Saint-Paul is a charming and historic city located in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the south of France. Known for its picturesque setting and rich cultural heritage, Saint-Paul offers visitors a delightful blend of history, art, and natural beauty. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Saint-Paul.
1. Saint-Paul-de-Vence Village
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Begin your exploration with a visit to the heart of the city, the medieval village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. This fortified village is enclosed by ancient ramparts and is renowned for its narrow, winding streets, art galleries, and charming boutiques. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the medieval atmosphere as you discover the beautiful architecture and quaint squares.
2. Fondation Maeght
Art enthusiasts must not miss the Fondation Maeght, a renowned modern art museum located in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. This cultural institution houses an impressive collection of contemporary art, including works by renowned artists such as Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and Alberto Giacometti. Explore the museum’s vast sculpture garden, which features sculptures by prominent artists set against the backdrop of the stunning French Riviera.
3. La Colombe d’Or
Indulge in a culinary delight at La Colombe d’Or, a legendary restaurant and hotel located in Saint-Paul. This iconic establishment has a rich history of hosting renowned artists and writers, and its walls are adorned with original artworks gifted by the artists in exchange for meals and lodging. Enjoy a gourmet meal in the charming courtyard or under the shade of the olive trees while immersing yourself in the artistic ambiance.
4. Ramparts and Views
Take a walk along the ancient ramparts that encircle Saint-Paul, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. The ramparts provide a tranquil and picturesque setting, perfect for capturing memorable photographs. Don’t forget to visit the Tour de l’Esperon, a medieval tower that offers breathtaking views of the village and the French Riviera.
5. Chapelle Folon
Visit Chapelle Folon, a unique chapel dedicated to the works of Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon. This chapel combines art and spirituality, featuring beautiful stained glass windows, sculptures, and paintings by Folon. The peaceful and contemplative atmosphere makes it an ideal place for reflection and introspection.
6. Local Producers and Markets
Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the markets and tasting the regional produce. Saint-Paul hosts a weekly market where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, olives, and other local delicacies. You can also visit nearby vineyards and olive groves to learn about the traditional production methods and sample the exquisite wines and olive oils of the region.
7. Hiking and Nature
Surrounding Saint-Paul are beautiful natural landscapes, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore the nearby Baou de Saint-Jeannet, a limestone mountain that offers hiking trails with stunning views over the French Riviera. You can also visit the Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur, a regional nature park, to enjoy various outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and picnicking.
8. Château de Saint-Paul
Explore the Château de Saint-Paul, a magnificent castle that dates back to the 9th century. This well-preserved fortress offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history and architectural heritage. Discover the castle’s impressive towers, courtyards, and medieval rooms as you learn about its significance throughout the centuries. The castle also hosts art exhibitions and cultural events, adding to its allure.
9. Saint-Paul Art Galleries
Saint-Paul is renowned for its thriving art scene, and the village is dotted with numerous art galleries showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles. Wander through the narrow streets and discover contemporary artworks, paintings, sculptures, and photography by both local and international artists. Many galleries also offer the opportunity to meet the artists and gain insights into their creative processes.
10. Saint-Paul Events and Festivals
Experience the vibrant cultural life of Saint-Paul by attending one of its lively events or festivals. The village hosts several annual events that celebrate art, music, and local traditions. For example, the Saint-Paul-de-Vence International Chamber Music Festival attracts renowned musicians from around the world, offering exceptional classical music performances in stunning venues. Keep an eye out for other festivals and events throughout the year that showcase the city’s artistic and cultural heritage.
11. Matisse Chapel
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Just a short distance from Saint-Paul, you’ll find the stunning Matisse Chapel (Chapelle du Rosaire) in Vence. Designed by the legendary artist Henri Matisse, this unique chapel is a true masterpiece of modern art and architecture. The chapel’s interior features vibrant stained glass windows, colorful ceramic tiles, and original artworks by Matisse, creating a serene and contemplative atmosphere.
12. Beaches and Mediterranean Coast
While Saint-Paul itself is located inland, the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera are within easy reach. Take a short drive to the nearby coastal towns of Nice, Antibes, or Cannes to enjoy the sun, sand, and turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Relax on the beaches, indulge in water sports, or explore the vibrant coastal cities and their attractions.
13. Saint-Paul Markets
Explore the local markets of Saint-Paul to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and discover the flavors of the region. The village hosts several markets where you can find fresh produce, local specialties, and unique artisanal products. Enjoy the bustling ambiance as you browse through stalls selling cheese, charcuterie, fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, lavender products, and more. Engage with the friendly vendors, sample the delicious offerings, and take home a taste of Provence.
14. Les Vieux Moulins
Visit Les Vieux Moulins, an enchanting olive oil mill located in the outskirts of Saint-Paul. Learn about the traditional olive oil production process, from the harvesting of olives to the pressing and bottling of the oil. Take a guided tour of the mill to gain insights into the history and techniques of olive oil making in the region. You can also taste a variety of high-quality olive oils and purchase some to savor the flavors of Provence at home.
15. Wine Tasting
Embark on a wine tasting adventure by visiting the local vineyards and wineries surrounding Saint-Paul. The region of Provence is renowned for its excellent wines, especially its rosés. Take a guided tour of a vineyard, stroll through the vineyards, and learn about the winemaking process. Indulge in wine tastings to savor the diverse range of flavors and aromas produced in the region. Some wineries also offer wine-pairing experiences, where you can enjoy the wines alongside local culinary delights.
16. Outdoor Activities
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The natural beauty surrounding Saint-Paul provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore the nearby Gorges du Loup, a picturesque canyon offering hiking trails, rock climbing, and canyoning adventures. If you’re seeking a more relaxed outdoor experience, take a leisurely bike ride along the scenic countryside or enjoy a picnic by the river. The region’s mild climate makes it pleasant to engage in outdoor activities throughout the year.
17. Provençal Cuisine
Indulge in the flavors of Provençal cuisine by dining at the local restaurants in Saint-Paul. Sample classic dishes such as bouillabaisse (fish stew), ratatouille (vegetable stew), and socca (a savory chickpea pancake). Many restaurants in Saint-Paul focus on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, allowing you to savor the authentic flavors of the region. Pair your meal with a glass of local wine or a refreshing glass of pastis, a traditional Provençal anise-flavored apéritif.
Enjoy a round of golf at one of the nearby golf courses. The mild climate and beautiful landscapes make this region a popular destination for golf enthusiasts. Take in the stunning views of the French Riviera as you navigate the greens and fairways of the courses. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, you’ll find courses suitable for all skill levels.
While Saint-Paul has a tranquil ambiance, you can still enjoy a lively evening by exploring the nightlife options in the surrounding cities. Visit the vibrant city of Nice to discover a wide range of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Enjoy a cocktail with a view of the Mediterranean, dance the night away, or attend a live performance at one of the theaters or concert halls.
Places and Things To Do