Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Saint Paul de Vence is a French commune located in the department of Alpes-Maritimes in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. One of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, it is well known for its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries such as the Fondation Maeght which is located nearby.

The village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence rises on a rocky outcrop located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, to the west of which flows the Malvan, a tributary of the Cagne.

The enclosure of the ramparts encloses the alleys and concentrates a thousand-year-old heritage. Discover traces of the history of men and stones is above all to return to the intimacy of a place. At the heart of the village, the Grande Fontaine brings its musicality to the medieval vaults.

The village of Saint-Paul de Vence hides many treasures inside its ramparts. It is by taking the time to discover them, at the bend of a street, behind a fountain, at the foot of a bastion… Explore the pedestrian center of Saint-Paul de Vence to discover its history and its heritage.

With its hundred-year-old plane trees, it is the place where the people of Saint-Paul like to meet. On this mythical square, Yves Montand and Lino Ventura played contested games of pétanque. It is bordered by the Café de la Place, where it is good to sit down to enjoy the animation and by the famous Colombe d’Or which has hosted the greatest artists of the 20th century: Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Braque, Lightweight, Folon…

The streets of the village, covered with pebbles, constitute a true work of art. The streets of Saint-Paul were dirt. Mayor Marius Issert had them calader in the early 1950s, with pebbles placed on the edge according to Provençal tradition.

Since Antiquity, an town has risen on the Puy plateau, at a time when steep sites were considered safer. Over the centuries, a habitat has gathered around the old church of Saint Michel du Puy and near the castle on the upper part of the hill. Thus was born the “castrum” of Saint-Paul.

Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, the counts of Provence administered the region and granted many privileges to Saint-Paul, which in the 14th century became the capital of an important bailiwick. In 1388, the county of Nice broke away from Provence to join the states of the count of Savoy. The eastern border of Provence is then modified to materialize by the lower course of the Var. This new political context gives Saint-Paul a strategic position: the city becomes a frontier stronghold of the first order.

Walls were erected in the second half of the 14th century, of which two towers are still visible: the Porte de Vence, which has retained its machicolations and the Tour de l’Esperon. It was probably between the 10 and 12 century a habitat gathers around the old church of Saint-Michel-du-Puy in the south and near the castle on the highest part of the hill.

In the Middle Ages, the region was administered by the counts of Provence. In the XIII century, Count Charles II granted more privileges in St. Paul, including the one to hold a weekly market (1285). Early in the XIV century, St. Paul becomes more and more autonomy and becomes a prosperous city merchants and notables. The city becomes the capital of an important bailiwick which Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Villeneuve-Loubet, Broc, Cagnes and Bézaudun depend.

In 1388, Nice and its region broke away from Provence to join the States of the Count of Savoy. The eastern border of Provence was then redesigned to materialize in the lower course of the Var. This new context gives Saint-Paul a strategic position: the city becomes a border stronghold for five centuries. St. Paul experienced a first fortification campaign in the second half of the XIV century: the northern gate of the city, called “Porte de Vence,” dates back to the medieval wall.

16th – 18th century
In the 16th century, the political context of the Italian Wars, and in particular the Battle of Ceresole (1544), prompted François 1er to strengthen the city’s defense. He went to Saint-Paul in 1538 and decided to have new ramparts built there… In the context of the conflict between François I and Charles V on the European political scene, the strategic importance of Saint-Paul was confirmed by the fact that the city was occupied in 1524 and besieged again in 1536 by the troops of the King of Spain. In June 1538, on the occasion of the Congress of Nice, François I visited Saint-Paul, during which he decided to build a bastioned wall. This type of ramparts was then the most modern in terms of fortification. It was designed by Jean de Saint-Rémy, commissioner of artillery and expert in fortification, who worked under François 1st then Henri II. Four solid bastions with orillons protect the two gates of the city while powerful curtains protect the sides of the stronghold.

In the XVII century, St. Paul knows a religious radiation through the influence of Antoine Godeau, Bishop of Vence. The church, elevated to the rank of collegiate, is enlarged and embellished. Saint-Paul is also experiencing an urban renewal thanks to the families of nobles and notables who built sumptuous mansions, in particular in the rue Grande. Saint-Paul retains its vocation as a military stronghold, so Vauban came to inspect the fortifications in 1693 and 1700.

