At a short distance from the French Riviera’s coastline, a wonderful backcountry awaits you. If you are interested in the past, art, and local heritage, the town of Vence and its 20 centuries of history are awaiting you at the foot of the Col de Vence, nestled between valley and mountain. Follow in the footsteps of Matisse, Dufy, or Chagall… Take the time to marvel at the town’s beauty, you will certainly not regret it.
Here are some “gems of Vence” to admire:
The old town of Vence:
Within the elliptical 13th-century fortifications, the old town of Vence, huddled in the shade of high stone walls, is made of lovely little squares and houses that have witnessed the passing of centuries. We highly recommend you enjoy a stroll through this marvellous place, packed with workshops, art galleries, and fantastic eateries.
The smallest cathedral in France:
Concealed behind a colourful porch, this is the perfect illustration of Ligurian baroque; step into Notre Dame cathedral and discover its interior bathed in cooling shade, in a typical Mediterranean style. Visit the upper story and admire the polychrome wooden statuary dating from the 16th to the 18th century, featuring remarkable expressivity. Former artists have bequeathed this collection of highly spiritual and moving works.
The great ash of Vence,
A remarkable tree planted in the 16th century; every year, as spring comes around, it continues to astonish local residents by its resilience. It is a leafy testimony to centuries past. This ancestor merits your visit.
The Tourism Office and the Gombrowicz space:
The office is housed in a splendid building, the Villa Alexandrine, built in 1911, during the Belle Epoque. It has been renovated, and its beautifully preserved frescoes have been cleaned. It is a wonderful place to visit, staffed by gentle and kind employees. On the top floor, there is a space dedicated to the famous Polish philosopher, who spent the end of his life in Vence, in this very villa.
Discover the Atelier Français:
This lovely little boutique, with a tearoom facing Vence’s museum of modern art, is developing a fully “Made in France” concept. Modern and refined interior, at the height of fashion, with a fascinating bar selling jewellery, along with smart and charming toys… The friendly owner of this concept store will give you the friendliest of welcomes.
Breakfast or ice-cream at the Régence,
On Place du Grand Jardin. This brasserie has hosted many artists who come here to enjoy summer afternoons on its sun-drenched terrace! The menu features delicious Mediterranean specialities, which have earnt the eatery its stellar reputation. La Régence is a popular local venue, surrounded by restaurants and friendly bars. It is an invitation to enjoy a relaxed and easy atmosphere.
The Matisse Chapel, also known as the Chapelle du Rosaire,
This Chapel was erected and decorated from 1949 to 1951 under the guidance of the famous artist. Amateurs of baroque art and sophisticated compositions, there is nothing for you here. The chapel is an example of simplicity. Inside, the light shines through narrow red, green, and blue stained-glass windows… It contrasts in the most wonderful way with the austerity of a place that has been entirely designed for prayer.
Vence is the favourite town of tourists, who come back every year. Far from the bustle of the coast (although not too far), its appeal lies in its sense of refined and authentic “dolce vita”. It would be a pity to miss such beauty and warmth clustered around the elliptical fortifications of the old town.