This Last year (Happy New Year!), we took a half day trip to St Paul De Vence from Nice. Most visitors to Nice use Nice as a base for exploring the French Riviera as it has good access to accommodation, food and transportation (refer to my Nice blog post for more information on visiting Nice). Even if you’ve never been to Nice, I’m sure you would have heard of the neighbouring cities of Monte Carlo (check out my Monaco blog post) and Cannes, but have you ever heard of St Paul De Vence?
At the end of our Europe trip through 21 different cities across Europe, I discussed with my boyfriend and sister which places we enjoyed the most. We came to a consensus that St Paul De Vence was one of the most memorable.
I first heard of St Paul De Vence on Fodors, where it was highly recommended. The romantic-sounding mountaintop village, filled with cobblestones and art sounded like something from a fairytale. Best of all, it is easily accessible via public bus (Yay!).
The bus stop in Nice can be found near Promenade du Paillon, where you can catch the bus #400 for €1.50 each way. It comes every 30-40 minutes, you can check the timetable here. The bus ride takes about an hour so some people prefer catching a train to Cros de Cagnes station before getting on the bus #400, as it’s faster. I personally find this option risky as it is a lot harder to get a seat on the bus and during busy times the bus might be full and refuse extra passengers. The bus is comfortable and air-conditioned so give yourself extra time and catch the bus from Nice.
WHO WE STAYED WITH
As we visited St Paul De Vence on a half day trip, we did not stay the night there. Instead we based ourselves in Nice. You can find details of where we stayed here.
We highly recommend staying in Nice as opposed to St Paul De Vence because, even though it is a very beautiful village, there isn’t much to do there. Otherwise, the nearby town of Vence is also a good option. If you insist on staying in St Paul De Vence, a very famous place to stay is La Colombe d’Or which has been around since 1920. The hotel was visited by many famous artists in it’s time, many exchanging paintings for a stay in the popular hotel. Hence, the walls of the hotel are now covered in paintings from the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Léger, Calder and César. For more information about the history and art at La Colombe d’or, click here.
WHAT WE DID
St Paul De Vence houses a very famous art museum, but we opted to skip the museum and instead wander around the cobblestone streets of the village. Once in the village, there aren’t really any must-visit sites or attractions as the village itself is the attraction. We spent a good few hours just wandering around, soaking in the atmosphere and taking lots of photos.
WHERE WE ATE
Apart from ice cream, we didn’t eat anything in St Paul De Vence. We waited until we got back to Nice before we ate. In general, while wandering around the streets we didn’t see a huge selection of food anyway. TripAdvisor has a few recommendations if you are interested.
WHEN WE VISITED
We visited in Summer, so it was really hot. There are a lot of stairs and not much shade. Many people complain the village gets too busy in Summer, but it depends on your definition of busy. Personally, I didn’t find it bad at all. You can see from my photos and video a lot of the shots I captured didn’t have many people in it, this would not be possible in other places I’ve visited previously (especially Asia). There are plenty of water fountains around the village which you can use to fill up your water bottles. Our original plan was to visit Vence afterwards, but we were so tired from the heat – we returned to Nice instead.
WHY WE WISH WE STAYED A LITTLE LONGER
If there was one thing we wish we had time to check out, it would be The Fondation Maeght. This is St Paul De Vence’s modern and contemporary art museum which houses art by Calder, Chagall, Braque, Giacometti, Miró and more. It would have also been nice to visit the nearby town of Vence.