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Should we visit St. Paul de Vence or is it just going to be more of the same?

Should we visit St. Paul de Vence or is it just going to be more of the same?

Jun 11th, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #1  
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Should we visit St. Paul de Vence or is it just going to be more of the same?

Hi everyone, we will are leaving for France in a couple of days for two weeks. We have four days in Paris, five based in St. Remy (will be visiting Uzes, Pont de Gard, Nimes, Avignon, Arles, Les Baux, St. Remy, Gordes, and Rousillon all by car). We then have 5 days based in Nice and will be visiting that city, along with Eze, Villefranche, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, and Monaco). Travelling by public transport. We have one extra day and I thought we would visit St. Paul de Vence and Antibes.

I am reading great things about St. Paul de Vence, but it also sounds very touristy, tons of shops and galleries, etc. That all sounds nice but I am wondering if we will already have had a ton of that in the other places we will have visited. We are not big into museums or art galleries, but do like to see pretty towns/cities, do some hiking (so we have some hikes planned for Villefranche and St. Jean). We won't have a lot of money left at this point in the trip (I'm guessing!) so won't really be buying anything or eating at a restaurant. I am wondering if we should just scrap St. Paul de Vence and maybe spend the whole day in Antibes? It could be nice just to spend some time relaxing at a beach as we won't really have done much, if any of that. What are peoples' thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance!
chasebella is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:29 AM
  #2  
 
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SPdV is very touristy and it has lots of shops. Nearby is the modern art museum - Fondation Maeght which I found interesting.

http://www.fondation-maeght.com/index.php/en

In the same area, not far away, is Tourettes-sur-Loup which also has shops and restaurants but does not have the number of tourists as SPdV.

The Matisse Chapel in Vence is wonderful and worth more time than SPdV. It's small and very beautiful.

I'm not sure how you would get to these places by public transport; I've done them with a car.

You might consider visiting the Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu sur Mer.

http://www.villa-kerylos.com/en/home
adrienne is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:37 AM
  #3  
 
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We have a somewhat similar trip planned and St Paul de Vence is high on my list, but for a reason that may not appeal to you: I visited the Gallerie Maeght nearly 30 years ago, and can't wait to go back.

But if you aren't fond of galleries and museums, I think a day relaxing in the sun sounds perfect.

Our 5 night rental is on the front at Villefranche, where the town meets the "wrist" of St Jean Cap Ferrat. I'm working on a rough plan for our four full days, and so far, I've come up with

A day for Nice

A day or half a day for Monaco (travel mate really wants to go there); maybe second half of the day at Musee Picasso in Antibes

A day for St Paul de Vence and other perched villages

A day for Villefrance and St Jean Cap Ferrat for Villa Rothschild de Ephrussi and Villa Kerylos

I thought I would share this with you. We are doing 4 nights of cathedrals and chateaux at the start of our trip, then flying to Nice for our next 5 nights, then back to Paris for the last four. We are a very arty crew of three and will probably fill in more time in the south with a galleries or museums.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:43 AM
  #4  
 
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Check out Villa Euphrisi and see if that is something that would appeal to you - lovely gardens and villa with interesting audio guide. It is one of my personal "top 10" sights in Europe.

Antibes does have a nice (for that part of the world) beach. We did the beach club thing there - paying to get into a private area with unbrellas and loungers. But there is also part of the beach that is free.

