One of the prettiest and best preserved of all the medieval villages in the South of France, Saint-Paul-de-Vence sits upon a hilltop near Vence behind heavily fortified walls, with breathtaking views across the land sloping down to the sea. You can either take the hour-long number 400 bus ride to the village from Nice (note, don't get on the 410, which will take you straight to the nearby town of Vence), or take the train to Cagnes sur Mer where you can join the 400 bus running from Nice for the last 15 minutes of the journey uphill. If you are driving and using GPS, be aware that the official name of the village is actually Saint-Paul; the 'de-Vence' is just a widely-used affectation.
There are some very good restaurants in the tiny village of Saint-Paul- no less than 7 restaurants are mentioned in the Michelin guide (although none are presently starred.) For a wonderfully atmospheric meal, call into La Colombe d'Or to enjoy excellent Provencal cuisine surrounded by artworks by famous artists who have stayed here (and often paid their board in paintings). With works by Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Matisse lining the walls, this fancy hotel restaurant has art history credentials in droves.
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While the thick ramparts, old city gates and narrow pretty streets are probably the village's greatest attraction, there are definitely other things worth seeing in St Paul. If you're an art-lover, don't miss Fondation Maeght, the beautiful world-class modern art museum just outside the village. There's also a local history museum and a contemporary art museum in the village. There are two lovely churches: La Chapelle de Penitents Blancs has a wonderful mural by Belgian artist Folon, and the La Collegiale de la Conversion de St-Paul has a Romanesque choir area dating back to the 11th century. You can visit also the cemetery where local resident artist Mark Chagall is buried; you can join the Russo-Jewish tradition and add small white stones to the pile there.
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Things to Do nearby
The tourist office provides guided tours of the village in a variety of languages during the summer. The main market is on Wednesday morning, with local produce markets open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays. Saturday morning also sees a flower and plant market at the entrance to the village. There is a small winemaking community that has cultivated some of the surrounding land, and small quantities of rather good Côte de Provence wine are produced here each year- you can take a tour of the vineyard and taste the wine.
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St Paul-de-Vence is above the coast; your closest beach is at Cagnes-sur-Mer.
Also see: Beaches in Nice, France
The closest golf course to St-Paul-de-Vence is the 9 hole course at Villeneuve-Loubet, but there are also some seriously good options within 10-15 kms drive, at Opio, Mougins and Grasse. See our Golfing Pages for more details.
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While there aren't any nightclubs in the village and it's quite quiet at night in the winter months, there's lots going on in the summer: classical concerts up on the rampart walls, bonfires in the streets, and an endless procession of buskers making their rounds as you sit drinking wine in the twilight as the sun sets on the Riviera below. There's also the bar/hotel/pub La Vague de Saint Paul, which has jazz and tapas nights.
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