Virtual Vacation: St.-Paul-de-Vence

Virtual Vacation: St.-Paul-de-Vence

There’s no shortage of charming villages in France and while there are still many on my bucket list, I’ll never tire of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Between the winding cobblestone streets, the remnants of some of the greatest artists and literary greats, and quaint restaurants with breathtaking views, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is worth venturing the short (and beautiful) drive on the winding roads if you’re visiting the South of France. Perched high on a hilltop, It just might arguably be one of the most beautiful villages in the Cote d’Azur…if not the entire country itself. 

Fun Facts

Singer Line Renaud: © Office de Tourisme de Saint-Paul de Vence – Photographe: Jacques Gomot

—Originally known as Saint-Paul, the village acquired the name Saint-Paul-de-Vence because of its proximity to the commune of Vence. This was a smart idea as it differentiated this dream world from nine other French villages bearing the same name. The cognomen Saint-Paul-de-Vence became official in 2011.     

—Saint-Paul was a border stronghold in the Middle Ages (1388) when the County of Nice switched its allegiance from Provence to the County of Savoy. It remained a border town until 1860 when Savoy was annexed to France.

—The village became more accessible in 1911 due to a newly erected tramway between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Vence, via Saint-Paul. Aside from attracting curious visitors, the new method of transportation also made it possible to export

—During the roaring ‘20s, Saint-Paul started to attract what we now know as some of the greatest artists in the world— Paul Signac, Chaïm Soutine, and Raoul Dufy were among the artisans at the forefront. Captivated by the rich array of colors and natural lighting, the tranquil village was their muse.

—While the Côte d’Azur  has long been associated as a playground for the rich and famous, Saint-Paul-de-Vence was on their radar, too. The paradisiacal village has attracted the likes of an array of notable personalities, to include Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, James Baldwin, Marc Chagall, Charlie Chaplin, Vittorio de Sica, Curt Jurgens, Orson Welles, Line Renaud, Liza Minnelli, Kirk Douglas, Gene Wilder, and Michael Caine, to name a few.

—When you’re walking on the beautiful Provencal-style cobblestone streets, take note that they were barren until the ‘50s when Mayor Marius Issert turned the streets into what you can see today. Also interesting, the very first cobbles were brought back from the beach at Cagnes sur Mer.

Where To Stay

Photo courtesy of La Mas De Pierre

La Colombe d’Or: One can’t discuss lodging options in Saint-Paul-de-Vence without suggesting this historic gem. Back in 1920, the property was known as a cafe and bar called Chez Robinson. In an effort to support his wife Baptistine (Titine), its proprietor—painter/art collector Paul Roux—made additions to the property so that it could facilitate a small three-room inn known as Colombe d’Or. At this time, it served as an artist’s playground for legends such as Picasso and Matisse. Their work, along with pieces from several other greats, still resides in the hotel today for your viewing pleasure. Over the years, the property became a sought-after retreat for celebrities and A-listers alike. Luckily, the Colombe d’Or of today can accommodate more guests—it boasts 13 rooms and 12 suites to be exact. You’ll find modern-day conveniences such as dry cleaning and room service. Speaking of food, even if you’re not a guest, you’re going to want to eat at the on-site restaurant. The menu features quintessential Provencal-style dishes such as stuffed baby vegetables, baked Provençal tomatoes, and a variety of fresh fish and meat dishes. If you visit in the warm weather months, you’ll be treated to the secret garden-like outdoor terrace.  As of the this post, room rates range between 250 and 430 euros per night depending on room selection and season.

Le Saint Paul: Also conveniently located within the village, this five star property (a previous residence from the 16th century) possesses 16 rooms and terrace suites with sweeping views of the Medieval village and area surroundings. Take a meal out on the sprawling terrace where you can choose from menu items that correspond with the season. It’s worth taking an extra cup of coffee (or glass of wine) to soak up the awe-inspiring environs the French way—by taking your time. As of this post, room rates range between 250 and 630 euros per night depending on room selection and season.

Le Mas de Pierre: I had the pleasure of recently staying at this Eden and let’s just say that I didn’t want to leave! Le Mas de Pierre is a five-star boutique hotel (Relais and Chateaux) that’s located just on the outskirts of town. A mas, to be clear, is defined as a Provençal-style farmhouse, which is exactly what this place feels like on an elevated level. The property is surrounded by spectacular landscape that includes commanding mountains; centuries-old olive trees; and aromatic fig, orange, and lemon trees that dot the hotel grounds. As there are less than 60 rooms (cleverly divided amongst several buildings for the utmost in privacy), the feeling here is more like staying at a private estate than a big hotel. The service is impeccable, the decor is on-point, and I love that every room has a private (and generous) balcony or garden. Flying doves (literally) make their way around the grounds, on-site herb and vegetable gardens provide inspiration for the chef, you can visit the hotel owner’s birds in the exotic garden, and the last greenhouse in this historic area of greenhouses is used to cultivate all the orchids and plants in and out of the hotel. As of this post, room rates range between 215 and 1848 euros per night depending on room selection and season.

Where To Eat

Le Tilleul: Photographed by Rebecca Taras

Le Tilleul: Not only is this charming eatery perfectly positioned for people watching and immersing yourself in village life, the food is fantastic. The seasonally changing menu is gastronomic, yet comfortable—you can even find a simple sandwich on the lunch carte if you aren’t in the mood for a feast, but still want to enjoy the views. When I visited with my boyfriend, it was a crisp fall day, but blankets were available at all of the chairs. We used ours (and a bottle of red wine) to keep warm. Along with the complimentary olive tapenade, we shared two of the starters of the day: shrimp with avocado cream (artfully nestled in a small, clear glass) and cured salmon gravlax, which was served with a mini salad lightly tossed in a zesty citrus dressing. For the mains, my S.O. had a filet with nicoise olive mashed potatoes and I opted for the linguini con le vongole—aka linguini with clam sauce. Even though we cleaned each and every plate, we still managed to save room for one of the house-made desserts: a berry coulis and cream trifle.

La Brouette: While this restaurant is not exactly French, the Danish cuisine is as delectable as the owners (and hosts) are charming and hospitable—it wouldn’t be around for 40-plus years otherwise! Specialties include Baltic herring, house-marinated and smoked salmon, smoked trout, and a selection of Danish desserts. During the warm weather months, make a reservation for the rustic, lush patio where you can catch the fireworks on selected nights during the summer. When the chill hits the air, the inside is just as cozy, thanks to a warm burning fireplace.

(See above for information on the restaurant at Colombe d’Or.)

Where To Shop

La Maison Godet: Photographed by Rebecca Taras

Galerie Frédéric Gollong: This illustrious gallery one of the first art spaces to open in Saint-Paul de Vence. Along with works from historic greats such as Matisse, Picasso, Valodon, Alechinsky, Braque, and Miró, you’ll also find more contemporary pieces from Van Velde, Wimmer, Berthois-Rigal, and Coignard, to name a few.

Galerie Le Capricorne: A diverse gallery that features a wide array of classic and contemporary works in various styles, to include landscapes, street art, abstract, pop art, and illustrations. You’ll find stunning pieces from great masters like Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, and Braque, as well as contemporary creations from artisans such as Michel Dejos, Isabelle Plante, Sylvia Karle-Marquet, Claude Fauchere, and Christophe Gallard, among several others.

La Maison Godet Parfum: A personal favorite, this perfume house dates back to 1901, and has since then whipped up umpteen fragrances that pay homage to everything from cognac (the family’s first business) to the muses of some of the greatest artists milling around Saint-Paul-de-Vence back in the day. All fragrances are made locally and it’s not uncommon that they contain ingredients found right in the village—like figs from the tree at Colombe d’Or. The current “nose” is the great granddaughter (Sonia) of founder Julien-Joseph Godet. If you’re lucky enough, she’ll be in the shop the day you visit; brace yourself for a real treat.

La Petite Cave de Saint Paul: Housed in a 14th century wine cellar, this cavernous shop offers an array of wines from the region of Provence. Wine and spirit aficionados will appreciate the well-curated selection of Cognac, Calvados, Armagnac, champagne, Bordeaux Grands Crus, and some of the best bottles from Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.

