A stroll through the village

The village of Saint-Paul de Vence harbours countless treasures within its ramparts. Take the time to seek them out around a corner, behind a fountain, at the foot of a bastion... Explore the pedestrian streets of Saint-Paul de Vence and immerse yourself the village's history and heritage

Start: Place du Jeu de Boules beneath the ramparts at the entrance to the village.

Expert's advice

NICOLE SOBIÉReception manager

Before setting off, call in at the Tourist Information Office to pick up a map, or download a copy in our "Brochures" section.

Download the map

Place du jeu de boules

A legendary square edged with century-old plane trees where the villagers like to gather. Yves Montand and Lino Ventura engaged in hotly disputed games of pétanque here. The Café de la Place stands on one side: its terrace is the perfect spot for enjoying the atmosphere. The famous Colombe d’Or is on the other: its regulars included the greatest artists of the 20th century: Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Braque, Léger, Folon, etc.

Follow the ramparts, climbing towards the village, and enter by the Porte de Vence.

La Porte de Vence & the ramparts

This intimidating, powerful, fortified gateway reminds us that Saint-Paul was a key border stronghold. Saint-Paul's ramparts were constructed in the 16th century on the order of François I and have remained intact. The entrance is also protected by a tower with machicolations from the 14th century - a vestige of medieval town walls.

Turn right onto Rue de la Tour and follow the ramparts southwards to the Porte de Nice (Nice Gate). Take in the panorama of Saint-Paul's countryside studded with vines and olive trees, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Enter the cemetery.

The cemetery

Soak up the atmosphere in the cemetery.

Cypress trees several centuries old shade the remains of artist Marc Chagall, who spent the final years of his life in Saint-Paul (1966 to 1985).

He lies alongside his wife, Vava, and her brother, Michel.

Rue Grande

Leave the cemetery through the Porte de Nice and take Rue Grande. Revel in the charm of the village houses and traces of their past splendour.

Number 71 is a fine gabled house from the 16th century with double and single windows opening onto the street. A little further on, number 92 was the mansion of the Alziary family from Roquefort; Honoré Alziary was the magistrate of Saint-Paul.

Take the time to browse along Rue Grande, wandering into artist studios, art galleries, boutiques and craft shops..

La Placette

Linger for a while on this tiny square, refreshed by the gushing sound of water in the fountain.

Take the time to look around you, to pick out the ogee over the door to number 9 and to imagine the ground floor of Galerie Jean Carré when it was a stable.

 

Place de la Grande Fontaine

Located at the heart of the village, this was once the market square. Savour the cool air in the vaulted washhouse where washerwomen would come to rub and beat their washing.

 

Don't be surprised if the sundials dotted around the village always say it's time for a cooling break by the big fountain!

 

Place de l'église

Turn right, up Montée de la Castre. Number 2 is the house that Simone Signoret shared with Yves Montand at the beginning of their love story. Continue to Place de l'Eglise, the highest spot in village.

The world from above

You may hear the pleasing chime of the bells as they continue to mark the pace of village life. This square is edged with monuments that are jewels in Saint-Paul's historical crown: the keep of the former château now the "Mairie" (town hall) of Saint-Paul, the Church of the Conversion of Saint-Paul constructed between the 14th and 16thcenturies, plus the Folon chapel.

 

Time for a cultural break

Folon chapel: Discover the admirable design work of Jean-Michel Folonby visiting this chapel, and learn more about an artist who nurtured strong links with Saint-Paul for over thirty years. 

Don't miss the opportunity to go back in time with a visit to the Local History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Locale). Meet all of the characters who shaped the history of Saint-Paul: François I, Vauban, Jean de Saint-Rémy...

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