Visit Saint Paul de Vence during your yacht charter in the South of France
Step back in time visiting this charming village in the South of France during your luxury yacht charter this summer!
Saint Paul de Vence, inspiration for painters
Saint Paul de Vence is perched between the Col de Vence pass and the Mediterranean Sea and offers magnificent views, a scene that has inspired many a painter, charmed by those Provençal colors. Modigliani, Matisse, Soutine and Utrillo fell under the spell of the light in this medieval town and committed those stunning views to canvas.
Whether you are an art lover, are fascinated by the history of the region, or enjoy having lunch outdoors with a view, Saint Paul de Vence has it all. Your captain will anchor your yacht in Antibes or Cagnes sur Mer and after a delicious breakfast on deck, your crew will bring you to shore to meet your private driver for the day. The journey to Saint Paul de Vence is beautiful and your driver will stop at the best lookout points to give you a chance to take pictures of the view and each other! At the entrance to the village, in the shade of the big plane trees, the famous Place du jeu de boules, immortalized by the pétanque games of actors Lino Ventura and Yves Montand, is always a must-see. Place De Gaulle is the beating heart of Saint-Paul de Vence. This gateway into the village is known as the “boules pitch” and is a truly legendary square for all pétanque players. It is so famous that one letter addressed to the mayor of “Saint-Paul-les-Boules” and another to the mayor of “Saint-Boules-des-Frances” made it to Saint-Paul de Vence anyway! Your chief stewardess can set you up with a private instructor to teach you how to play at the world’s most famous pitch, while mastering all the lingo. The Café de la Place stands on one side of this square and its terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the laidback atmosphere. The famous Colombe d’Or is on the other side and its regulars included the greatest artists of the 20th century, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso all hung out here. The square remains unchanged today, nestling between the city walls and the washhouse. Local washerwomen would have seen scores of artists at this famous inn’s terrace, such as Matisse, who would sit at a table under the fig tree.
Follow the walls of Saint Paul de Vence and get lost in its streets
Follow the city walls, climbing towards the village, and enter by the Porte de Vence. Endowed with these ramparts during the Renaissance in order to withstand Charles Quint’s army, Saint-Paul de Vence still has some traces of its eventful past. The old stone houses on narrow side streets neighbor grand arcades and winding flights of steps lead to an old fountain whose peaceful babbling song creates a soothing atmosphere. Here you will experience that typical French tranquil feeling the southern villages are known for. The fountain at the heart of the village fills Saint Paul’s medieval vaults with music. To quote the poet Verlaine: “The fountain’s silvery murmur plays on.”
The streets of Saint Paul de Vence were bare until the beginning of the 1950s, when Mayor Marius Issert had them laid with cobbles positioned on their sides in the Provencal tradition. These first cobbles came from the beach at Cagnes sur Mer, where you might have departed from this morning!
In the Middle Ages, Saint Paul became an important border stronghold. The Counts of Provence administered the region and granted several privileges to Saint Paul. The ramparts were erected and two of the original towers can still be seen today, the Porte de Vence and the Tour de l’Esperon.
Saint Paul de Vence, the home of artists
In the 19th century, the hills were covered with flowers, vines and olive trees. As the 20th century dawned, the village’s brown stone, the colors of the countryside and the light of the South of France attracted painters to Saint Paul de Vence. The artists enjoyed the company of Paul Roux, a many facetted resident of Saint-Paul. Roux was a painter, an art collector and the owner of the Robinson, which was renamed the Colombe d’Or in 1932. The walls of the Colombe d’Or are still adorned with the paintings of these painters, even today. Many others followed in their footsteps, including Matisse and Picasso who would call in to see their neighbors in Saint-Paul, the former from Vence, the latter from Vallauris and Cannes.
Through the 20th century, actors, artists and writers made Saint-Paul into a bubbling cultural center. Some simply passed through, others decided to settle. Each in their own way marked the village. The 1950s and ’60s were the village’s Golden Age. Saint-Paul became an amazing film set, hosting French and foreign movie stars drawn to the French Riviera by the Victorine film studios in Nice and by the Cannes Film Festival.
Stop in front of a few of the region’s renowned art galleries in order to contemplate the colorful works of art, a wonderful reflection of Provence’s rich heritage. A walk to the village center is a good idea in order to visit the collegiate church. Here you can admire a magnificent painting of Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Tintoretto, along with a beautiful Way of the Cross in walnut wood.
The Maeght Foundation
Be sure to visit the Maeght Foundation, one of the renowned attractions of this village. This bastion of modern art houses one of the most important collections of sculptures, etchings and paintings of the 20th century, including work by Marc Chagall, Pierre Bonnard and Fernand Léger. A walk in its garden dotted with sculptures is a must, as is a trip to the patio, where a sumptuous mosaic pool in Georges Braques’ unmistakable style has pride of place.
The farmers' market of Saint Paul de Vence
If you plan your visit on Wednesday or Friday, you will be able to stroll the small scale farmers’ market held on the Place du Jeu de Boules in the morning. You can bring some of the tastes and savors of the Mediterranean back on board, fresh fruit, vegetables, jams, charcuterie, cheese, honey and aromatic herbs for your chef to work his magic! The attractive artisanal soaps offered at the market make for great souvenirs for your loved ones at home and of course for yourself.
Before leaving Saint Paul de Vence, enjoy a glass of the local wine with your loved ones on one of the many terraces while taking in the sights, sounds and scents of this beautiful town. When the driver carefully masters the winding hilly roads back to the coast and you have an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean Sea, you might be able to spot your beautiful yacht, patiently waiting to welcome you back onboard!
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