Where To Visit

Cimetiere de Saint-Paul-De-Vence: Photographed by Rebecca Taras

Fondation Maeght: Going on 50-plus years, the Fondation Maeght features the largest and most influential collections of 20th century art in all of Europe.

Musée de Saint-Paul: Take a deeper dive into the artistic history of Saint-Paul by visiting this well-appointed museum that’s housed in a stone house from the 16th century. Exhibitions change regularly and typically feature the works of artists whose works are associated with the village.

Cimetière de Saint-Paul-De-Vence: Dating back to the 16th century, this quaint cimetière is the resting place of famous locals such as Chagall (known for his paintings of the area) and Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, art gallery owners and dealers who lost their son Bernard at the age of 11—he is also buried here. Fondation Maeght became their project to get through this tragedy.

Jacques Prévert’s House: Ask a local to point you in the direction of French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert’s house, an unapologetically charming stone abode where he lived with his wife his wife Janine. Prévert was friends with Pablo Picasso and Paul Roux, owner of the Colombe d’Or.

Place de la Grande Fontaine: A vaulted washhouse serves as a memory for the old town square. Today, it’s a spot for locals to sell farm fresh produce.

Planning Your Trip

Le Village de St.-Paul-de-Vence
© Office de Tourisme de Saint-Paul de Vence – Photographe: Elisabeth Rossolin

By no means are my suggestions a complete list of what you can eat, do, and, see in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, but they are definitely both personal and popular favorites. Don’t be afraid to visit in the off-season as summer can be overwhelmingly crowded, which makes it difficult to book a table at a restaurant, a room at a hotel, or to full enjoy the shops and sites. Have you ever visited this charming French village? What are your favorite places?

19 Hotel Openings To Watch In 2019

19 Hotel Openings To Watch In 2019

I recently became a contributor for TripExpert, a really cool resource for getting unbiased reviews from experts. I’ll be contributing pieces on Paris (and France in general), as well as other wonderful destinations around the globe. Here’s an excerpt from my piece on hotel openings to watch in 2019.  

Checking into a newly-opened hotel is a lot like moving into a new home. The paint is fresh, the sheets are crisp, the bed still has a bounce, you can see your face in the pristine tiled bathroom, and the space has a true fresh aroma. But unlike one’s residence, there’s an attentive staff to take your luggage,  prepare top-notch cuisine, and book those practically unattainable theater tickets. It is for these reasons — and more — that staying in a hotel is always a memorable experience. While you may have your favorites, here are some up-and-comers opening their doors in 2019. Get ready to pack your bags. Read the entire story on TripExpert

Suite Dreams: 5 Plush Pads We’re Dying To Check Into

Suite Dreams: 5 Plush Pads We’re Dying To Check Into

For most of us, taking a vacation requires strategic planning, to include saving enough dough to make the whole experience worthwhile without having to come home empty-handed with your pockets turned inside out like the Monopoly Man.

After all, how many times have you tried to rationalize your lodging choice by saying something like, “but how much time are we really going to spend in the room, anyways?”

That’s all well and good, but if you had the opportunity (and the cash flow) to stay in one of the following plush pads, we have a feeling sightseeing might become a second-tier activity. From a property owned by a king to an entertainment area with 1,000-plus books to inhabitable art (yes, really), you’re going to wish you could check-in indefinitely. Suite dreams, dear reader.

Majestic Hotel: Sagrada Familia Penthouse

Photo courtesy of Majestic Hotel & Spa.

Photo courtesy of Majestic Hotel & Spa.

While you can explore an entire city and all of its historical monuments by foot, there’s something to be said for being able to take in the sights while lying in bed or sitting on the couch reading the morning paper. All is possible at the luxurious, five-star Majestic Hotel in Barcelona, which boasts a bevy of modern-day conveniences, within ancient environs, located on the Paseo de Gracia, one of the most celebrated avenues in in the city.

Photo courtesy of Majestic Hotel & Spa.

Photo courtesy of Majestic Hotel & Spa.

