Saint Paul de Vence, France – Things To Do In Artist’s Village

Bonjour! Welcome to Saint Paul de Vence, one of the most authentic and well-preserved medieval villages on Cote d’Azur which seems to be frozen in time. By many, it’s considered one of the most beautiful villages in the region! Saint Paul de Vence is a fairy-tale place where you’ll find winding picturesque streets, cozy squares, hidden corners, tall stone houses, small art galleries, craft shops, and great views. Come, let us show you things to do in the village of Saint Paul de Vence, France.

Saint Paul de Vence, France - Things To Do In Artist's Village
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Saint Paul de Vence, France FAQ

Where is Saint Paul de Vence located?

Saint Paul de Vence is located inland in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in the Alpes-Maritimes department in Southeastern France. It sits on a hill at an altitude of approximately 300m a.s.l. The village is just a short drive from popular places like Nice, Antibes, Cannes or Eze.

Is Saint Paul de Vence worth visiting?

Sure thing! Saint Paul de Vence is a captivating medieval village that offers a fascinating insight into how life might have looked hundreds of years ago. You might not find dozens of things to do in the village but even so, a visit to Saint Paul de Vence shouldn’t be missed. After all, it’s not without reason that it became one of the most popular destinations on Cote d’Azur!

What is Saint Paul de Vence famous for?

Saint Paul de Vence is best known for being a pretty, charming, and well-preserved medieval hilltop village in the French Riviera. Since the 1920s’ it has also been a very strong magnet for countless artists and art lovers like Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, or Folon. They couldn’t resist its charm too! The village is also known for being home to Fondation Maeght, one of the world-leading cultural institutions.

How much time should you spend in Saint Paul de Vence?

Saint Paul de Vence is a perfect destination for a day trip. In just a few hours you’ll be able to visit all the places in the village, eat dinner, and walk around the ramparts. But if you want to soak into the medieval vibe for a little longer you can choose to stay for a night or two.

What’s the best time to visit Saint Paul de Vence?

It’s always a good time to visit Saint Paul de Vence! The village is beautiful all year round, and you’ll get a different experience each season. We recommend visiting during the low season, from October to April – during that time you’ll be able to enjoy Saint Paul de Vence without hordes of tourists. During the high season, the village can get pretty busy, so to avoid crowds be sure to arrive early in the morning.

How far is Saint Paul de Vence from the beach?

The closest beaches to Saint Paul de Vence village are located in Cagnes-sur-Mer, about 10km away.

Things to do in Saint Paul de Vence Medieval Village in France
Things to do in Saint Paul de Vence Old Town
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Short history of Saint Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence’s history goes back hundreds of years. Thanks to its location on a hill it was considered a safer place to live so over the centuries it was gradually populated and developed. In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Provence granted several privileges to the village. In the 14th century, it became the county town of a bigger district and its strategic position was noticed – ramparts were erected and Saint Paul became an important border stronghold.

Later, in the 16th century, the village defenses were strengthened. In the 17th century, the village church was raised to the rank of a collegiate church and was decorated with magnificent altarpieces and furnishings. Saint Paul continued to play its important military role until the 18th century. In the 19th century, the hills around the village were covered with flowers, vines, and olive trees.

View from Saint Paul de Vence Ramparts
Short history of Saint Paul de Vence, France

In the 20th century, at the beginning of the 1920s to be exact, Saint Paul de Vence started to become a popular spot for artists. Paul Signac, Raoul Dufy, Chaïm Soutine, Paul Roux, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Jacques Prévert, James Baldwin… And many more followed in their footsteps. Some only passed through, others decided to settle. All that contributed to transforming the village into a hub of the arts and culture.

Colorful sculpture in Saint Paul de Vence, an artist's village
Entrance to Saint Paul de Vence Old Town - Gate Porte de Vence

Things to do in Saint Paul de Vence, France

Saint Paul de Vence village streets

Saint Paul de Vence is a tiny medieval village and you don’t need a map to explore it. Just let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the maze of cobblestone winding streets and soon you’ll discover every corner. Stone houses tightly built together, cozy squares, vaulted passageways, art galleries, craft shops, restaurants, and magnificent views of the surroundings… All of that is waiting for you in Saint Paul de Vence. Oh, and there are almost no cars or even scooters inside! Especially in the heart of the village.

Things to do in Saint Paul de Vence - explore village streets
Exploring Saint Paul de Vence, Town full of artists
Exploring Saint Paul de Vence, Village full of artists

Among Saint Paul de Vence village streets you’ll find points of interest like ramparts, two gates: Porte de Nice and Porte de Vence, a 17th-century fountain, Saint Paul Collegiate Church, Chapel of the White Penitents, a cemetery with Marc Chagall’s Grave, and world-renowned hotel and restaurant – La Colombe d’Or located on Place De Gaulle. The largest number of art galleries is located on Rue Grande.