The city experienced a religious revival thanks to the Bishop of Vence Antoine Godeau. Raised to the rank of collegiate church in 1666, the church is embellished with remarkable altarpieces and furniture…

Both a clergyman and an enlightened thinker, Antoine Godeau was one of the founding members of the Académie Française in 1634. It was under its impetus and thanks to the donations of the great families of Saint-Paul that the church of Saint-Paul was enlarged and embellished in the 17th century. From this period date the altar of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the painting of which is attributed to the Spanish painter Claudio Coello, as well as the sumptuous Saint Clement chapel adorned with stuccos and fresco paintings.

The mansions of influential families, such as the Bernardi and the Alziary, are sumptuously embellished: stucco decorations and Rococo frescoes, monumental fireplaces and staircases, friezes of foliage and fruit that unfold along the facades. In addition, Saint-Paul retained its military role and Vauban came to inspect the ramparts in 1693 and 1700.

19th century
In the 19th century, the hills were covered with flowers, vines and olive trees. The brown stones of the village, the colors of the countryside and the light of the South attracted artists at the dawn of the 20th century…

It was at the beginning of the 1920s that Saint-Paul was discovered by artists. The forerunners are the painters who find colors and light of incomparable richness and intensity in this peaceful village in Provence: Paul Signac, Raoul Dufy or even Chaïm Soutine come to put their easels in the village. Their arrival was facilitated by the creation in 1911 of a tram line linking Cagnes to Vence and serving Saint-Paul. While this line helps to open up the village, it also allows agricultural products to be exported to Nice, Antibes or Grasse.

Painters like to meet at Paul Roux, a multi-faceted Saint-Paulois, both painter, collector and owner of the “Robinson” (which in 1932 became the “Colombe d’Or” inn), whose walls are still today adorned with their paintings. Many other painters followed these precursors, such as Matisse and Picasso who came to Saint-Paul “as neighbors”, one from Vence, the other from Vallauris and Cannes where he stayed for a long time.

20th century
Throughout the 20th century, actors, artists and writers made Saint-Paul a bubbling cultural center. If some just pass by, others choose to live there. They each mark the village in their own way with an indelible mark.

The 1950s and 1960s were the golden age of the village: Saint-Paul de Vence was transformed into a fabulous film set on which the stars of French and foreign 7th art met, attracted to the Côte d’Azur by the Victorine studios in Nice and the Cannes Film Festival.

The presence of Jacques Prévert in Saint-Paul for fifteen years helped to attract many directors such as Henri-Georges Clouzot and André Cayatte. Prévert notably lived in “la Miette” a very small house located in the heart of the village.

James Baldwin and Marc Chagall preferred to settle in the tranquility of the Saint-Paul countryside; they both spent nearly 20 years in the village.

For more than a century now, Saint-Paul de Vence has forged its identity as a city of arts and culture. The famous Maeght Foundation, inaugurated in 1964, and the chapel decorated by Jean-Michel Folon, opened in 2008, contribute to an artistic influence which today goes far beyond the borders of the Côte d’Azur.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the high places of tourism especially for its many art galleries which has the consequence of emptying the village of its traditional shops. Saint-Paul-de-Vence also shelters on its heights many villas which belong to many French and foreign millionaires.

Walk along the ramparts up towards the village and enter by the Porte de Vence. Go through the gate and walk along the ramparts. Don’t be intimidated by this mighty 16th century fortified gate. She recalls that Saint-Paul was an important border stronghold. The ramparts of Saint-Paul, erected by order of François 1er, have remained intact since their construction. The door is doubled by a 14th century battlements tower, a vestige of the medieval walls.

Turn right on rue de la Tour, then walk south along the ramparts to Porte de Nice. Enjoy the panorama over the Saint-Paul countryside planted with vineyards and olive trees and over the Mediterranean. Enter the cemetery. Soak up the atmosphere of this cemetery with centuries-old cypresses. It is here that the painter Marc Chagall rests, who spent the end of his life in Saint-Paul, between 1966 and 1985. He rests alongside his wife Vava and her brother, Michel.

Get out of the cemetery, go back through Porte de Nice and take rue Grande. Let yourself be enchanted by the charm of its houses which have retained traces of their past splendor. At n ° 71, a very beautiful 16th century gabled house with windows and half-windows opening onto the street. A little further on, at n ° 92, is the private mansion of the Alziary de Roquefort family, one of whose members, Honoré, was Viguier de Saint-Paul.

Take advantage of rue Grande to browse in artists’ studios, painting galleries, shops and stalls selling artisanal products.

