC!  However, this fortified village is best known for the artists that visited during the early 20th century during the Impressionism era.  It was a favourite spot for Picasso, Matisse, and other contemporary artists.  Marc Chagall even lived here from 1966 to 1985 where during this time, he incorporated the village and the ramparts into many of his paintings.

I first heard of this place earlier in the week when I was chatting with a local man, Manu, during happy hour at the hostel bar.  He asked me if I had any specific plans while I was in Nice and I honestly didn't know.  All I knew at the time was I wanted to go scuba diving, take some photos, and maybe visit a beach or two.  I also told him that I studied art and immediately he told me that I'd have to visit Saint Paul de Vence.  Afterwards, I did some research into the location and realized that this is one day trip I had to make.  Not only because Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, and others went before, but also it was a chance to visit an ancient fortified village.  How cool would that be?

So today Jamie and I packed our cameras and caught the tram towards the city centre to catch the #400 bus towards Vence.  It is about an hour ride to Vence.  The stop to get off is Saint Paul de Vence.  Instead, we got off at Village which I would say is a good five kilometres away.  Good thing we weren't pressed for time and there really isn't any way to get lost so we just hiked our way up to Saint Paul.  It was such a beautiful day to be stuck inside a bus anyways.  Along the way, we passed a cemetery and went inside to take look and pay our respects.

Once we arrived at the village we just decided to wander as many of the narrow corridors as we can.  It wasn't possible to get lost inside since there we would be walled in.  No matter what we would still be in the village.  It wasn't hard to find our way around.  We ventured inside a random art gallery and inside there hung a Matisse, a Warhol, and a Lichtenstein.  All along the paths there were sculptures and fountains.  Artists have their studios and workshops along the streets in Saint Paul and hundreds of people milled about in the narrow streets.

We spent hours just wandering around looking at shops and enjoying the delicious smells wafting through the air although didn't buy anything to eat.  It was just a tad too expensive.  We joked about the fact that there was an American diner in one of the alleys but no one patronized.  A burger was 22€!  It has to be one of the most expensive diner burger I've ever seen.  After a while, we both wanted to live in Saint Paul ourselves.  There is such a serenity about this place despite the fact that more than an estimated 7000 tourists visit a day visit!  There are parts of the village that is relative quiet though.  I wouldn't mind living there.  Plus in the evenings on weekdays the bus stops running to Nice at 7pm.  So make sure to plan your day, you wouldn't want to be stuck in Saint Paul de Vence without a way back to Nice unless you plan to stay the night!

Last modified on Friday, 23 September 2011 05:01
Ken Ku

Ken Ku

A photographer/printmaker/perpetual wanderer going on a backpacking adventure around the world.  Follow my journey as I discover new places and meet new people!



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