As summer winds down, it’s not too late to squeeze in one last trip. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most visited villages in Provence. It became famous thanks to French stars Simone Signoret and Yves Montand in the 50s. This village perché in the hills high above the sea still attracts the stars as well as two million tourists a year and is known around the world.
Yves Montand, actor and singer, loved to play boules, the French version of lawn bowling. When he was in town, he rarely missed a day in the town square with his cronies. While visiting, consider staying at Le Saint-Paul, a luxurious hotel that is part of the elegant Relais et Châteaux group, rather than just passing through. Montand and Signoret married here in 1951. The owner recalls that on the day of the ceremony, a dove landed on Signoret’s head, as though in benediction.
In the narrow streets, you will literally be walking in the footsteps of great artists, such as the poet Jacques Prévert or the artist Marc Chagall who lived here during the last 20 years of his life. He was looking for a place of calm and a place to festoyer (fes-toe-yay) or make merry – two apparently contradictory goals that he apparently managed to accomplish. This makes perfect sense when one considers that there are two faces to the village: when the hordes of tourists leave in the evening, the ambiance that charmed the stars remains intact.
- Yves Montand – Chante Jacques Prévert (1962) (allerlei2013riffmaster.wordpress.com)
- Where joie de vivre meets art de vivre! (bonvoyageurs.com)
- Exploring Côte d’Azur (dianepernet.typepad.com)