In the middle of town flows a fountain. Its intimate character and the rustling of the water from its fountain invite you to stop there. Located in the heart of the village, it was the market place. Taste the freshness of the vaults of the washhouse where the washerwomen came to beat their laundry. The sundials decorating the facades indicate that the time is always right for a refreshing break by the large fountain.

Take the Montée de la Castre on the right. At n ° 2 is the house that Simone Signoret occupied with Yves Montand at the start of their romance. Continue to the church square, located on the highest part of the village.

Perhaps you will have the pleasure of hearing the chime of the bells which still rhythm the life of the village today. This square is lined with monuments that are part of the jewels of Saint-Paul’s heritage: the old keep of the castle which became the town hall of Saint-Paul, the Church of the Conversion of Saint-Paul built between the 14th and 16th centuries century as well as the Chapel of the White Penitents decorated by the artist Jean-Michel Folon. Stop at the Folon chapel: to visit this chapel is to discover the admirable work designed by Jean-Michel Folon. It is also an invitation to get to know this artist better, who has forged links with Saint-Paul de Vence for more than thirty years.

Take the opportunity to go back in time by visiting the Local History Museum where you will have the pleasure of meeting in one place all those who have written the history of Saint-Paul: François 1er, Vauban, Jean de Saint-Rémy…

Historical heritage

The Bastioned Wall
Following the wars in Italy, and in particular the battle of Ceresole, the bastioned enclosure of Saint-Paul, built by order of François 1er in 1540, follows the contours of the rocky outcrop on which the village rises. Alternating curtain walls and bastions, it measures nearly a kilometer in perimeter and has undergone few changes since its construction in the 16th century. It was designed by Jean de Saint-Rémy, commissioner of artillery and expert in fortification. Mentioned from the 1530s, he was sent on several occasions by François 1er in the south of the kingdom, to Marseille, Antibes, Arles and Beaucaire.

One of the interests of the ramparts of Saint-Paul is that they constitute one of the very first examples of bastioned fortification high in France designed by a French architect. The construction of these ramparts upset the physiognomy of the village since the work required the demolition of several dozen houses. The archives mention that nearly 450 inhabitants were forced to leave the village to settle in the territories of Colle and Roquefort, then dependent on Saint-Paul. The hamlets they founded later became the municipalities of Colle-sur-Loup and Roquefort-les-Pins. Bought in 1872 by the town then classified as a Historic Monument in 1945, the bastioned enclosure is today the flagship of Saint-Paul’s heritage.

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The Keep
The keep is the only part of the castle that has come down to us. Due in particular to the alterations of the neighboring church that took place during the 16th and 17th centuries, the fortress was gradually demolished. The embossed stones visible on the lower part of the tower could belong to a first construction of the 12th century. At the top of the tower, a bell cast in 1443 bears the Latin inscription “hora est jam de somno suggests” (the hours invite us to reverie). This dungeon has welcomed many prestigious guests, such as Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, military architect of Louis XIV, François 1er or even the count of Provence Raymond Bérenger V who in 1224 comes to reward Saint-Paul for his loyalty.

Since the 18th century, the keep has been the seat of the town hall. It is here that Yves Montand and Simone Signoret celebrated their wedding on December 22, 1951, surrounded by their witnesses Jacques Prévert and Paul Roux.

The Machicolation Tower
It also bears the name of “Porte de Vence” because it faces in the direction of Vence. It is one of the rare vestiges of the medieval walls of Saint-Paul. This gate tower was equipped with several means of defense: machicolations in its upper part, a crossbow in the north face and a harrow whose old slide is still visible. The upper brick part is probably a contemporary construction by Vauban.

The Esperon Tower
This square tower, set back from the Renaissance curtain, belonged to the medieval wall. Composed of three levels under the crown, this tower later played the role of powder magazine. The current aliasing under the roof is probably a transformation from the beginning of the last century.

The Bastion Of The Dauphin
With the Royal bastion facing it, it defended the northern entrance to the city, the gate of which opens into the 16th century bastion wall. In each of the two flanks of the bastion was fitted out a casemate within which was placed an artillery piece. The orientation of the cannon allowed flanking fire from one stronghold to another, preventing the enemy from advancing. The cannon which emerges from the doorway today is nicknamed Lacan, from the name of an artilleryman from Saint-Paul who would have worked in the service of François 1er. He reportedly brought this trophy back after the king’s victory at Ceresole d’Alba in Piedmont in 1544.

