The charming village of Saint Paul de Vence
As one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, Saint Paul de Vence really packs a punch. The town is home to both contemporary and modern art galleries, Renaissance churches, and a castle that dates back to the 14th century. Saint Paul de Vence is the ideal destination for a culture-filled vacation in southern France.
The collection of museums and monuments aren't the town’s only selling point. Saint Paul de Vence is also home to several boutique shops, quaint cafes, and authentic French restaurants. Whatsmore, getting to Saint Paul de Vence from Nice is quick and cost-effective when traveling with FranceRent.
Aside from the attractions, Saint Paul's is awash with history. The town sits inside fortification walls that date back to the mid-15th century. The walls remain precisely as they did in the 15th-century and add a layer of intrigue to this pretty little town.
Things to do in Saint Paul de Vence
The first thing you'll want to do when arriving in the village is to get your bearings. What better way to do so than taking a stroll through the town center? Follow the cobblestoned paths as you explore every street and alleyway on foot. Fun fact: the streets remained bare until 1950 when the Mayor ordered cobbles. The fountain in the town square is a good starting point, and easy to find as music tends to be playing from beneath it.
Next on your to-see list should be the Grimaldi Castle Museum. This elegant castle dates right back to the 1300s and houses an array of permanent exhibitions. The castle is also the location for a number of concerts throughout the year, so it's worth checking online in advance to see what's on. Similarly, the Chapelle Folon is another impressive building and one that's brimming with local artwork.
To enjoy a greener side of the town, visit the Musee Renoir. The museum dedicates exhibitions to the work and life of impressionist artist Auguste Renoir, and visitors can explore his former studio. While the museum is fantastic, its the museum's grounds that showcase the beauty of the region. Visitors may explore the three hectares of well-pruned land.
You're going to want to climb the Ramparts of Saint Paul de Vence for spectacular views out over the surrounding countryside. You’ll also be able to see the distant Meditteranean Sea. The fortification walls have protected Saint Paul's since 1546, and today visitors can explore the bastions while taking in the views. If you're an early riser, then the rampart walls are the ideal spot to watch the sunrise.
Art, Culture, and Shopping
Saint Paul has a thriving art scene, and there are several private studios and public galleries that are worth exploring. Not to mention, most artists who own property in the town center tend to work with their doors open to create an open-studio vibe. Some of the most talked-about galleries in town are the Art Seiller Galerie, the Bogena Galerie, and Art Galerie 31. The latter boasts a permanent exhibition covering the works of Michel Degav. However, one of the most famous galleries in the town is Fondation Maeght. The museum houses a long-list of artwork by renowned 20th-century artists, including Pierre Bonnard, Alexander Calder, and Jean Arp.
As for shopping, visitors can pick up all manner of wares from artisan tableware to local sweets. For artisan jewelry, check out Choisy La Galerie or for designer accessories. After, pay a visit to Enfin Veuve. If you're hoping to leave the French Riviera having adopted the local attire, swing by French Collections and shop for garments made with traditional silks.
Day Trips from Saint Paul de Vence
Saint Paul's is equidistant from Cannes and Nice, there are endless day trips to enjoy. While visiting the larger resort towns is appealing, consider venturing to some of the nearby medieval towns. The village of Mougins should be on your to-do list as this beautiful commune is under a 30-minute drive west of Saint Paul's. Expansive olive groves, blooming Cyprus trees, and lush green forest are what make this medieval town extra special.
Another popular day trip from Saint Paul de Vence is to the town of Vence. The town sits just 5-miles north of Saint Paul's and is home to the Chapelle du Rosaire, a small Catholic chapel that dates back to 1947. The chapel has been designed and decorated by French artist Henri Matisse. Before you leave Vence, pay a visit to the old ash tree found at the western gateway. Planted in the 16th century in honor of Francis I's visit to the region, the tree marks a historical event in Saint Paul's history. Other nearby towns of interest include Antibes and the island of Sainte-Marguerite.
While Saint Paul de Vence might be a small town, but the list of things to do is quite extensive. Between visiting museums and galleries and dining at quirky restaurants and cafes, you'll be soaking in southern France's small-town charm. The town is also an excellent base for those wishing to explore the inner towns of the French Riviera and links nicely with nearby Cannes and Nice.
From Nice Cote d'Azur Airport, Saint Paul de Vence is just a 20-minute drive inland. FranceRent can take care of all your luxury travel and transfers needs in advance. If you want to touch down in Saint Paul de Vence in style, why not arrive by private helicopter? You’ll get to enjoy views of coastline while you're at it. Alternatively, if your trip to Saint Paul's is part of a multi-stop itinerary, consider chartering a yacht to sail the coastline.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.