The walled medieval village of St-Paul-de-Vence is a pretty, car-free hill town overlooking rugged hills and valleys high in the backcountry above Cannes . Its pleasures—ramparts, charming narrow streets,
rich smells of rosemary, lavender, and pine—endure even when throngs ascend in high season.St-Paul was a magnet for artists such as Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Chagall, Dubuffet, and Léger in the 1920s, who would gather at the Colombe d’Or. Today the walls of this eclec-tic hotel and restaurant are lined with their art. Sit by the pool, next to a tiled mural by Braque or a Calder sculpture, or enjoy Provençal dishes in the leafy courtyard decorated with a Léger mural. The Hôtel Le Saint-Paul sits close by,
an enticing stylish hideaway in a converted 16th-century bourgeois home, with terraces overlooking the valley and a restaurant that takes its food seriously.Art by the masters who lived or worked here is beautifully showcased in the impressive gal-leries and gardens of the Fondation Maeght.Opened in 1964, it’s considered the richest col-lection of 20th-century art of any private museum in Europe: Its 40,000 works include more than 50 sculptures by Giacometti, 150 pieces by Miró, and art by Kandinsky, Calder, Matisse, and many others.The unpretentious village of Vence, with one of the best outdoor markets in the region, was also an artists’ haven—Marc Chagall, who lived here from 1950 until his death in 1985, produced a beautiful mosaic in Vence’s 11th-century cathedral.
Matisse created what he felt was his masterpiece in helping design and decorate the Chapelle du Rosaire (known as the Matisse Chapel), considered the great-est ensemble artwork of the 20th century. Casual luxury and top-flight cuisine reign at the serene Château St-Martin, a stately retreat on the site of a 12th-century crusaders’ fortress with a panoramic terrace and views of the Mediterranean. Gentler prices can be found at Auberge des Seigneurs, in the center of Vence. It has six bright, airy rooms and a popular restaurant specializing in delicious spit-roasted meats.