The walled city of Saint-Paul de Vence in France is the artsy town where the new meets the old. It is one of the most beautiful towns in France, packed with artworks hidden in its narrow and quaint medieval streets.
From cobblestone pathways to buildings to what’s inside the buildings, art lives on every corner of Saint-Paul de Vence. According to the tourism office of Saint-Paul de Vence, there are 40+ registered museums, art studios, and galleries inside the tiny walled city!
In this blog post, I share the best things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence to make your trip worth a visit!
Aside from giving you a list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence, you will also find answers to the frequently asked questions about this town. That includes what makes Saint-Paul de Vence famous and if Saint-Paul de Vence is worth a visit.
I create this post because I love quaint villages with scenic views, and Saint-Paul de Vence is just a perfect example of it.
Facts and information (i.e., opening hours, etc.) are based on the official website of Saint-Paul de Vence unless stated.
I hope this list can help you discover the best of Saint-Paul de Vence. Wish you safe travels and a memorable journey! Viva la Vida!
To further introduce you to Saint-Paul de Vence, let’s answer first this question:
What does Saint-Paul de Vence in France famous for?
Saint-Paul de Vence is famous for being a town that resembles a large open museum where timeless and modern artworks are created and reside. Here in Saint-Paul de Vence, we can find La Fondation Maeght, a museum and one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Saint-Paul de Vence’s quaint village, together with La Fondation Maeght, attracts millions of tourists and travelers every year.
Visitors also enjoy the picturesque views of Saint-Paul de Vence. Located on a hilltop in the diverse landscapes of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Southeastern France, we can expect to see scenic views of the mountains and the sea.
Cities near Saint-Paul de Vence
Saint-Paul de Vence is a great day trip destination from Nice and Cannes. In fact, Saint-Paul de Vence is a town in between these two fantastic cities!
If we plan to get a bus ride, it can’t take up more than 2 hours to reach Saint-Paul de Vence from either of these two cities. However, if we have a car, travel time would only last 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on traffic conditions.
Best things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Saint-Paul de Vence might be small in size, but many discoveries await you in it! Here are the 14 sights and things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence for a wanderlust-satisfying day trip.
Be sure to get a copy of the map from the tourist information center before you start exploring the walled city. Absolutely, it will help while you are inside the walled city.
If you’re like me, who uses Google Maps in exploring different places, we have to change our strategy this time.
We will have a hard time using Google Maps (navigate) as most buildings cover our location. Our GPS will surely malfunction and give us inaccurate coordinates within the town.
By the way, I wrote an article about the 10 most beautiful villages in the south of France (click here to read). Saint-Paul de Vence is one of these beautiful villages. If you love quaint villages and medieval experiences, you should also discover others. They’re just the perfect place to satisfy your wanderlust.
Stroll in Rue Grande.
Saint-Paul de Vence is one of the most beautiful villages in France, and I think Rue Grande will prove it to us. Just look at this Streetview:
Rue Grande is characterized by a beautiful alley with cobblestones of a unique flower-like pattern. Everywhere we look, we will be filled with awe and admiration.
We will also find small water fountains and Mediterranean plants along this lane. These, together with the quaint houses, make an image of an idyllic place that every one of us will surely love to wander around.
For me, this is the first thing that we must do as soon as we arrive. It is the best eye appetizer I think we can have in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Explore the Place de la Grande Fontaine.
As we stroll in Rue Grande, one of the spots we’ll encounter is Place de la Grande Fontaine. A quick stop here and to explore it is one of the unmissable things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Place de la Grande Fontaine will help you imagine what it was like in the past in Saint-Paul de Vence. Though it was redesigned several times in the past, the main parts of Place de la Grande Fontaine were never removed.
Place de la Grande has been the busiest part of Saint-Paul de Vence’s walled village. Back in the day, it hosted a marketplace that took place once a week.
Fountain in Place de la Fontaine
The fountain is the first thing we can notice when we arrive at Place de la Grande Fontaine. It was the village’s primary water source where townsmen fetch water for their daily lives.
Travelers of the middle ages come here too with their mules and donkeys to let them drink. Lucky us, we do not have to bring animals just to trot the world!
Washhouse in Place de la Fontaine
There is also a washhouse in Place de la Fontaine, located under the terrace with red umbrellas. There, we will find the tubs where the washerwoman beat and scrubbed their laundry.
When we explore Place de la Fontaine, we discover the story of the lives of the folks who lived in Saint-Paul de Vence. It is the spot that can make us realize how lucky we are now to have all the convenience of modern technology.
Just imagine, if we were to be transported in the 17th century to Saint-Paul de Vence, can we cope with the life they have?
See different artworks inside the ramparts.
As we continue strolling in Rue Grande, we can notice that it is full of galleries and art workshops. Well, actually, the whole Saint-Paul de Vence is full of them!
