A few kilometres to the north of Saint-Paul de V ence is the pretty town of Vence, which offers visitors a historic centre with a Provençal character, characterised by shady squares, bubbling fountains and a magnificent view as far as the sea.
Located in the hinterland of the Côte d’Azur, at the foot of the Pre-Alps, the natural territory of Vence is an ideal passageway between the coast and the mountains, a balcony over the Mediterranean that links the sea to the mountains.
Don’t forget to stroll in the morning among the market stalls in Place du Grand Jardin and admire the shops, galleries and museums to discover the works of many famous artists. Attracted by landscapes and light, the great masters of colour and the avant-garde chose Vence as their source of inspiration. A visit to the heart of the city of the arts will allow you to discover emblematic places in the footsteps of the great names in painting and literature: Matisse, Chagall, Dufy, Gombrowicz, Arman and Dubuffet.
Immersed in a fortified enclosure dating back to the Middle Ages, the heart of the town is perfectly preserved and has retained its most authentic soul.
The historic town is also an invitation to travel through 2000 years of history, discovering the wealth of heritage and observing the monuments, architecture and squares. Five gates give access to the centre, which houses the smallest cathedral in France, with priceless treasures.
Built on the site of an ancient Roman temple and later a Carolingian church, its architecture and furnishings reflect the incredible wealth of Vence’s heritage.
You will admire a 5th-century Gallo-Roman sarcophagus and the tomb of Saint Véran. On some pillars and in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, there is an ornamentation of magnificent Carolingian carved plaques, with beautiful openwork settings.
Not to be missed is a precious mosaic by Marc Chagall, depicting Moses saved from the waters. With this priceless gift, the artist, who lived in Vence from 1950 to 1966, gave the town a work of infinite poetry.
Built in 1951, the Rosary Chapel, better known as the Matisse Chapel, was entirely designed and decorated by Henri Matisse for the Dominican nuns. Realised during his stay in Vence, the building is distinguished by its unmistakable roof of blue and white tiles and its wrought-iron cross thirteen metres high.
A stone’s throw from the town’s historic centre, this religious building houses important creations by the artist such as the stained-glass windows composed of plant motifs in yellow, green and blue, which let in the sun’s rays by illuminating the large black-striped paintings, the white ceramics depicting the Stations of the Cross, the Virgin and Child and Saint Dominic.
Inside the museum space, you can also admire all of Henri Matisse’s preparatory works: drawings, engravings, models, photos, texts and liturgical vestments, while contemplating the breathtaking panorama of the town of Vence and the Côte d’Azur.
To admire the historical heart of Vence, we recommend you start at Porte du Peyra, which allows you to enter the 13th-century city walls and leads to Place du Peyra where there is a beautiful fountain.
Continue past the Château de Villeneuve and the watchtower to Place du Marché, where the stables once stood and which now houses small food shops.
Passing through rue Alsace-Lorraine, you reach Place Clémenceau and the Romanesque cathedral, inside which is the 1979 mosaic of Moses by Chagall.
The Witold Gombrowicz Museum Space was opened on 23 September 2017 in the Villa Alexandrine, the same villa where the Polish writer lived from 1964 to 1969 with his wife Rita. The 1911 Belle Époque-style villa, purchased by the municipality in 1988, was redeveloped with the valuable support of the Polish state.
The exhibition highlights the complex and ambiguous personality of the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, a destroyer of the ideals and intellectual stereotypes of his time. The reading of selected excerpts from his works introduces us into the universe of Gombrowicz’s thought as he reveals, explains and comments on the mysteries of his art.
Using intellectual provocations, fictions or fantasies, borrowing different postures, putting on and taking off masks, this iconoclastic author forces the spectator to take a step back and enter with him into a game contrary to mass mythology and exalting the rights of the individual.
The ramparts of Vence form an elliptical enclosure with five gates. They are easily identifiable on the city plan, as two avenues follow their route.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Vence offers a wide range of accommodation: from luxury hotels, equipped with all comforts, to B&Bs located in the town centre or in a relaxing green setting just outside the centre.
Please note that Vence is well served by the road network: it is only 1 hour from the Italian border and 40 minutes from Cannes. If you arrive on the A8 motorway from Marseille, you will have to take exit 48. If, on the other hand, you are coming from Menton, the correct exit is 47.
What's the weather at Vence? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Vence for the next few days.
Located behind Nice, Vence is a small Provençal town a stone's throw from the famous beaches of the Côte d'Azur.