Last Sunday we packed our bags and stepped back in time, travelling to the famed village of Saint-Paul de Vence, a jewel in the heart of the Côte d’Azur.
Perched atop a hill and surrounded on all sides by sweeping valleys; Shuttered windows and delicate wrought-iron balconies decorate the narrow streets of the medieval village.
Once upon a time, St-Paul de Vence was a sleepy medieval village whose walled perimeter formed a protective barrier between itself and the outside world, but the arrival of eminent artistic figures such as Picasso and Matisse in the 1920s turned the village into a haven for artists. Later, the likes of Yves Montand and Roger Moore, solidified St-Paul’s status as a cultural and social hotspot.
A strong artistic legacy lives on within the countless art galleries that line the streets, greeting you at every at turn. Our accommodation was no exception, sitting at the end of a quiet, cobbled road, previously home to Jacques Prévert, a French poet and screenwriter. He took to St-Paul de Vence in 1941, where he wrote some of his most prestigious screenplays, contributing to the rise of the popularity of the area as a creative refuge.
“We should try to be happy, just to set an example”― Jacques Prévert
After a morning exploring the flowered paths, we opted for a long, lazy lunch in the secluded, walled gardens of La Colombe d’Or. Featuring a collection of art so extraordinary it could hang in the Tate Modern.
We were lead to our table, located underneath a leafy canopy, the bustle of the world outside dissipating under the impenetrable calm of the foliage. Our hosts regaled us with stories of Matisse and Picasso exchanging their paintings for lodgings and supper.
As we sat pondering the conversations that must have taken place within these garden walls, we filled our table with a platter of excellent cheeses and of course, washed down with one too many glasses of extremely good local wine.
We were shocked to learn 3 hours had passed us by in this serene setting, understanding how Colombe d’Or has been able to hold on to its magic to this day. We rounded off our lunch with espressos that were delivered with an intricate silver sugar-cube carousel, before settling up the handwritten cheque and eventually retreating home for the night.