It wasn't easy to get here.

It wasn’t easy to get here, so you might at least look pleased to see us!

“Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur? What do you mean, ‘Complet’? It’s taken us an hour to find the bus stop and another 45 minutes to wait for your bus to come along and now you’re saying you’re full?

How are we supposed to get to Saint-Paul if every bloody bus…Ok, d’accord, Monsieur, you only drive the damn thing. Nice beard, by the way.”

We know there often isn’t a lot of public transport into walled mediaeval villages perched on Provencal hilltops. But Saint-Paul-de-Vence isn’t just any mediaeval village. It’s now a tourist mecca, thanks to the artists, past and present, who have lived and worked there. A lot of us want to see it.

After further searching, a visit to the Office de Tourisme, Cagnes-sur-Mer, lunch and a short wait, we found bus 400. For one euro (are there cheaper buses anywhere in Europe?) it took us half an hour inland.

Saint Paul de Vence was made famous by residents Marc Chagall and James Baldwin, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, who legend has it was a whiz at petanque in the town. Now it draws tourists by the busload to clog its narrow streets and browse its ateliers and souvenir shops.

In a way, Saint Paul serves as an elaborate gift shop for one fabulous museum just out of town. We particularly wanted to visit the Fondation Maeght (we were pleased that even our French friends didn’t know how to pronounce ‘Maeght’), Marguerite and Aime Maeght’s wonderful private collection of paintings and sculpture by Miro, Leger, Bonnard, Gloria Friedmann and others, set in beautiful forest on a hillside.

But first to wander through Saint Paul itself…

The Grand Fountain.

The Grand Fountain.

A quiet corner of Saint Paul, though there were busy ones right beside it.

A quiet corner of Saint Paul. There were busy ones right beside it.

Saint Paul alleyway.

Saint Paul alleyway.

Saint Paul arches.

Saint Paul arches.

'Courtesy costs nothing' read his t-shirt, but this Japanese guide and his party elbowed us aside to get to Chagall's    grave.

‘Courtesy costs nothing’ read his t-shirt, but this Japanese guide and his party elbowed us aside to get to Chagall’s grave.

…after which, with rain threatening, we tramped about a kilometre up the hill to Fondation Maeght. Few others took the trouble. The museum was almost empty – everybody else’s loss and our gain.

Entry to Fondation Maeght costs EUR15, plus EUR5 for photographic rights. I made sure I got my money’s worth.

Fondation Maeght, with Gloria Friedmann sculpture  in foreground.

Fondation Maeght, with Gloria Friedmann sculpture in foreground.

Joan Miro, Personnage.

Joan Miro, Personnage.

Miro's Labyrinth.

Miro’s Labyrinth.

I love the positioning of this Miro, thought the bent tree almost outdoes it.

I love the positioning of this Miro, though the bent tree almost outdoes it.

The bus 400 arrived two minutes after we found the bus stop and took us all the way into Nice (about an hour away) for a euro.


Filed under Art, Belgium, France

14 responses to “THE TROUBLE WE GO TO FOR ART!

  1. St Paul de Vence is well worth the trouble. I will be looking for that gallery next time we go.

  2. Oh the Fondation Maeght is the best part, though getting there adds a little to the trouble.

  3. Great pictures of the Fondation! I am glad you persevered, Richard! For me it’s always a joy to find out that hardly anyone takes the trouble of hiking up that hill.

  4. Staying in Cagnes Sur mer – Haut Cagnes actually – made it simpler to navigate to St Paul de Vence, that we found picturesque but way too crowded and touristy. We loved Fondation Maeght,

    • We just passed through Cagnes-sur-Mer on the train and Haut Cagnes looked terrific from a distance. We should have given it a chance. There is a Renoir Musee there, but it was closed for renovations, we’d been told. Hmmm…

      Fortunately Fondation Maeght made the day worthwhile.

  5. I’m so glad to ehar you made it to the Fondation. I’ve always had bad look with it: either cranky kids around (some 20 years ago), a tight schedule, after hours or too hot even for the adults (1.5 years ago). We found St-P-de-V even more touristic than in the early 90s when we first visited but I’m sure I’ll continue to go there, if only to make it inside the Fondation one day. And you are correct about the bus fare, that is cheap!

    • Not exactly perfect weather for us (some rain) but perfect conditions for keeping the crowds away. Thanks again for your recommendation of Villa Ephrussi – a highlight of this trip for us.

  6. That’s one of my favorite areas — love your photos of it. Foundation Maeght was the first time I ever appreciated modern art. I agree about the crowds though. When I mentioned to a guide that I loved the place but not the crowds she introduced us to Gourdon, which doesn’t have the many artistes associated with it but is picturesque and so much less crowded. Love the Ville Ephrussi! Thanks so much for the lovely reminder

  7. Gosh, talk about picturesque and quaint! Well done on getting there eventually. 🙂

    But paying extra to be allowed to take photographs – man, that always upsets me intensely! I don’t think it’s that prevalent here in SA (yet), but it seems to be particularly prevalent in Europe, right?

  8. Pingback: France: Part IV - Provence | Ocean Violet

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