As I said in the introduction, there are more than 40 exhibits here. Visiting the galleries is also a thing not to be missed to do as they are one of the core attractions in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Among all the galleries, here are the three exhibits in Saint-Paul de Vence that I like to visit the most:
- ART Gallery 31
- Di Allure Art Gallery
- Kleinberg Workshop
ART Gallery 31
Art Gallery 31 is a permanent exhibition of the painter Michel Degav. I like his artwork because of the eye-catching vibrant colors he uses. Besides, his creations depict strength, dreams, and happiness, reminding me of the person I created, the guy I am today, and the man I aim to be in the future.
Here is Michel Degav’s video about his gallery. I wish there were English translations.
Di Allure Art Galerie
Another Gallery in Saint-Paul de Vence that I liked too is Di Allure Art Galerie. The art exhibited in this gallery is works of Macedonian artists (mostly). The artworks here introduce new ideas and ways of conveying a message through art.
They exhibit paintings and sculptures that will amaze you with how they were made. Here is a sample of Di Allure Art Galerie’s paintings. You can check their Facebook page to learn more:
Kleinberg Workshop is the third gallery or workshop that I liked in Saint-Paul de Vence. In his impressive paintings, he conveys the characteristics of a human, described by the tones and colors, in a free and spontaneous way.
Here is a sample of his work:
In Saint-Paul de Vence, what’s great about attending an art workshop is the direct interaction with the artist. They will speak of their passion, captivating stories, and as well as their techniques.
View the White Penitent’s Chapel decorated by Folon.
Aside from the three galleries that I mentioned above, the White Penitent’s Chapel is another not-to-be-missed gallery in Saint-Paul de Vence we should visit.
The White Penitent’s Chapel is one of the most highly rated attractions in the village, so we must not exclude visiting it in this list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Here’s what is inside the White Penitents Chapel:
Yes, it is not an ordinary chapel. White Penitents Chapel is now an exhibit of the artworks created by Jean-Michel Folon, a Belgian artist who dedicated his life to Saint-Paul de Vence.
He finished numerous artworks that embellished every part of the chapel through his years in Saint-Paul de Vence.
In the walls of the White Penitent’s Chapel, there you’ll find Folon’s mosaic, stained glass windows, and sculptures. Folon has made eight oil paintings that now hang on both sides of the chapel.
But, what’s really remarkable among his works is the 106-square-meters mosaic that covers the walls of the choir. As you may have seen from the 360-image above, the mosaic depicts the walled village of Saint-Paul de Vence and its surrounding landscape.
One of the famous quotations from Folon is this: “Creating something spiritual, trying to understand the deep meaning of a place, is a real joy.”
The White Penitent’s Chapel of Saint-Paul de Vence is open seven days a week, excluding December 25 and January 1. The chapel is also closed every November.
Entry is 4 EUR for adults, 3 EUR for students, and free for kids under 6 years old. You can buy tickets at the Musee d’Histoire Locale, just opposite the chapel. A ticket will let you enter the chapel and the local history museum.
Enter the Collegiate Church.
Art appreciation never ends in Saint Paul de Vence. After the church museum of White Penitent’s Chapel, we can visit an actual church – our 5th activity on this list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence.
This church is called Saint Paul Collegiate Church, which construction lasted for almost eternal 4 centuries. Because of that, different styles and architecture were incorporated into the church, signifying the eras they were built.
Isn’t it cool to visit a church with different styles? Where else can we find something like this? Anyway…
The Saint Paul Collegiate Church manifests Romanesque, Baroque, and Counter-Reformation arts and architecture.
We can spot the Romanesque style from the church’s choir and four pillars that form a double-arched nave. It is perhaps the most recognizable design that we can see inside the Collegiate Church of Saint Paul.
As we start exploring, we notice the abundance of stucco and frescoes. They represent the Counter-Reformation art that flourished during the latter half of the 16th century until the 17th century.
The Baroque art can be found in the Collegiate Church’s Chapel of Saint Clement – the main attraction on the site. Visitors come to the chapel of Saint Clement to see the relics from the catacombs in Rome.
See the Remains of Saint-Paul de Vence’s Castle (The Keep or The Dungeon).
Did you know that there was a 12th-century castle inside the walls of Saint-Paul de Vence? If it is still in its entirety today, Saint-Paul de Vence would seem like a castle inside a castle!
Sadly, the castle is now gone, and all that is left for us to see is the keep. Other people call it the “dungeon.”
The removal of the majority of the parts of the castle was due to the improvement made for the village church we just discussed previously. Today, the keep is currently Saint-Paul de Vence’s town hall or “Mairie.”
On top of the keep is the bell cast in the mid 15th century. The bell has a Latin inscription: “hora est jam de somno suggere” – meaning, “the hours invite us to dream.”
