Last week we spent a couple of days in the beautiful fortified village of St Paul de Vence, soaking up the atmosphere, dining out, visiting galleries and stopping at the little boutiques.
The village looks gorgeous at this time of year, so well-tended with bougainvillea and plumbago climbing the stone walls. Visitors from all over the world come to see this lovely village, and I took great pleasure wandering around early before the streets got busy, and I even popped inside the beautiful old church.
Our days were spent out and about along the coast, but late each afternoon we were pleased to drive back up the hill to our little stone house within the ramparts, relax and change for dinner before walking out to wine and dine.
I hadn’t been to St Paul for quite a few years, and it was fun rediscovering the village. I thought you may like to see my list of must-see’s.
We started each day with breakfast at the renowned Café de la Place. The croissants are delicious, the service a delight, and it was fun to watch the village wake up around us.
We actually returned to the same café each evening for a glass of champagne or wine, before going out to dinner. It is lively, and the perfect place to watch the locals play boules in the shadows of the tall trees.
We sometime dined at the legendary Colombe d’Or, just two steps from the village square. How I love this hotel and restaurant, an icon of the Côte d’Azur for the past century. It is frequented by some of the world’s biggest stars, and its walls are literally studded with original paintings by Picasso, Miro, Dufy and more, but despite the glamour it has managed to keep an elegant, simple style and atmosphere. The food is good, but not too fancy, and the service kind and attentive.
The reason for the art collection is that La Colombe d’Or was originally created as a café and bar by the artist Paul Roux. The café evolved into a hotel. Gradually he started attracting other artists, writers and actors …. and sometimes the artists paid for their stay with a painting! In the summer I love to dine in their leafy courtyard, and in the winter indoors surrounded by masterpieces!
Another favorite restaurant is Le Tilleul, perched up high on the ramparts with a beautiful terrace that catches the evening light.
The food is excellent and this is another popular table where you need to reserve. The owner Nathalie, made us extremely welcome, and we enjoyed her recommendations from their wine list.
When the weather is cooler they have cosy restaurant space indoors, recently redesigned by Jacqueline Morabito. I had great intentions about eating carefully during the holidays, but their dessert presentation is so beautiful that my willpower proved inadequate.
If you prefer to buy food to take home, then your best bet is the well stocked little store and fromagerie, tucked beneath a vine. It’s called Le Fromager de St Paul and Magdi takes great care of his clients, sharing his favourite wines, olive oils and cheeses.
Here you’ll find a choice of cured meats, cheeses, and dried fruits, perfect for an aperitif with friends.
There are many art galleries in St Paul, each with their own speciality, and I was happy to meet Isabelle de Botton at her gallery Casa d’Amor Design. Her eclectic choice of paintings, watercolors, lithographs and sculptures are more than tempting, and reflect her years of accumulated knowledge in design and art. In the basement of her store she also carries a range of fine porcelain decorated by great artists, as well as some furniture.
It was a joy to meet Isabelle, and honestly I know that I’ll be back in her store in the near future, to take another look at her astounding collection.
Not far from where we were staying, was a charming boutique Godet Parfums. In today’s world, an artisanal perfume maker is a rare thing, and I was delighted to discover this address.
So delighted in fact that I’m saving the rest of my pictures and information for a separate story later this week!
And right next door to the perfumery is the most delightful small shop known as Revolv’Air, where Patricia Rémus creates hand made fans.
Patricia is a former costume designer, who worked in theatre, and today she continues to create by producing these pretty fans that are ideal for slipping into a handbag for a warm summer evening.
I’ll be back later in the week to tell you about two extraordinary people who I met in St Paul. In the meantime I hope you are enjoying some down time, be it in France or in your own happy place.