VOL. 8 NO. 2
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
|SAINT-PAUL-DE-VENCE ~ Jewel of Provence|
Travel on the Rise
Gifts from France
Ici et Là
D-Day Thanks & Remembrances
French Inventions & Discoveries
See France with Michelin
Featuring: Atlantic Coast
Down by the
by Janice Telstar
It appears out of nowhere -- this medieval village perched precariously on a rocky outcrop in the French countryside about ten miles north of Nice. Sheltered by its ancient ramparts, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most stunning villages in Provence. There are so many exceptional things about this jewel of a town, it is no wonder that it is listed as the third most visited site in France after Château de Versailles and Le Mont St-Michel. Its history is storied, dating back to the Middle Ages. Since then, the village has virtually stood still in time. Its architecture, with towers and fortified walls built by François I in 1537, and its sweeping views are just as spectacular now as they were then and are protected by law as part of the national heritage of France.
The beauty of Saint-Paul begins with the light — the same exceptional light that attracted such masters as Chagall, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse and others. These famous painters found their way here and were hypnotized by the way the sun played on the fields of lavender and sunflowers, caressing the green of the valley and the honey-colored stone walls of the village. If you don’t believe that the artists were really here, just pay a visit to the famous Hôtel Colombe d’Or. It was here in the 1920’s that these once penniless artists paid for their food, drink, room and board with their paintings and sketches. Now, the walls of this luxurious inn and restaurant are covered with the works of these luminaries.
The Colombe d’Or is a small hotel, with only sixteen rooms. Book early if you want the best! In addition to the art, this haven includes a lush garden, a spectacular outdoor heated pool, a sauna and parking. There are myriad choices for dining in Saint-Paul but a meal at this auberge is a must. Lunch on the terrace ($35-50 per person) is a divine experience with magnificent, imposing views of the valley. Dinner in the dining room ($50-150 per person) is a special occasion meal surrounded by original art work normally reserved for museums.
Other dining options in town run the gamut. The average cost for dinner for two with one cocktail and two courses averages $55-60. Reservations are encouraged for all of them for dinner, and you might prepare yourself now — when we visited there was no such thing as a “non-smoking” section. Following are some suggestions.
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> to learn the ins and outs of getting that French driver's license.
Travel on the Rise . . . Deals on the Decline
Following 2003, one of the worst years ever experienced by the tourism industry, people are once again packing their bags and traveling. Analysts predict that 2005 will be a very good year. Hotels and airlines were especially hard hit in 2003. Many reservations made were canceled or altered, prompting airlines and hotels to offer some great pricing deals for 2004 to boost their revenues.
It doesn't appear, however, that this period of bargains is going to last too much longer. Although there are still many good prices and interesting packages being promoted in the industry, the increase in traveler interest and the willingness of people to make plans and carry them through, is expected to put an end to cheaper travel.
If you are planning a trip within the next 12 months, now may be the time to shop around for that airline ticket. Planning ahead is always wise in any case!
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