Visiting the church and then the keep is a thing to do in Saint-Paul de Vence that will let us understand what matters most for the townsmen of the village back in the day.
Explore the bastioned wall of Saint-Paul de Vence.
Exploring the ramparts, for me, is a thing to do in Saint-Paul de Vene that we should not also miss. Not only because it is another historical spot, but it is where we can have the best views of the nearby landscapes.
Saint-Paul de Vence’s ramparts are “special” because it is the first French bastioned fortification designed by a French architect. So, that means visiting the ramparts is a big check on our travel bucket list!
The ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence were constructed in the 16th century and were classified as a Historic Monument in 1945. Though the ramparts are “special,” their construction forced many people to leave the town as their houses were demolished.
Today, the ramparts remind us of the military significance Saint-Paul de Vence used to have before.
A complete stroll in the perimeter of the ramparts would not be tiresome as it only goes for a kilometer in length. Besides, the scenic view of the landscapes and the surrounding villages while following the ramparts will keep us fascinated along the way.
We will encounter bastions where warriors stood to defend the walled city along the ramparts. If you’re watching TV series set in the medieval age, it’s a place that will help you imagine that you’re one of its characters!
Visit the famous tomb of Marc Chagall.
If we start our stroll along the ramparts at Saint-Paul de Vence’s northern portion, we’ll reach the village’s cemetery halfway.
I know the cemetery usually isn’t a place to be, but most people come here to visit the tomb of a famous artist called Marc Chagall. If you’re a fan of Marc Chagall, then this activity in this list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence is for you!
Marc Chagall lived in Saint-Paul de Vence for almost 20 years, from 1966 to 1985. Like Folon, he dedicated himself to the art and beauty of Saint-Paul de Vence. He painted the locals of the village, its ramparts, the surrounding landscape, etc.
Discover the wines of Saint-Paul de Vence.
As you sightsee along the ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence, one that you might notice are the vineyards growing in the countryside.
That should mean one thing: folks are making wine in Saint-Paul de Vence!
I believe checking the local wines isn’t something to be missed. It is a thing to do in Saint-Paul de Vence all of us must try! Even though we are not a fan of wines.
Here are the reasons why taste the wines in Saint-Paul de Vence:
- Saint-Paul de Vence wine culture has been existing for more than 2 millenniums. Locals have been growing vines since 600 BC, and without a doubt, they have perfected winemaking.
- The wines are authentic. An expert in organic and biodynamic winemaking supervises the harvesting by the hand of the grapes for both red and white wines. Quality at its best!
- Wine tasting happens in an exceptional 14th-century cellar that presents you with all high-quality wines from Saint-Paul de Vence and other places in France.
If you are interested in Saint-Paul de Vence’s wines, you can taste some in La Cave de Saint-Paul. They are open Monday to Sunday, from 11am until 7pm.
Find the hidden gems of Saint-Paul de Vence.
After we taste the wines, we go out of the La Cave de Saint Paul and return back to the quaint streets of the walled city. But do you know that the charming village is an artwork to discover too?
Yes, the village is!
… and it’s another thing to do in Saint-Paul de Vence! To find the artworks hidden in the village. Here are some of the most fascinating little details that you can discover in Saint-Paul de Vence medieval village:
Capture the most Instagrammable spots.
Little details in Saint Paul de Vence may be hard to find but not the Instagrammable spots! The walled city is just an absolute shutter-presser destination.
Well, I added this activity to this list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence, not because I want you or me to brag about our travels to our friends. But instead, to preserve the memories we will have in it.
I’m sure the photos we’ll take shall always remind us of the awe, fun, and experience we will create in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Here are some of the places that we can also visit and capture during our trip to this idyllic town:
La Miette: The most Instagrammable spots in Saint-Paul de Vence
Charming Flower decks
Watch people playing Pétanque.
If ever we feel hungry, we go to the Cafe de la Place – it’s a place where we can eat delicious French meals and, at the same time, watch folks play Petanque in Place de Gaulle.
Petanque, in a nutshell, is a “Provencal boules” game where players and teams play their boules or balls towards a target ball.
Many famous people have played this game in Place de Gaulle back in the day. It’s why Petanque became a well-known leisure activity in Saint-Paul de Vence.
If we ever want to learn how to play Petanque, we visit the Tourist Information Office. There, we can get a lesson on how to play Petanque.
The lesson lasts for 1 hour, and the fee is 7 EUR per person. Kids under 12 are free to join. Don’t worry about the language because they can teach us Petanque in English. We can reserve a lesson on these numbers: +33 (0)4 93 32 86 95.
Visit Maeght Fondation.
Place de Gaulle is almost outside of the walled city. From here, we can reach Maeght Fondation within 20 minutes on foot.