While you are over by Les Baux you might want to check out The Cathedral of Images - in french, Le Catedral des Images? It is a sound and picture show in an old stone quarry - the subject changes year to year I think - we saw a Picasso show - we found it very entertaining. Actually I am a bit weary of hill towns that yes, they have a nice view, but are really mostly shopping opportunites - that was my impression of Les Baux and St. Paul de Vence (altho there is an art museum there, mostly Miro?).
suec1 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 10:26 AM
  #5  
 
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We were in Villefranche-sur-mer for a month last April (attended the L'Institut de Français). Hit most of the nearby sites. We found SPdV too touristy; Tourettes-sur-Loup much less so. Antibes wasn't one of our favorites; nor was Cannes. Villefranche was great; sort of off the beaten track. There is a beach there as well. You should take walks to Cap Ferrat (Villa Euphrusi) and Beaulieu-sur-mer (Kerylos) as well as to the fortress overlooking Villefranche. We thought that Eze, like SPdV, was way too touristy, although the view of the Med from there was memorable. We found the Musee Chagall in Nice and the Musee Cocteau in Menton to be worth the trip. You can travel to most of these sites via bus and/or train. We also took the train to Grasse and visited the Musee Fragonard there and the perfume factory just below the Musee. Of course, things change in June/July when the Cote d'Azur is inundated with tourists. I understand that even Villefranche swells to levels far beyond those we experienced in April, so I guess you need to be prepared for that. Bon voyage!!
billandcindy is online now  
Jun 11th, 2014, 10:57 AM
  #6  
 
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St. Paul-de-Vence is somewhat like Les Baux or Eze Village, except, unlike the other villages, there is not much at the top of St. Paul-de-Vence once you wonder your way through touristy alleyways up the hill. It is a cruise boat shore excursion destination, and it is exceedingly touristy. Two weeks ago, I saw big tour bus after buses parked at the parking lost below the Fondation Maeght which serves as the parking lot for both the museum and the village.

There is also Vence further up the hill. It is smaller, but less touristy. However, while it is more intimate, it does not offer spectacular views like Eze Village or Les Baux.

The Carrières de Lumières is the name of the light show by Les Baux. It is a walking distance from Les Baux, although you have to go down the hill to get to the quarry. In fact, the TI told me not to drive since I might not find a parking space at the quarry. The show runs continuously in loop for about an hour and you just walk in anytime after paying the entrance (get combo ticket with Les Baux castle) and wonder around as the images change continuously. The current show is Klimt but not exclusively so.

Also, of the villages south of D900 in Provence try to include Lacoste in your loop. It is less touristy but charming. Nearby Gordes is Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, which you have probably seen in promotional pictures of Provence. You would probably be there at the beginning of the lavender season. No need to go inside the Abbey on a tour. It is only in French and like other monasteries, it is stark inside.
greg is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 12:49 PM
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Agree with those who compare SPdV with Eze. I liked Eze a bit more. Gordes and Roussillon are so pretty.
TDudette is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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Please visit the Matisse chapel in Vence!
menachem is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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The view from Eze is alot more stunning than St Paul De Vence. I think SPDV gets alot of attention because of its proximity and access being so close to the big city of Nice. Alot more tourist buses pull up at SPDV aswell. Considering your thoughts on relaxation at the beach, and more importantly your itinerary already including the other provence villages mentioned, I don't think you would miss anything from not visiting SPDV.
Using Public transport to Eze may be a wise thing. We drove there last year in May and could not find l=parking in the car park at the bottom.
theotherside is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 02:12 PM
  #10  
 
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SPdV was a buzz kill for us. Cute but full of high end art & furniture galleries.

We much preferred Eze which is similar but more affodable shops and fantastic views.
Tourettes-sur-Loup was another favorite of ours, don't miss Tom's lavander ice cream.
We also enjoyed a perfume tour in Grasse.

IMO, Rothschild & Euphrisi are a must.

We also loved,loved the Renoir house in Haute de Cagnes and the Grimaldi castle way up the hill in the same location.

In Antibes the walk along the rocks from Garoupe beach is outstanding and Keller Plage on Garoupe beach is an excellent beach club & restaurant.

Yikes! I could go on & on. The area is so beautiful and there is so much to see.

