Saint-Paul-de-Vence: The Prettiest Hilltop Village in France
In this post: Do you love charming European hilltop villages? For a peek at one of the loveliest, check out Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the South of France.⇒
There’s nothing more blissful for a person who loves French Country style than visiting the actual French countryside and spending a charming few hours in one of the most picturesque towns. I had that privilege not that long ago when we traveled to the South of France and found ourselves one late afternoon in the prettiest hilltop village in France, Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
Now, I should clarify in case you’re not one of my regular readers, this is a design blog and so you won’t find practical travel information here. But I realized it’s been a while since I did a travel post and with spring on the horizon and the travel season near, I wanted to share the visual beauty of this place and how its oh-so-French lifestyle is such an inspiration to me.
For starters, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is way up on a hilltop, with magnificent vistas of the lush countryside below. Now, anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t do well with heights, but the ride up here was tame and while the roads were narrow, they were mostly free of hairpin turns.
The medieval village is set up like an enclave, literally rimmed by stone ramparts, apparently once needed for fortification. As you approach, you can’t help but be struck by the beauty of the terraced stone structures that lie within.
Just barely inside the town entrance, one is met by the fabled La Colombe D’Or, a restaurant (and hotel) with an impeccable reputation and an even more storied artistic heritage.
Wandering the streets is an absolute joy and our arrival near dusk played well to that spirit. I’ve always loved the late afternoon. There’s a quiet in the streets as the day is winding down, yet there’s an undercurrent of excitement for the coming evening. For me, it’s one of the most relaxed times of the day.
These days what Saint-Paul-de-Vence is most well known for is an array of delightful shops and art galleries that pepper the town, paying homage to its past as home to many brilliant artists, some of whose work remains in town. Chagall is buried here in an ancient cemetery and Picasso, Matisse and Miró have all passed through.
As a counterbalance to all that beautiful stone, the village is graced with lovely plantings, as well, in fact just what you’d expect from a French country garden.
Shuttered windows and terra-cotta pots add color to the landscape and Provençal charm.
Narrow winding streets are perfectly suited for meandering about the village to enjoy all it has to offer. We arrived just in time to catch most of the shops still open, but the afternoon crowds had already departed.
Windows and doors are often the most enchanting aspects of European villages and Saint-Paul held it’s own on that score. This graceful gated balcony with potted topiaries is only one example in a town brimming with such gentility.
As the galleries began to close, we found our way back to La Colombe D’Or for an early evening drink as they started to set up for dinner. This stunning terrace is graced with works of art, as is the rest of the grounds, and when I say works of art, I’m referring to the brilliant artists I mentioned above.
Inside at the bar, a more rustic ambiance reigns.
The lovely hotel that adjoins the restaurant casually displays pedigreed artwork even around the swimming pool.
Can you think of anything more relaxing than a pre-dinner drink at an iconic restaurant in the prettiest hilltop village in France?
As the day draws to a close here, it’s hard to remember what stress is. My only thought is bring on the night…
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Wow what a wonderful place to visit. Your pictures are wonderful. Love the last picture and the capture of that basket handle wrapped around the tall jug on the windowsill.
Thank you so much, Liz!! I love how you appreciate the tiniest details which are what really make the ordinary special… 🙂 Not that Saint-Paul is ordinary, but it’s just those kinds of details that really add to it’s character. Thanks for visiting and always taking the time to comment!!
So beautiful. Looks just like a post card, how amazing you were able to view this in person.
Have a beautiful French countryside day.
p.s. Love all the pretty flowers. Can’t wait to plant mine. Not till May.
Thanks, Rose!! I dream of going back to this wonderful village all the time. But there’s so much else to see! I have a few more towns to share from this same trip and will do so in future posts… 🙂 I love flowers, too!!
What a fun tour and what a great lil town…………So Beautiful……….
We lived in Germany 40 yrs. ago and visited Paris……….there is just nothing like the european culture and architecture.
I always loved those lil narrow streets, and love that they are never in a rush when they are eating and their is sort
of a sweet formality to their meals…………
Thanks for sharing your trip and all these lovely pictures, so enjoyed them. Loved that balcony with the blue shutters and all the plants, so neat. Just so much fun to see all the pretty terrain.
