Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Le Saint-Paul

France

Nestled within the walls of pretty Saint-Paul de Vence lies this petite-luxe pearl

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Le Saint-Paul

Location

The heart of the fortified village of medieval Saint-Paul de Vence

Travel Information

Nice Cote d'Azur Airport - less than 30 minutes

Top Tips

Viewing the Chagall's in the Foundation Maeght museum (before considering buying one in one of the many galleries)

5-Star X-Factors

Stunning views from the valley suites and excellent cuisine in the courtyard restaurant

Lovely Le Saint-Paul

A little inland from the sultry Côte d'Azur coastline sits St-Paul de Vence, pretty as a postcard, mysteriously medieval and untainted by the worst of the last centuries. This peachy hideaway is less than 30 minutes from Nice airport, so arriving in time for lunch is no hardship and, within seconds of being here, you unwind.

A chilled beer, watching boules in dusty lime tree-lined squares with locals, is commonplace in villages in France, though here it feels more authentic than most. The charm lies, not only in its ancient fortified walls and terracotta roofs, but also in its desire to maintain itself as an 'ode to artiste'.

It is here, too, that Marc Chagall lived and dreamed from 1966 until his death in 1985. Interpreting his dreams and allegories with a purity and innocence that exists in St-Paul de Vence to this day, he bequeathed several works to the village including Ma Vie and Les Amoureux which can be seen at Fondation Maeght, where you can also marvel at the works of Braque, Calder, Giacometti and Miro.

Not far from Chagall's resting place is Le Saint-Paul, a bijou petite-luxe hotel, nestled inextricably into the ancient grain and soul of one of France's most beautiful villages. Staying and resting here feels as comfortable as any home could be, with the level of service that merits awesome accolades.

Cultural delights

A little off-season, this has to be one of the most endearing places to inspire your creative pulses in France; every other shop is a gallery and, in a few, the work is worth re-mortgaging for. We made it just in time to visit the Foundation Maeght, which houses a collection of modern works of art set in a garden of masterpieces.

With the sun ready to set, we made a hasty retreat to our sensationally cosy and stylish suite in order to mountain-gaze before the lights in the valleys started to shine behind the evening mist. We sipped champagne, nibbled canapés and raised a toast to the magic of the sparkling Riviera.

Le Saint-Paul is distinctive in its Baglioni-boudoir-bliss style, but it has an individual character too. It is petite, private and deeply cosseting and has taken on the 21st Century with a sincere, atavistic affinity with its predecessors. Our suite was very special, so much so that we could have simply stayed here and ventured no further.

The terrace had incredible rolling valley views and in the far left distance we got a faint glimmer of the Mediterranean Sea. The sitting room was divine and the bed chamber as pretty and inviting as any I have seen. What's more, the staff are on hand with a desire to make you feel not just welcome, but familiarly comfortable.

Atmospheric dining

As it was March, we dined in the cave-like rooms beneath the hotel, next to a small fountain with goldfish. We enjoyed an exceptional dish of chunky, succulent, al dente asparagus with roasted foie gras escalope on old balsamic vinegar juice, followed by round zucchini stuffed with lamb from Sisteron, bathed in a fresh thyme sauce.

We have also dined on the pretty terrace during summer months, amongst a flood of Provençal blooms: pink and red geraniums, lavender tubs alongside rosemary bushes, all sun-kissed by day and star-lit by night. This is a truly atmospheric dining experience.

Breakfast on the terrace of our sweetest of suites was fabulous and, with only a short drive to Nice Airport, our stress was well and truly bagged-up before we left for a short flight home.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer