Whenever I'm talking to people from other countries, as I say that I come from Italy everybody goes like "Wow, it must be a dream! The history, the food, the sun, the sea...". Well, it's not exactly like that. While the first two might be found everywhere in the "Bel Paese", in my region we don't have much sun, and we definitely have no sea either. Although I was lucky enough to discover a true gem not too far from the gray city I live in - Saint-Paul de Vence!
Northern Italy is quite different from the usual postcards you get from Rome, Capri, Sicily and Sardinia. We have the Alps and some beautiful cities too – Venice, Verona, Padua, but we don’t have such a blue sea as in the South, and the weather here is either cold and foggy or hot and sultry. From April to September each year my self-preservation instinct is mostly stuck to the orange alert, and whenever I feel I can’t take the traffic and the hectic city life anymore, I have some “secret places” to go to recharge my batteries. I’ve found one of my own little corners in the wonderful inland parts of Southern France.
During a school trip when I still was in junior high, we went to visit the French Riviera: Cannes, Nice and Monaco, with a quick stop in a lovely medieval town in the Alps-Maritime Department. That was my first time in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Saint-Paul, as it is also called, is well known for its many museums and galleries of both modern and contemporary art, like the Fondation Maeght, founded in 1964 featuring works by Bonnard, Mirò, Braque and Chagall among others.
Saint-Paul is also famous for the artists who have lived there, like famous French poet Jacques Prévert, artists Marc Chagall, Théodore Tobiasse and Giuliano Mancini, actors Yves Montard, Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura and Donald Pleasence, and American expatriate writer James Baldwin.
What I love the most about this little village is the silence, the sunny-but-not-too-hot weather, the peaceful atmosphere you feel while walking in its streets, the tiny, artsy boutiques, the fountain in the centre of the town, the historical buildings and the amazing view on the green lands surrounding the town. Everything is lovely, neat, and relaxing. Saint-Paul is a great place to spend the weekend or a longer time, maybe enjoying the rest of the French Riviera as well.
All pictures were taken by me with a Kodak disposable camera back in 2004 during the above mentioned school trip [I was 14 back then]. Additional info on this beautiful town can be found at http://www.saint-pauldevence.com/