The Place de la Grande Fontaine
Reorganized in the 17th century and then in the 19th century, this square was the heart of the village’s activity, at any time of the day. The Saint-Paulois came there to stock up on water, the donkeys and mules quenched their thirst while the washerwomen came to beat and wash the laundry at the washhouse. It is on this square that the market was organized in the 17th century, once a week.

The Oil Mill
The production of olive oil has long been one of the pillars of the Saint-Paul economy. Until the beginning of the last century, oil was used in all everyday activities: to operate lamps and preserve food before electricity, to supply Marseille soap factories. The wheel of the mills was operated with hydraulic force thanks to water which was brought by an aqueduct. The 1730 inventory mentions the existence in Saint-Paul of five bread ovens, five oil mills and two flour mills.

The Pontis
If the pontis is pierced with a mullioned window which opens on the north side of the rue Grande, it shelters under its vault a beautiful studded wooden door.

The Puy plateau, on which stands the current cemetery, is the initial nucleus of the town (between the year 1000 and the beginning of the 12th century). At that time, a habitat was probably formed around the church of Saint Michel whose existence is attested from the middle of the 14th century. Besides its religious function, this church was the place where the representatives of the community gathered to take the major decisions, as evidenced by an archive document dated 1356. The current chapel dates from the 16th century.

Among the personalities who are buried in the cemetery of Saint-Paul, Marc Chagall occupies a special place since he lived in the village from 1966 to 1985. For almost 20 years, he painted in his Saint-Paul workshop countless landscapes of Saint-Paul. Paul where lovers, goats and roosters float above the village and the ramparts in the scent of immense bouquets of flowers. On the second plateau of the cemetery, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght lie alongside their son Bernard, who died at the age of 11.

Civil buildings
The walls: high on the orders of François I as replica to the Nice citadel from 1544 to 1547, they have not been tampered with. It is one of the first bastioned fortifications built in France. It is the work of the military engineer Jean de Renaud de Saint-Rémy. Vauban inspected these ramparts during one of his fortifications inspection tours in 1700.
The Auberge de La Colombe d’or which houses works by Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Modigliani, Braque, Fernand Léger, Chagall (not open)
The Maeght Foundation: a Mecca of modern and contemporary art, directed by Aimé and then Adrien Maeght. It houses temporary exhibitions and in situ sculptures in the park. We find the big names of modern art there, walking through the rooms and gardens of this exceptional place, with the works of Miró, Giacometti, Chagall or Léger, links that united the Maeght family to the artists of their time, as well as the architecture of the buildings designed by Josep Luís Sert.
The local history museum offers an interesting shortcut of the history of the town which was often also that of the history of Provence.
The cemetery of Saint-Paul-de-Vence contains the grave of Marc Chagall. and the Saint-Michel chapel.
The pontis, passing above the High Street, dating from the XV century.
The stately tower, next to the church, now serving as town hall.
The Moulins aqueduct which supplied the town’s mills. In 1730, an inventory mentions in Saint-Paul five bread ovens, five oil mills and two flour mills.

Religious heritage

The Collegiate Church
The construction of the village church extends from the 14th century to the 18th century. This building is therefore a mixture of eras and styles. In the primitive Romanesque church go up the four pillars and the double arches of the nave as well as the whole of the choir. The aisles were added later, probably at the beginning of the 16th century with the aim of enlarging a building which had become cramped. The 17th century corresponds to the golden age of the church of Saint-Paul since in 1666, the bishop of Vence Antoine Godeau raised it to the rank of collegiate church. As such, the church is embellished with furniture, such as the pulpit and the mercy stalls sculpted in 1668. But it is above all the Saint Clément chapel, a true jewel of Baroque art, which attracts all the attention. Built in the early 1680s by the Bernardi family, it contains relics from the catacombs of Rome. Its rich decoration of stucco and fresco paintings constitutes a remarkable example of the art of the Counter-Reformation.

The Chapel of the White Penitents Decorated By Folon
This 17th century chapel was for nearly three centuries the seat of the brotherhood of White Penitents whose existence in Saint-Paul has been documented since 1581. The penitents formed an association of lay people who came together for the purpose of piety and charity. Christian. They carried out charitable actions with the most disadvantaged to redeem themselves from their sins: care for the sick, distribution of clothes and food to the needy, distribution of grain to peasants victims of calamities. To these missions was added the reception of the lost traveler or the destitute pilgrim whom they had to accommodate and feed. This brotherhood existed in Saint-Paul until the early 1920s.

