Many of them are marked by medieval coats of arms. Today the workshops of artisans and artists, as well as numerous souvenir shops, antique shops, studios, art galleries and cafes are located in them. The Royal Gate (16th century) and St. Michael's Gate, the Bastion with three towers (16th century), the ancient laundry (12th century), the chapels of St. Clare with the façade in the Renaissance style (15-16th centuries) and the Brotherhood of White Penitents (the brothers redeeming cared for seriously ill and infirm, and now the exhibitions are held in the chapel) were preserved since the Middle Ages. The small squares and streets with houses entwined with evergreen ivy and bright Mediterranean flowers are lined with stone paving in a variety of patterns. Solar and mechanical watches on the chapels, old fountains which still give the travellers a refreshing coolness immerse even more in the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. One of the most famous fountains in the city and the whole France is located in the Great Fountain Square. It was built in 1850 by local master, the stone carver and is a very popular place for meetings, photography and drawing.
The town is proud with beautiful church of Saint-Paul named in honour of Saint Paul. It was constructed in the 12th century in Gothic style and rebuilt in 1740 in Baroque style. The square bell tower located on the highest place and looking good from everywhere is an architectural dominant of the city. The various treasures and historical jewels are still kept in the church. These are gold items and jewellery (the oldest ones dated back to the 12th century), the priceless parchments and most important – the relics of St. Clement.
Saint-Paul-de-Vence has some interesting monuments and sculptures adorning its small cosy squares. The most famous is the sculpture «The Thinker» by Auguste Rodin (the author's copy). The artist brilliantly recreated in bronze the image of a man deeply and painfully thinking on issues that have the universal dimension. It is known about two dozen of copies of the sculpture which went to the world and the original “Thinker” can be seen in Paris.
The monument to Van Gogh who «wandered» to the sea shore is amazing. The sculpture is the brainchild of French master, Bruno Catalano from «The Wanderer» series. Today Catalano has released several hundred of these «travellers». The sculpture of Van Gogh occasionally migrates from one place to another. Since it does not have the middle one can see «through Van Gogh», so to speak, the whole world, and this can be seen as great metaphoricity. With its spirit the work of Catalano, the genius of balance, reproduces the originality and some heart-breaking of the Dutch artist’s figure who fell in love with Provence and brilliantly recreated its nature in the landscapes. Suffice it to recall his world famous sunflowers and grapes the contemplation of which gives rise to thoughts about the triumph of beauty and eternal values.
The town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence originated in the early 8th century when the inhabitants of the coastal areas of the Mediterranean running from the constant raids of cruel Saracens moved to the mountains and created the walled city, the so-called «eagle's nest» where they felt more secure. In 1538 King Francis I ordered to circummure the town. The bastion built by the French architect is considered one of the best fortifications in France at the time. It is noteworthy that, in connection with the construction of the bastion about 450 residents of the town were forced to move into the new villages, Colle-sur-Loup and Roquefort-les-Pins.
The history of Saint-Paul-de-Vence for centuries did not differ from other such towns. A new era began in the early 20th century when the artists began to come here and often stay at a local hotel «La Colombe d'Or» (“Golden Dove”). In the 20s it was visited by Bonnard and Modigliani. Later Utrillo, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Jean Cocteau worked and lived here , as well as the native of the Belarusian city of Vitebsk the avant-garde artist, Marc Chagall who lived here for 20 years until his death after which he was buried in the local cemetery. The artists often did not have the money to pay for accommodation and food so in gratitude for the services they gave the hotel owner their paintings. Such gratitude turned in that he has got a decent collection of works by great masters and the hotel has become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers from around the world.
Subsequently, the intellectuals, Camus, Maeterlinck, Prevert, Kipling trailed herre. And in the forties the filmmakers fell into the habit to come here. One cannot name everyone who has been here for the past half century. In particular, these are the cinema superstars, Brigitte Bardot Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren, Fernandel, Burt Lancaster, Catherine Deneuve, the philosopher and the playwright, Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as Yves Montand and Simone Signoret who met here and then got married. George Clooney, just married, also I look for a villa here.
The celebrities have contributed to the consolidation of the fame of the resort town, the cultural centre, filled it with an aura of creativity and bohemian. Like a hundred years ago the beautiful nature, impressive architecture, mild climate and the unique aura of romance and inspiration still beckon here.
Staying in Saint-Paul-de-Vence do not ignore the Museum of Modern Art - Fondation Maeght (1964) which is located behind the walls of the old town, in the forest, among the fragrant pines and stone pines. The museum which is sometimes compared to the Louvre in Paris is famous for its rich collection of works by brilliant artists and sculptors of the 20th century (Matisse, Chagall, Miro, Giacometti, etc.). The attention should be also paid to the room which houses a museum, because was is designed by the famous Spanish architect, Sert, and famous artists had a hand in the decoration of its interior.
And yet, for a richer range of sensations of being in Saint-Paul-de-Vence be sure to visit some local restaurant or cafe (for example, the famous Cafe de la Place). The energy given by the sun and savour given by the sea can be felt in Provencal dishes. As well as sophistication – thanks to the cooks who treat cooking as an art.
Travelling makes our life brighter. Therefore let’s add new colours to its palette.