How lucky for you that you got to live in Europe for a while!! What a wonderful experience that must’ve been. Yes, I’m a huge Europhile and can’t get enough of travel there… 🙂 I’m so glad this post was appreciated. I had gotten away from posting about travel since my readers are mostly interested in decor, but it seems we all appreciate the travel that inspires our home decor, so I’m thinking I may get back to adding more travel posts into the mix.
Merci de m’avoir fait profiter de ton beau voyage
Les images de ton point de vue et tes mots
Je vous en prie. Merci de la visite et des mots aimables!!
How beautiful. I could look at those pictures all day. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Pat! So glad they were appreciated. It’s actually fun for me to share, because I get to re-live the trip… 🙂
All of these pictures look like they are from a postcard! Such a pretty town, I find the little narrow streets in Europe so charming (but also scary if you’re driving them!). Thanks for sharing your trip with us!
Thanks so much, Angelina! Yes, lovely and scary at the same time. But I’ll take the small village streets any day over the gorgeous but terrifying cliffside roads. Perhaps my next travel post will be of one of those way high up cliff towns that are stunning but oh-so-scary… 😉 Thanks for visiting!
Beautiful post, full of lovely photos of France. The hilltop show cases so many wonderful old buildings. There is so much history. I never tire of looking at the photos. We spent two weeks in France. A barge trip down the Burgundy and then Paris.
Ooooh, a barge trip! I’d love to do that!! And burgundy – my favorite wines are from the region, but I’ve never been. Hope to get there some time and I love the idea of a barge trip… 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me!!
Seeing your photos of St. Paul de Vence makes me want to book a trip to France tonight! For years I traveled as a chaperone with high school students visiting France and got to see many small French villages, including St. Paul de Vence more than once. Your photos remind me of all the reasons we love France.
Oh, gosh, how lucky for you!! What a wonderful way to travel and see these gorgeous places through the eyes of teenagers… 🙂 Our kids were not with us on this trip, but we have taken them to Europe and it doubles the pleasure to see their reactions along with our own. I’m a firm believer in instilling the travel bug in your kids if you can, because it makes them so open to the world and its cultures. Thanks for stopping by!
How gorgeous your trip was…getting lost in those narrow streets. Thanks so much for the tour, Sandi
My absolute pleasure, Sandi! Thanks for the kind words and for joining me as I shared this lovely village… 🙂
Dear Lory, this is a most beautiful post. Your photograph are sensational. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely hilltop village with us. Many of us would not know of it and what a shame that would be.
My pleasure, Gina! How lovely to know that the post is appreciated… 🙂 It was such a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for stopping by!!
LOVED THE ARMCHAIR TRAVEL RESPITE–.BEAUTIFUL! THERE ARE SO MANY PLACES I HAVEN’T YET SEEN BUT, HOPEFULLY, WE’LL GET TO DO MORE LONG-RANGE TRAVELING WHEN OUR HOME REDO IS COMPLETED. THE PICTURES LOOK SO PROFESSIONAL, LORY.
Thanks, Bobbi! There are still so many places on my list too… 🙂 Hopefully we’ll both get to see all we want to see!!
Damn! Lucky you!
🙂 It was a nice trip. I’d love to go back, but there are so many other lovely villages to see, as well! Thanks for stopping by!
You’ve captured some beautiful pictures, Lory! I can see why France is close to your heart. These photos make me want to jump on a plane tomorrow 🙂
Thanks, Julie! Yeah, they make me want to go back too… 😉 Hard to mess up photos of such a gorgeous place!!
Loved studying these pics. Thanks!
Those flowers growing on the wall beside the charming door! Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for taking me around the world on a rainy morning.
You’re most welcome and thank you for the kind words… 🙂 This trip was actually last year, so it was fun for me to re-live it too!
Lory, this just couldn’t be any prettier. The village reminds me of a fairy tale because it’s so beautiful and clean. Where are the throngs of people? This trip must have been a dream come true.
