Beautiful French villages: Saint-Paul-de-Vence
It reminds me of the architecture of Le Corbusier. The Catalan architect Joseph Lluís Sert must have been influenced by the master; it is a composition of glass, whitewashed concrete, water and light.
I went inside to bear witness to a breathtaking collection of Bonnard, Braque, Chagall, Léger and many other modern and contemporary artists. I lingered in front of a Braque mosaic, which depicts the scene of a pond. The blues, the barely discernable fish… so poetic.
The Village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence
The sun was already sinking as I made my way into the village – I always forget that the sun disappears so early in autumn. I passed all sorts of people with foreign accents. The whole world has a powerful attraction to the South of France.
At the entry to the village you are confronted by the walls of the fortified town, constructed by François I in the sixteenth century. It seems as though time hasn’t had its effect on them.
If I thought that my capacity for amazement had been saturated by what I’d already seen and experienced at the Maeght Foundation, I was wrong.
A dive into the past
The reality of Saint-Paul lives up to the hype. It is a maze of laneways, fountains, ancient stones; a journey through the ages; a scene from a period film. I kept expecting to see an armed knight jump out at me, or a washerwoman crouched over laundry. If it weren’t for the many (too many) tourist stalls, the scene would be perfect.
I can understand why this village attracted so many famous painters, so I decided to extend my tour as far as the little cemetery perched on the rocks where Chagall rests forever more. His grave is simply marked with a few pebbles over a bare flagstone, a large rosemary bush and nothing more. The stark sobriety is so moving.
The sun sets behind the surrounding mountains, the last rays casting a light on the fruit laden orange trees. Winter will soon arrive and Saint-Paul will go into hibernation until springtime, all the while I’ll be holding these warm memories as a powerful souvenir.
Could you make like Chagall and seek exile in a little village in the South of France? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.Image credits:
All images © Julie Guégan.