City Story: St Paul de Vence and surrounds
Known around the world for its perfume history, this region has much more than olfactory discoveries in its many romantic hilltop towns. Only a short drive away from the glittering coast of the French Riviera, it is well worth a detour to dip your toes into provençal life.
We kickstarted our discovery of the area with a visit to Tourrettes sur Loup. The streets were charming and still.
We felt like locals wandering along its cobbles, peeking into courtyards and down alleyways.
Valbonne is another more authentic of the villages. Be sure to visit on the first Sunday of the month. The streets will appear to be deserted but as you wonder down into the heart of the old town, you will begin to hear the distant hum of people.
When you reach the main square, Place des Arcades, you will be greeted with the most gorgeous antiques market heaving with excited shoppers, locals and foreigners alike.
If only we could ship it all back home to Australia!
St Paul de Vence, what can I say? It really deserves its own post because it is one of those places that has a magic that must be experienced to be believed. This medieval town sits majestically above the many valleys of the Alpes-Maritime region and is littered with artisan stores and art galleries.
As you enter the city walls (unfortunately surrounded by many tourists even when we visited in October), you catch glimpses of everyday life here with men playing pétanque underneath the shade of the plane trees as families sit watching on at Café de la Place.
Although there are museums, art galleries (Picasso did live and work here!) and fine dining restaurants to visit, one of the most magical things to do in St Paul de Vence, is simply to meander and get lost. Within its ramparts there is a loop around the village, so you will never get too lost.
Along the cobbles there are churches to discover (also a cool escape from the Provençal sun) and the incredible Fontaine de St Paul de Vence.
Make sure to walk along the top of the medieval ramparts for incredible views of the surrounding valleys and the cemetiere.
Grasse was the fourth and final stop on our tour of the hills.
It is the International home of perfume with its labor intensive production of jasmine and other rare scents such as lavender and rose. It is also renowned for producing ‘les nez’, the professionals who study for many years to do undoubtedly the most incredible job in the world, create perfumes!
You can learn all about the history of perfume and more at the Musée International de la Parfumerie. A visit to Fragnoard, one of the famous perfume houses in Grasse, is a must. You will gain an insight into all the behind-the-scenes of the traditional ‘parfumeries’.
There are also many beautiful hikes and water activities in this area that we would love to come back and experience.
We stayed at l’Escale du Ciel on the edge of the charismatic little town of le bar sur loup. Although the town is very quiet, its central location cannot be beaten for discovering this area.
As for the B&B itself, it truly is one of our favourite stays. The interiors are beautiful but practical, the views are breathtaking, the pool is perfection, the food is delicious and the host, Judith is incredible. Discover all of its charms in my previous post.
This area has many incredible places to eat. But, after our enormous French breakfasts at l’Escale du Ciel and being completely engrossed in our daily explorations, we often visited a local boulangerie and bakery, took our delightful finds home and enjoyed them over a glass of Rosé as we watched the sun set. It truly was the perfect way to end our day and trip to this beautiful region.
Xx The Strawberry Story
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