Restored in the early 2000s, the chapel received a decor a few years ago entirely designed by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon. The project he imagined is directly inspired by the penitents, as evidenced by these open hands, outstretched, ready to give and to help. The light colors of the stained-glass windows and paintings, the purity of the lines of the altar and the holy water font, the chromatic richness of the mosaic contrast with the exterior of the raw stone building. Note the astonishing triangular bell tower which surmounts the facade.

The Chapel of Notre Dame des Gardettes
The Notre Dame des Gardettes chapel was built in the Middle Ages along the old path linking Saint-Paul de Vence to Tourrettes-sur-Loup. First mentioned in 1476 under the name “Nostra Dona di Gardita”, the building is by its dimensions the largest rural chapel in the village. It was embellished with a stucco decoration in the 17th century and a set of wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary executed by two Saint-Pauloises between 1926 and 1930. Access the Notre Dame des Gardettes chapel by following an old path in the Saint-Paul countryside.

The Chapel of Saint Charles-Saint Claude
In 1695, Monsignor Cabannes de Viens, Bishop of Vence came on a pastoral visit to Saint-Paul de Vence. He specifies that the Saint Charles-Saint Claude chapel was “newly built”. It was founded by Charles Raymond, bourgeois of the village and Claude Barcillon, royal judge. Placed under the name of the patron saints of the two donors, the chapel is built on a promontory overlooking Saint-Paul de Vence and its ramparts. In the early 2010s, the Nice painter Paul Conte executed a cycle of colorful wall paintings inspired by the life of Saint-Claude du Jura and Saint-Charles Borromée.

Other religious buildings
Collegiate Church of the Conversion of Saint-Paul (XII – XIII century) restored in the XVII century. Erected as a collegiate church in 1666. In the Saint-Clément chapel, adorned with stucco, the altar is made up of a bas-relief representing the martyrdom of Saint Clement and two paintings, one from the Italian school, the other from the Murillo school; the church also contains a painting of Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Tintoretto. In the sacristy, the treasure includes statues in silver and vermeil (a black Madonna), reliquaries, crosses. In the chapel of the baptismal font, a graceful statuette of the Virgin, in alabaster, from the 15th century century. The choir is decorated with carved stalls. The Crucis beautiful walnut painted using a technique of the XVI century, tempera glue, is modern.
Holy Cross Chapel, White Penitents chapel (XVII century): Folon has conducted an extensive decorating project. Its astonishing three-sided bell tower completes the harmony of the highest part of the village, between the place de l’Eglise and the rue Cassette. A work clearly inspired by the spirit of the place that he had transcribed with precision on drawings and watercolors. Before the artistic decoration, three years of restoration work restored the roof, interior vaults, electricity and heating. He worked there until his death in 2005. He composed 8 canvases, 4 stained glass windows, 2 sculptures and a 106 m mosaic with simple and soft lines. The chapel, inaugurated in June 2008, is also the last decorated chapel in the southern Mediterranean.
Chapel St. Clair, road Vence, XV century
Chapelle St. Claude and St. Charles Road St. Clair, XVII century
Notre-Dame de la Gardette, called St. George Rd Saint Clair, XVIII century
Modern chapel of Saint-Bernard, chemin de Sainte-Claire.
Saint-Roch chapel, chemin de Saint-Roch.
Chapelle Saint-Michel, in the cemetery
Chapel, from 1885 rue Fontette, currently restoring the little chapel.
Chapel, rue Fontette.
Chapel, Dominican Sisters, Chemin de Saint-Claire.
Sainte Claire Priory, Chemin des Gardettes.

Cultural space
The village evokes the contrast between history and our contemporary times. From the Maeght Foundation to the Folon Chapel, art is at home here.

Local History Museum
Housed in an old house in the village, this museum features wax figures produced by the workshops of the Musée Grévin in Paris and dressed in period costumes. François I, Vauban, Queen Jeanne and many other characters are gathered in one place to tell you about the events that have marked the history of the village. An educational, fun and unique place on the Côte d’Azur.