Thanks for sharing with us at Thoughts of Home on Thursday. 🙂
Ah, my pleasure, Stacey!! The throngs probably left by the time we got there. I have very peculiar timing… lol! We had actually intended to get there earlier, but it was a beautiful day so we stayed by the pool at our hotel for longer than expected. By the time we arrived, we were lucky to still catch a few shops open. It’s probably why the light in some of the photos is not so bright. It wasn’t cloudy… it was nearing evening! Lol… 🙂
Wow! Such a beautiful place to visit, I wouldn’t want to come home! Such lovely architecture.
Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
Thank you so much for hosting and for the feature!! Always such a nice surprise to see… 🙂
I have added this to my “So you want to tour France” pinterest board. Your post was truly a joy to read and I hope that you will continue adding your ray of sunshine every week on Thoughts of Home on Thursdays.
Wow, thanks so much, Laura!! I will be delighted to… 🙂 What a lovely comment!!
Hi lory – you had me dreaming of France so much! And you’ve been featured on Dishing It & Digging It this week!! Hope you’ll head over to check it out and link up what you’ve been up to lately.
Heather, thank you so much, for hosting and for the feature!! I certainly did head over… 🙂 Thanks again!
gorgeous! i am going to look through your other travel posts in case you have any tips/photos for my trip this summer to austria and germany. i was enchanted by etretat, in the normandy area of france, and another village called lyon a foret. all the shops were closed for the afternoon, but we were able to enjoy a delicious meal.
Thank you so much!! Unfortunately, I do not have a post on Austria or Germany. Vienna is way up on my list but have never been yet. I’ve been to several cities in Germany but never with my good camera, so I guess I’ll have to go back… 😉 I do have several posts from France and Italy and quite a few more coming in the near future, and if luck holds out, later in the year… maybe Greece! Thanks for stopping by!!
Great pics Lory, thanks for sharing! I prefer the south-west myself but I will admit it’s pretty 🙂
Thanks! I guess I’ll have to try the southwest next… 😉
Your photos are amazing! I dream of visiting this village and hope to very soon!r
Thank you and I hope you get there! It is quite wonderful… 🙂
Hi Lory. I’m new to your blog. What wonderful pictures of Saint Paul. My sister and I were there last September. It was an extra excursion on our tour, and I had been there before but I wanted her to see it. It was also late afternoon. Did some shopping and had a wonderful dinner with fellow tourists. One of my favorite towns!
Welcome, Linda! Yes, Saint Paul de Vence is truly exceptional. I would love to return and have more time to shop the galleries… 🙂
Wow, your pictures are absolutely gorgeous, they are all favorites! Looks like a great place to visit. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you so much, Mary!!
Such a beautiful place and thank you for sharing … hopefully one of these days I will get to travel there
Lovely, lovely, lovey. And though not a structural engineer, I would hesitate to garden on some of those beautiful but not noticeably well supported balconies. Just admire them from below!
Dear Lory: What a beautiful destination. The first photo reminded me of the narrow streets of Mykonos, Greece. We were so fortunate and blessed to travel to so many wonderful places when we were younger. At those times we said we would travel while we were able and pay for those times when we were older. Well we have reached that time and only travel to resorts within driving distance. You MUST travel now! All you will have eventually are memories. Enjoy! Linda
Thank you so much for this comment! We visited Mykonos last June and it was blissful… 🙂 I will pay heed to this advice as best I can!
Oh Lory, your post brought back such a flood of happy memories of visiting St. Paul de Vence many years ago with my late husband and our 2 children! Yes it is absolutely the most beautiful village, and believe it when I say its beauty and charm have not changed over the years. We bought a painting in one of the galleries, and it still graces the walls of my house as a happy reminder of that trip. Thank you for your post!
What a lovely comment!! So glad the post resonated with you and brought back happy memories… 🙂
Lori – What memories your post brought back to me. It is one of my fondest memories of France. My husband, daughter, and I were there several years ago. Hope to make it back some day. Thank you for the post.
Thank you so very much for the absolutely stunning pictures that you posted today. I can’t travel now but one day when I can again you have made it my hearts desire to go to France.
