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!
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