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Six days in Provence

Catheral in Old Nice

I sometimes feel I must be the luckiest person alive, having a job which means I must go to places like Vence, St Paul de Vence, Grasse and Nice! Again, all for you, our esteemed clients and readers, I have been in France, immersing myself in its artistic past and present in the footsteps of Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Yves Montand, Brigitte Bardot and others. And on arriving at Nice, you sense what drew them here. 

Immediately you have a sense of beauty and serenity as you look across the deep blue of Baie des Anges and the green hills rising quickly behind. There is a sense of things Italian in the past here too - the huge 'piazza' Massena in Nice and the tall, square towers reaching skywards from the hillside towns and villages. Olive groves and the thin, dark cypresses all confirm that you are, indeed, in Provence Sigh...

Back to work, then and what did I have to do? Explore! I discovered Vence old town - a genuine lived-in community crammed within the medieval old stone walls and inextricably knitted into the lives of centuries of artists - but real and everyday even so. St Paul de Vence by contrast is achingly beautiful, crammed even more so into a hilltop stone enclosure, with cobbles, steep steps and turns and views across Provence and the Med that truly do take your breath away. But this is for the chic rich with no apology to anyone else. You simply have to visit though!

Grasse Fountain

Grasse is yet another hillside, medieval delight - if you saw the film Perfume, its just like that - lived in, beautiful, sometimes raw, a real place not a trinket. Nice, however, is grandeur on a scale of the smartest European cities with a central Place Massena that rivals St Mark's square - an impressive concept in urban planning! Really, any of these places should be visited by anyone who has a love for France. They are Provence distilled, and a must! But that is without really mentioning the art: Fondation Maeght at St Paul, Musees Chagall and Matisse in Nice and Picasso in Antibes, Musee Renoir at Cagnes, Chateau de Villeneuve, Chapelle Matisse, La Chapelle des Penitents Blancs and Musee Retif, all in Vence (fairly named La Cite d'Art). Minutes apart, these places really are a treat for the eye and the mind! Provence and art just sit so well together and no wonder these creative greats loved living here so much!

As for Brigitte and Yves? They knew a great little restaurant in St Paul we can recommend to you, just ask...