And then the 1st part of your trip, Gordes, Rousillon, etc.
Memories-------
You couldn't have chosen a more fantastic area. Whatever you do, you will probably be back.
TPAYT is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 03:15 PM
  #11  
 
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I like St Paul de Vence. Have stayed three times at the wonderful Colombe D'Or
cigalechanta is online now  
Jun 11th, 2014, 03:54 PM
  #12  
 
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I stayed at Colombe d'Or in order to see the art within but otherwise would not have gone to the town (or eaten there).

Nothing about Antibes appealed to me, but if you find a place to enjoy the beach, it sounds like that is what you really want to do, and I doubt you will regret having skipped SPdV.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 06:26 PM
  #13  
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Thanks for all of the replies and opinions. I think we will probably skip SPdV. I have printed off all of the other great suggestions to review on the plane. Now off to finish packing
chasebella is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 07:24 PM
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joannyc is online now  
Jun 12th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Second the suggestion for Plage de la Garoupe and the walk around Cap d'Antibes - lunch at Plage Keller, though maybe not if you're on a budget. You could pick up some food from the small Casino supermarket at the end of your walk (before walking back to Garoupe) and sit on the tiny public beach there.
Fantastic views towards Nice and the mountains beyond.

I have found that June is not really packed with tourists - it gets busier from the second week in July. But if you are visiting several villages and towns, a day on the beach and a walk would be nice. The walk around the Cap and back to Garoupe will take about an hour. Not sure how to get there on public transport - there's a bus, but I don't know which one.
Tulips is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 09:50 AM
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St Paul de Vence is extraordinary beautiful little stone village but is one of the most crowded with tourists of any hilltown I've ever been to (and I've been to a LOT). I totally agree that if you can get there (I think it would be hard by public transportation) that Tourettes-sur-Loup would be a better choice. Delightfully uncrowded and touristy but still very beautiful. Actually, I think Vence (the larger town about 4 km from St Paul), is a nicer place. I've stayed there twice, both times I visited St Paul as a day trip and both times I was so glad I was staying in Vence.

I visited all the places you mention last summer - here's my trip report
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...swiss-alps.cfm

Here are the photos:
http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/france_-_provence
http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/france_-_cote_dazure

Here's my photos of all the places you mention
isabel is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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To get to Plage de la Garoupe, you'll need to take Bus No. 2. Keep in mind that this beach is mostly private beaches that you have to pay for the umbrella and lounge (totally worth it!) and that there is a small public beach, but it gets pretty packed.
Again, as the others say, this is in Cap d'Antibes.

Close to Old Antibes is maybe the best public beach, known as Plage de la Gravette, at the end of the port. Great sandy beach, just beautiful. Kind of hard to find, so google it on a map.

Also, rather than just lie on the beach and jump in the water and swim about, consider bringing out the total child in you by buying a cheap blow up tube to float in the water. You can find them in a lot of shops, including some hardware stores, and get them to blow them up for you.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 03:26 PM
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On the other hand, if the day is not sunny and bright, I'd take the bus to St. Paul de Vence! I totally agree with Tuscanfeedlit -- Gallerie Maeght is really something. Museum is mostly cool sculptures and mostly outdoors -- which with an umbrella, you CAN do in the rain!

I've been to St. Paul de Vence many times, but the last visit (not quite 2 years ago) we visited Gallerie Maeght for the first time. It was a wild-weather day. Sunny and warm when we parked at the car lot in SPdV; same during the hike up the hill and about the twisty/turny streets that gives the charm to the old town, and back down to the square with the bar at the bottom of the hill. We had just stopped at the bar by the place where boules are played, sat down and heard a clap of thunder. Next thing we saw was a Noah's Ark torrent come from the skies, so quick and so surprising that the bar patrons went running for cover, as people looking like they'd been shot out of cannons were running down the hill from old town completely and utterly soaked. The gutters surrounding us filled to the brim with water, then spouted like impromptu fountains. It was hysterical!

It was after the deluge subsided with moved on to the Gallerie, where you really can get up close and personal with 3D art. Loved that place!
Surfergirl is offline  
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