Checking Maeght Fondation is another unmissable thing to do in Saint-Paul de Vence. Why? Because it houses one of the “biggest” 20th-century art collections in Europe! Absolutely, it will be a check on our travel bucket list.
Maeght Fondation was established by two art dealer-publishers, Aime and Marguerite Maeght. Maeght couples were friends with the most important artists of the century, and they represented the artists in some events.
What’s unique about La Fondation Maeght is the concept of the exhibition. The place itself is timeless. Individual artworks, architecture, and nature are presented as one complete artwork.
Inside, there are paintings, sculptures, and graphic designs to see. They can be found in the garden, courtyards, and terraces, pleasing to the eyes.
In La Fondation Maeght, there is also a library, bookshop, and a chapel to visit. It is a fascinating place to visit to satisfy your artsy wanderlust and have a relaxing leisure time in Saint-Paul de Vence.
La Fondation Maeght is open to the public every day from 10 am until 7 pm during summer (July to August). For the rest of the year, opening hours start at 10 am until 6pm. You can enter the complex 30 minutes before closing time.
Hike outside the ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence.
Maeght Fondation is just one of the few things we can do outside the ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence. There are small chapels and vineyards to visit too.
We can as well rent a bike and roam around Saint-Paul de Vence commune. But I suggest that we hike instead.
Hiking outside the ramparts is the last thing I recommend in this list of things to do in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Hiking outside the ramparts will allow us to see and admire the walled city from afar and photograph it during golden hours. Besides, hiking is good for our health!
There are several hiking trails outside Saint-Paul de Vence but these two I think are more suitable for tourists planning to visit the town for a day or two:
- Saint-Paul de Vence Fortification Loop
- Saint-Paul de Vence to Vence Loop through Vallon du Malvan
Loop on the Fortifications of Saint-Paul de Vence
In this hiking trail, we will walk around the village of Saint-Paul de Vence, literally just outside and alongside the ramparts. Here, we can see stunning panoramas all around the walled city from the foot of the ramparts and bastions.
The start of the trail is at Place de Gaulle. When we face the ramparts from the plaza, we head right to the ramparts, and we just follow the path at the foot of Bastion du Dauphin.
The panoramic sceneries from the hiking trail include hectares of terraced vineyards, numerous orange trees, and olive trees – all used in Saint-Paul de Vence different industries like:
- Oil production
Aside from the panoramic views from the trail, we will also see the ramparts up close. We can pick up the small details of the walls first ever designed by a French architect.
Hiking outside the ramparts will only last 25 minutes, covering a 1.1-kilometer track of asphalt and earth tracks. If you want to know more about this hiking trail in Saint-Paul de Vence, you may check this PDF from the official website of the tourism office.
Saint-Paul de Vence to Vence Through Vallon du Malvan
However, if we are onto longer hiking trails with more landmarks to see, I suggest following this trail. Here, we will come across the home of Marc Chagall, Passe-Prest Convent, and the old oil mill.
This trail is the answer if we look for some kind of adventure in Saint-Paul de Vence. The track passes through Gardettes woods and a small valley of the Malvan River. A slight touch of nature!
The town of Vence is the halfway point of this hiking trail. It is another medieval village with several attractions like Chapelle du Rosaire, ancient washhouses, galleries, etc.
We can skip the returning track to Saint-Paul de Vence from the town of Vence by hopping on bus #400. The buses stop at the Marechal Juin roundabout.
This hiking trail (loop) is about 8 kilometers long, and it would take up to 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish. It starts at Saint-Paul de Vence’s Sainte-Claire crossroad, where we can find the yellow trail indicators to guide us in directions.
Do not forget to wear comfortable hiking shoes when hiking Saint-Paul de Vence to Vence trail. The track involves asphalt, earth, and rocky footpath. Check this link for more information about this hiking trail.
… So that’s it! That’s my list of things to do at Saint-Paul de Vence. What do you think? Will you go and visit Saint-Paul de Vence?
Is Saint-Paul de Vence Worth Visiting?
Saint-Paul de Vence is a beautiful walled city packed with quaint houses, charming alleys, and numerous art galleries, including Fondation Maeght. It is a place to be to satisfy your wanderlust for art and realize your medieval fantasies. Scenic views, seen from its ramparts, await you here too.
When to visit Saint-Paul de Vence, France?
Saint-Paul de Vence is a famous destination in southern France. It could be overcrowded during summer or peak season. The best time to visit Saint-Paul de Vence is during shoulder season when there is pleasant weather and less bustle.
Photos to inspire you to visit Saint-Paul de Vence France
If you cannot decide to visit Saint-Paul de Vence or not, here are some of the pictures taken inside the walled city to inspire you to go
Save it on Pinterest.
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