Saint Paul de Vence Tourist Office is located within the village walls, right next to Porte de Vance gate in Rue Grande.

Travel tip. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, they will make exploring Saint Paul de Vence much easier.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Saint Paul de Vence

Old stone buildings in Saint Paul de Vence Old Town
Old stone building in Saint Paul de Vence Old Town
Saint Paul de Vence, France - Explore Stone Medieval Village
Cozy corner in Saint Paul de Vence, France
Saint Paul de Vence, France - Uphill Medieval Village

Fountain of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

In the heart of the village, in the middle of Rue Grande, you’ll find a beautiful fountain. It was first built in the 17th century and later redesigned in 1850. It stands on the former market square which has always been one of the busiest spots in the village, a place where locals headed to fetch water, do the laundry in a vaulted washhouse, and water the animals. The Fountain of Saint Paul de-Vence has been classified as a Historic Monument. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most iconic spots in the village.

Fountain of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint Paul Collegiate Church

Saint Paul Collegiate Church (fr. Collégiale Saint Paul) is located at the highest point of the village on Place de l’Église, right next to the remains of the former castle (now Town Hall). Its construction lasted from the 14th to 18th century, thanks to which the church features a blend of various architectural styles. In 1666 it was raised to the status of a Collegiate Church, and soon after various improvements, and artworks were added. Today, the main attraction is the chapel dedicated to Saint Clement which houses relics from catacombs in Rome. Saint Paul Collegiate Church has been classified as a Historic Monument. Entrance is free.

Learn more iconBook now: Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Cannes & Gourdon Small Group Day Trip from Nice

Saint Paul Collegiate Church
Interior of Saint Paul Collegiate Church

Folon Chapel

Folon Chapel, or Chapel of the White Penitents, is a 17th-century chapel located just a few steps from Saint Paul Collegiate Church. It was restored in the early 2000s and then entirely redecorated by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon. It was the last project he worked on before he died in 2005. Nowadays, you can explore this unique place with very impressive works of art.

Entrance to Folon Chapel costs €3 for a normal ticket and is free for children under 12 years old (April 2024). Guided tours are available on request. For current prices and opening hours visit website. The ticket includes entry to the Museum of Local History.

Museum of Local History

If you decide to visit Folon Chapel, you can also take a look at the Museum of Local History (fr. Musée d’Histoire Locale) afterward as the entrance is included with the ticket. It’s located in a traditional stone house opposite the chapel. Inside you’ll find wax models of the characters from Saint-Paul de Vence’s history, all dressed in period costumes showcasing the village’s past. All created by the famous Grévin Museum in Paris.

Exploring Saint Paul de Vence Village streets and squares
Exploring Saint Paul de Vence Village

Ramparts of Saint Paul de Vence

Village ramparts date back to the 16th century, forming a 1km long perimeter around the village. King François I ordered the construction to strengthen village defenses. Since then, they have undergone only slight modifications and remained almost intact. An interesting fact is that dozens of houses had to be demolished and almost 450 inhabitants were forced to leave to build fortifications. Ramparts were listed as a Historical Monument in 1945.

Nowadays you can admire ramparts from the outside during a short, about 30-minute, walk. Village prepared a guided path that stretches from Porte de Nice to Porte de Vence. Thanks to the info-panels you’ll learn not only about military history but also about the landscapes and agriculture. During the walk, you’ll also be able to admire amazing views over the countryside, mountains and the coast. Near Porte de Nice gates, you’ll find a dedicated viewpoint on the ramparts.

Learn more iconBook now: The Best of the French Riviera Full Day Tour

View over Alps from Ramparts of Saint Paul de Vence
Ramparts of Saint Paul de Vence - Walking route

La Colombe d’Or 

Nowadays, La Colombe d’Or is a legendary hotel and restaurant. In the past, it was a place where great artists (like Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Léger, or Folon) liked dining and even living. Apparently, they could do that for free in exchange for paintings as the owner, Paul Roux, was an art collector. Restaurant walls are still adorned with their paintings! If you wish to dine there, remember to book in advance, as you can imagine La Colombe d’Or is very popular!

La Colombe d’Or is located on a Place du Général de Gaulle square, a place where the villagers like to gather, play pétanque games, or just drink a coffee in Café de la Place.

Saint Paul de Vence Cemetery

The village cemetery is located just outside Porte de Nice gate. It became famous thanks to the fact that the famous painter Marc Chagall’s grave is located there. And by the look at it, we can say that it looks like he has many fans! From the cemetery, you can also admire nice views of the surrounding areas.

Saint Paul de Vence Cemetery
Saint Paul de Vence Cemetery - Marc Chagall grave

Saint Paul de Vence viewpoints

For nice views over Saint Paul de Vence perched village, head down either to Route de la Colle or Route des Serres. These are two parallel streets so it doesn’t matter which one you choose (we prefer Route de la Colle as it’s located slightly higher). They are located only about 5 minutes on foot from Porte de Vence gate.