As one would guess, the Sagrada Familia Penthouse boasts spectacular views of the temple with the same namesake from the sprawling terrace, complete with pool. As if that wasn’t enough to bait you in, this ninth floor respite was named one of the best suites in Spain by the World Travel Awards. Rates start at approximately $2,639.

Majestic Hotel Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia 68-70 (Barcelona, Spain); +34 93 488 17 17.

Park Hyatt Tokyo: Tokyo Suite

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

The city may be bustling, but it’s nothing but serenity within the palatial environs of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, located on the top floors of a towering skyscraper in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. While the views are unparalleled from any vantage point in this sky-high paradise, it’s the scenery within the Tokyo Suite on the 50th floor that rivals anything on the other side of the glass.

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

The impressive suite is a dream come true—particularly for anyone with a cultural bone in his or her body. Over 1,000 books and monographs beckon casual and hardcore readers alike, and the amount of impressive artwork on display rivals the galleries of some of the worlds’ greatest museums. Rates start at approximately $5,496.65.

Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku (Shinjuku-Ku Tokyo, Japan); +81 3 5322 1234.

Royal Mansour: Riads

Photo courtesy of Royal Mansour.

Photo courtesy of Royal Mansour.

It’s no surprise that this Marrakech property has palace-like characteristics, as the current King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, owns it. In fact, a “riad” is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word stems from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”—an architectural gem that was introduced during the rule of the Idrisid Dynasty.

Photo courtesy of Royal Mansour.

Photo courtesy of Royal Mansour.

The riads—available with one-to-three bedrooms—each have their own rooftop plunge pool to cool off from the desert sun, traditional (read: stunning) Moroccan décor and enough mysterious nooks and crannies to feel like an Indiana Jones movie—even the staff travels by a series of tunnels through service entrances, thus keeping the experience private. The only thing missing? A magic carpet—but we haven’t given up hope yet. Rates start at $1,175 for a one-bedroom riad.

Royal Mansour Marrakech, Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti (Marrakech, Morocco); + 212 5 29 80 80 80.

The Beaumont: ROOM

Photo courtesy of The Beaumont.

Photo courtesy of The Beaumont.

This intimate Art-Deco-inspired boutique hotel is the brainchild of restaurateurs Corbin & King, responsible for The Wolseley, The Delanay and several other highly esteemed eateries in London. Among the 50 rooms, 13 studios and 10 suites, the pièce derésistance is ROOM, an inhabitable sculpture commissioned from Turner Prize-winning British artist Antony Gormley. Can’t afford to stay in ROOM? You can get a peek at what the structure looks like from the exterior, as it clings to the façade of the hotel.

Photo courtesy of The Beaumont.

Photo courtesy of The Beaumont.

Gormley’s version of “sculpting darkness” translated into a cave-like space that encourages guests to enter a different state of consciousness—in other words, to really chill out for a while. The rest of the one-bedroom suite is decorated in true Beaumont fashion, complete with vintage art and photography books and Art Deco nuances throughout. Rates start at approximately $3,370.

The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street  (London, United Kingdom); 
+44 20 7499 1001.

Metropolitan by COMO Miami Beach: COMO Suite


Photo courtesy of Metropolitan by Como.

Location, location, location. You don’t need to travel to the ends of the earth to get a room with a view when Miami Beach is just a short plane ride away. This boutique Art Deco style hotel is in the heart of it all—shopping, dining and entertainment—but if you want to avoid the crowds, there’s a frosty libation waiting for you on the terrace of this posh pad.

Photo Courtesy of Metropolitan by Como.

Photo Courtesy of Metropolitan by Como.

The Como Penthouse Suite features sweeping views of the Atlantic from every room, so it feels as though you’re on the beach—but without having to worry about getting any sand in your shoes. Those traveling with multiple houseguests have the option to connect with two-to-three additional bedrooms, and the corridor can be secured to create a private “wing-like” feel. Rates start at approximately $1,415.
(CS 1 PIC)

Metropolitan by COMO Miami Beach, 2445 Collins Avenue (Miami Beach, Florida); 305-695-3600.