Exploring Vence

We were heading to St Paul de Vence later in the day but decided first to make a stop en route in the smaller and less well known little town of Vence – a good call. Just an easy thirty minute drive from Cannes, it was just gorgeous. We all loved this old town, nestled in the pine and cypress covered hills.

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A free car park put a smile on Husband’s face – a rarity indeed in this part of the world. We walked the short distance to the old town area and spent an hour or so just wandering.

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This place has long been a magnet for writers and artists – very easy to see why that should be. Matisse, Chagall and many other artists were attracted by the town, countryside and beautiful views. DH Lawrence died here in 1930 and was buried in Vence for a few years before being exhumed and his ashes sent to Mexico.

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The town still attracts well heeled visitors who want to escape the crowds at the coast. Apparently the open-air market is one of the best in the region. Held on the main square on a Tuesday, we visited on a different day so didn’t get to check that out.

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I loved the old town  – so different to most of the other medieval Provencal places we explored. First up it is not on a rocky outcrop with views to the sea.

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The main difference though is that the historic centre is circular and retains all its fortifications intact. These are now a ring of ancient houses rather than stone walls with five gateways allowing entrance and access into the centre.

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These 13th century fortifications are so well preserved because in the 15th century it was agreed houses could be built against the walls. Later these could not be demolished to make way for streets and boulevards as happened in many medieval towns – the clever planners of Vence.

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We walked through one of those gateways and just wandered. Numerous small art galleries, a labyrinth of narrow streets all cobbled and close together it is strolling heaven.

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Son was particularly taken with the vast number of cats hanging out and laying claim to a sunny spot here and there.

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A thoroughly delightful place, empty of tourists and another gem we had all to ourselves, I was glad we’d detoured from St Paul de Vence to experience its lovely neighbour.

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30 thoughts on “Exploring Vence

  1. This is definitely strolling heaven indeed Joy!! I have heard of St Paul de Vence of course and just assumed this would be the same place! How wonderful that you had Vence to yourselves – it’s so gorgeous! I love that soft coloured stone, the shutters and the burst of colour with the red flowers. It looks so peaceful and charming and am not surprised so many artists and writers have been drawn here not to mention the discerning cats! I love cats and can see why they’d love hanging out in the sun here! I’ve really enjoyed reading this – just on a quick cuppa break 🙂 It hasn’t been a very good week as my little baby granddaughter spent 3 nights in hospital with viral induced wheeze and I have been visiting a lot (they live the other side of Perth). She was discharged yesterday and I looked after her as her parents had to work – fortunately she was fine albeit still recovering much to my relief! Am just off to pick Monsieur up from the airport as he’s been over East for a conference since mid week and then we’ll go and visit the family. Hope to get my post finished tomorrow – just had to let everything slide these past few days. Hope you’ve had a good week and enjoy the weekend and hopefully the Indian Summer! 🙂

    • It’s a beautiful spot Rosemary, everyone else seems to flock to St Paul de Vence, not sure why they don’t come here but we weren’t complaining!! It was nice to compare the two places and have this one all to ourselves. The cats have good taste! Hope your little granddaughter is well on the mend now, that must have been very frightening for all of you. We’re definitely enjoying and making the most of the sunshine here – it’s been a wonderful week!

      • Isn’t it funny how people flock to some places but not others Joy? I would much prefer a quieter place anyway and Vence would be right up my street. Let’s hope it stays tranquil and slightly off the tourist track! Yes thanks so much – she’s on the mend now and seems to be back to her usual exuberant self. It was scary though and I didn’t even see her when she was really bad as both those times happened later in the day when I was home. Never enjoy hospitals at the best of times and she didn’t either – she was very stroppy with the nurses so relieved that she has picked up so much after being discharged 🙂 It’s been so cold here by our standards dropping down to 4 or 5 degrees at night and that hasn’t been helping the flu bugs. Sunny today at last!! I can really understand how it must feel when it’s cold and grey so much and how happy you feel when the sun comes out as we’ve had an unusually cold and grey winter here. Enjoy the lovely weather and have a great week! 🙂

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