St Paul de Vence – Paradise for art lovers

While staying in Nice, I decided to buy a tour to visit some small towns around Nice and Monaco. In each city in France, whenever you need tourist info, just go to “Office de Tourism”, located right in the center, they have everything you need, very convenient! I’ve been there and book a tour to Cannes, Monaco, St Paul-De-Vence, Eze and Antibes.

The symbolic sculpture on the ramparts near to the entrance to St Paul de Vence

Let’s talk about St Paul de Vence! Why we call it the paradise for the artists and art lovers? It’s a village in the Alpes-Maritimes, southeastern France, with narrow streets, surrounded by medieval walls that capture the heritage of more than 1,000 years. The village’s beautiful landscape, teamed with its endless art galleries, modern and contemporary art museums and quirky sculptures, make it an art lover’s paradise and an extremely popular tourist destination.

The village surrounded by the ramparts built in 15th century by the order of King François 1er

Located on a hill, the history of the village starting from the Middle-age period, back to 10th -12th century, now became one of the most visited villages and home to a number of movie stars like Yves Montand, Simone Signoret or Marc Chagall, Russian-French artist, who lived in the village for almost 20 years. Marc Chagall  painted local landscapes featuring romantic couples, goats and cockerels floating across the village and its ramparts, in the fragrance of immense bouquets of flowers.

La petit chapelle – a restaurant at the entrance to the village
Endless art galleries, art museums and quirky sculptures around the village

Here, every house is a gallery or studio-atelier – either paintings, sculpture, art deco…We have more than one hour to walk around, to visit galleries. Due to a sign “No enter with camera”, at the entrance, so I decided not to step inside some galleries but sometime the owner or the manager kindly allowed to take a few shots. Anyway, if people just keep taking photos and buying nothing, it’s truly annoying! It’s fair enough!

A painting displayed in front of the house to attract visitors

Some artists display their artworks outside studio, in the garden or on the wall at the entrance, it makes the old town more vivid, more colorful. Due to low season, sometime you may find no one in the gallery, or just a little cute dog, laying at the doorstep, but if you need some info, just ring the bell, someone quickly appears, greeting you with usual  “bonjour” and with smiling eyes!

Other gallery with the painting on the wall right at the entrance
This little dog as a gallery guardian, I couldn’t dare to disturb his afternoon nap
Some galleries are quite allergic to the camera
Studio atelier by artist Alain Sultan

Below are some beautiful imperfect bronze sculptures in the collection “Les Voyageurs” by French sculptor Bruno Catalano. What’s especially impressive is that some of the upper part of  the sculptures seem to stand on very little support, giving them a sort of ethereal and surreal appearance.

The missing parts of the sculptures make them truly extraordinary and unique…
They leave room for our imagination – are they missing something ?

Bruno Catalano is a French sculptor who sold most of his art works around the globe, as I love his creations and very curious how to create it, so I found it on Morning News, sorry it’s in French, but we still meet the artist and see how he’s working on his sculptures.

or is it something that these “voyageurs” have simply left behind?

I’m visiting St Paul de Vence in mid September, not high season, I can feel the peaceful atmosphere in the medieval village, no any big crowds of visitors, I take my time to enjoy my walk and made another discovery – the paintings at the gallery Gaulthier, the artist’s selection of the colors in his painting is amazing – the happy colors!

Atelier Gaulthier is famous for his vibrant world throught his happy colors.

The Hesbe Bolzonello gallery is another space dedicated to the fascinating world of impressionism. Through original works made with oil painting and pallet-knife, it takes  you to the soul of St Paul de Vence, with its old stones, its flowered streets, its facades with bougainvillea, let you to relax around a legendary game of pétanque or in the village’s fields of poppies and lavenders, or to laze on the quiet seaside.

One of the creations at the atelier-gallery Hesbé Bolzonello 

Just by chance I saw a note on the door of one small, a kind of rustic art studio, seeing the artist’s name, I’m sure he’s my compatriot, I’d love to learn more from him about St Paul de Vence, but I realized my restricted tour schedule…I continue my walk in regret.

One of the sculpture displayed around the village – old camera engraved on the stone

It’s quite interesting to get more details on the artwork that I found in the village like the old camera engraved on the stone by Luc Trizan, who comes from Florence in Tuscany, where working marble and stone is an sacred tradition. Luc studied architecture, traveled around the world but later settled in St Paul de Vence.

walking around you will see different sculptures – in some corner or…
right on the ramparts with a terrific view behind…

I surely missed many other art deco displayed within the ramparts or in the village, no chance to visit favorite galleries or houses where those celebs used to live…

Tired of walking around ? Take a seat at the coffee shop nearby…

and I keep wondering why the artists love this place so much, not only St Paul de Vence, but also some other places in South of France ? The landscapes, the mild weather, the summer green, the colors of the nature in the South, the azure blue sky, the Mediterranean sea…right in front of the village?

or sit in the shadow to enjoy a short but peaceful moment of life…
The scenery downhill – view from the village
Another beautiful view from the village to the Mediterranean sea…
Me and Sami – my lovely talkative tour guide

Today is my last day in South of France, after nearly half month traveling around the half country by train, unbelievable! That was an amazing experience, I did enjoy every moment…and I still come back for the North-Eastern part of France, that I will share with you later. Now time for me to continue my journey down to Verona, Venice, Florence and Rome. Au revoir!

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