Folon Chapel
To visit this chapel is to discover the admirable work designed by Jean-Michel Folon. It is also an invitation to get to know this artist better, who has forged links with Saint-Paul for more than thirty years. The close relationships that Folon has maintained with artisans, his conception of stained glass and sculpture, his fascination with light, are all keys that allow us to decipher his universe and his conception of art. The decor of the Chapel of the White Penitents is the latest achievement by Jean-Michel Folon, who died in 2005, but also the last artists’ chapel from the southern Mediterranean. Immerse yourself in the world of Jean-Michel Folon by discovering the boutique area of the Folon Chapel: postcards, sketchbooks, posters…

Maeght Foundation
The Maeght Foundation is a story of family and friendship. Aimé and Marguerite Maeght financed it. If they imagined it in collaboration with the Catalan architect Josep Lluis Sert, their artist friends personally participated in its design and construction, each appropriating a space for the future foundation. Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder and even Fernand Léger have found there an ideal place of creation where rooms and gardens dialogue in the most perfect harmony.

A museum in nature, the Fondation Maeght brings together one of the most important European collections of 20th century works. The Maeght Foundation is dedicated, according to the will of its founders, to the creation of our time. During temporary exhibitions, only one choice from the permanent collection is exhibited. From its collections, numerous exhibitions are also organized each year in museums in France and abroad. The name of the rooms is a tribute to the artists and does not concern the works exhibited there.

Talented artists rub shoulders with Chagall, César, Koons and Niki de Saint-Phalle, in the gallery windows. Rue Grande, the Open-Air Museum delivers its collection to you.

Modern art, contemporary art, singular or naive… In Saint-Paul de Vence, talented artists rub shoulders with Folon, Tobiasse, César, Niky de Saint-Phalle and other illustrious in the windows of the galleries. The street is an open-air museum. The artist is present and the exhibition creates the event. The work is installed in the morning and carried away in the evening, if it conquers the soul and the heart of a visitor.

The secrets of the succulent and typical summer recipe. For those who are not from Provence, understand Bagnaròtou (cold) and Bagna cauda (hot), it depends on the mood and the weather. Choose very fresh vegetables. Artichokes, celery, tomatoes, radishes, broad beans, leeks (if possible “wild” taradau), scallions, cardoon (quèsaco? Then cardoon is from the artichoke family), carrots, peppers, fennel.

Bagnarotou: Chop the anchovy fillets (do not desalt), an onion, a clove of garlic, parsley, basil and mix with a vinaigrette.
Bagna cauda: Put in a pan 8 cloves of garlic, 150 g of anchovy fillets, pepper and a quarter of olive oil. Cook over low heat until the anchovies and garlic are melted and bind to the oil. You can add capers at the end of the preparation. Then put the hot pan on the table where everyone will dip their raw vegetables.

Hot or cold, to taste with a good red wine or a very chilled rosé and accompany with a brissauda. Yes, we said brissauda… Decoding: slices of a slightly stale baguette. Grill and rub with garlic (without the germ). Put the slices in a deep dish, salt and sprinkle generously with good olive oil.

Products of Provence, tableware, fabrics, dresses and hats… the shops open their doors to you 7 days a week.

Small Markets and Vineyard
Taste the Saint-Paul wine, stroll on the ramparts, have a drink on a terrace, we are right to imagine that there is always a place where life is good. In the 1960s, the Saint-Paul countryside was still the domain of agriculture. The hills were covered with a mosaic of cultivated plots of carnations, perfume roses, vines and market garden produce. The perfume flower made Saint-Paul de Vence famous.

The production of the May rose and the bitter orange blossom has given Saint-Paul agriculture its letters of nobility. In 1905, Saint-Paul de Vence produced 140 tonnes of May roses, 200 tonnes in 1913. These flowers were shipped to Grasse to be distilled there. The terraced cultures were irrigated thanks to innumerable basins built at the top of the slopes. Today, truffle oaks, aromatic plants and vines continue to decorate the terraced plots.

The choice is yours: pétanque, bike, hike or spa break…, add a moment of leisure to your cultural visits.

Nature and heritage route
Walk on the new interpretation trail of the bastioned fortifications Henri Layet. Walking routes from the village to explore the Saint-Paul countryside and its small heritage, without ever getting lost.

The exceptional topography of Saint-Paul de Vence explains both its past as a military stronghold and its soul as an agricultural village. Take the path laid out at the foot of the western ramparts in order to understand the origin and the architecture of the bastioned enclosure of François 1er and to discover an agricultural past still alive and protected.

The trail was developed as part of the European project Alcotra SuCCeS which brings together the municipalities of Saint-Paul de Vence and Ceresole d’Alba (Piedmont region, Italy) around the theme of the battle of Ceresole (1544).

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