I was lucky enough to go to France in the fall THIS WAS BY FAR MY FAVORITE PLACE OF ALL. Was on a tour and did not get to spend much time there and most of the shops were closed…BUT IT WAS DELIGHTFUL IN EVERY WAY!!!!! It has charm like non other….there were not many people there that day and it was raining..which added to the magical charm!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PLACE AND HOPE TO GO BACK! Thanks for the joy you bring to all of us who follow you…and to the amazing French ideas that we can incorporate into our homes and lives!
What a lovely comment and I’m so glad you loved this gorgeous little village as much as I did!!
ps and please please please…continue to post travel ideas!!!!
I’m so glad to hear this because I’m never sure how well the travel posts will be received. I have a new one coming up soon, so be on the lookout!
What a lovely post, and a great way to start my day. These photos as well as your descriptions, are absolutely stunning. This brought back memories of the town my Mom is from in Italy. Winding narrow roads, rows of stone houses and shops with more charm than one can imagine, and gorgeous vistas. Thank you so much. I truly enjoyed it! Have a lovely weekend.
Thank you so much, Joanne! Well, these comments have convinced me to do the post I’ve been trying to decide whether to do from a recent trip to Italy… 😉
Oh my, so very lovely and charming! It has always been my dream to visit the French and English countrysides. I enjoyed these pics so much of France. So, thank you for sharing!
I’d love to see more of the French countryside, too, and the English countryside is wonderful, as well. I just loved the Cotswolds!!
Oh my…now I am daydreaming about a visit. Stunning and gorgeous and I MUST go. Thank you for sharing.
Yes! Book it now… 🙂 You will love it!
St. Paul de vence is my very favorite French hill top village. When I saw your picture I knew exactly where it was. In fact I have 2 pictures of that same spot. The first one was taken with my 5 year old granddaughter and the second was of her sitting there as an adult
That is so awesome!! How lovely to have 2 pics of her in the same gorgeous spot… 🙂
I live in southwestern Ontario and we visited Paris, Lyon and the French Riviera end of March into mid April about 3 years ago. I am a photographer so spent everyday of our 3 week stay taking day trips to a different hill town. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the prettiest. A year later, at the age of 70, we moved from a 9 year old, two bedroom, two bathroom adult lifestyle bungalow that we outgrew into a 4 bedroom 4 bathroom two story and I have been following your blog and decorating most of my home in a French Country style using furniture from the 60s and 70s and a few new pieces. It is a work in progress. I have always had silver pieces and have been collecting more along with Limoges china to compliment my White Wedgewood. I really love your style Lori and so happy I happened along your blog. A couple of weeks ago I filled my home with fresh, spring flowers, some real, some faux. Thanks for all the inspiration!
First, I’m glad I’m not the only one who prefers a little more space, even as I get older… LOL!! I appreciate your kind words and it sounds like you’re really appreciating living with things you love! Your trip sounds wonderful too… 🙂
Theses pictures are so very pretty. I love the homes, the stucco on the houses are like what we put on a home that we built here in Indiana. I couldn’t help but notice that on the balconies there are no outside chairs. Was just wondering doesn’t anyone set out on them ?
I’m not sure, but it’s possible that since we were there in April, they don’t put chairs out until the summer months?
I’m familiar with the limestone in Indiana… 🙂 My daughter went to IU, one of the most beautiful schools I’ve ever seen!
I lived in France and loved this town as well as Eze. When I brought each child to Europe for the first time, aka France, this is where we came as introduction. So many delights, And don’t forget the unique galette to this area street food made with garbanzo flour.
How incredibly lucky to live in France! Must’ve been wonderful… 🙂 I never made it to Eze because I was terrified of the cliffside roads but the photos look gorgeous!
It’s worth the trip; especially as Fragonard’s factory is there!
Yes!! I bought the most lovely Fragonard embroidered napkins there… 🙂
What a peaceful, beautiful town – I loved all of the gardens and architecture! On my bucket list to be sure!
Reading about France and all it’s beauty! We finally have a chance to visit if all plans don’t get postponed again. The cobblestones and balconies are just breath taking. Your photos of the villages makes it look so serene…which I hear that it is. I keep saving these sort of posts for helpful tips to use when we go. Thank you for sharing!