Some friends have asked “so what was the highlight of your trip to France?”
My answer: if I had to pick one, it would be Les Baux de Provence. If I could pick two, it would be Les Baux and Feyence. If I could pick three, I’d add Vence. If I could pick four, I’d add Saint Paul de Vence. I could keep going, but these four were the true highlights for me.
Les Baux is a place I’ll never forget. We had gone to Arles earlier in the day (to see the Roman stuff) and got to Les Baux after 3 PM – a very good thing as it turns out if you’re hoping for a parking space near the top of the hill by the entrance!
But what was really different for me at Les Baux was the whole “top of the world” feeling – enhanced as it was by some really amazing music that the weapons demo staff were playing in their little corner of the Les Baux world. Wow, a very special time and place.
Feyence ended up being my very favorite hillside town – a very non-touristy place that just felt like it might be home. The airport/gliderport down in the valley below Feyence helped me appreciate that it had the “right stuff”!
Vence has that same “hometown” feeling – far enough away from the craziness of the coast, and up in the beautiful hills. But it’s bigger, almost a city in its feel as compared to the “town” feel of Feyence. Alas, it’s also far too hilly for hosting anything like silly airplanes nearby.
Saint Paul de Vence is in a class by itself in terms of the beauty of the village – but it’s also “unreal” in that it’s hard to imagine actually living there among the galleries and shops.
I forgot to mention La Colle sur Loup, just down the road a piece from Saint Paul and a wonderful village. We had some great crepes there on a Saturday night while the “Big Band” was playing in the town square. Everyone in the town was out bouncing to the music, the lead singer had a great repertoire of Frank Sinatra classics, and we really felt right at home. Our friends at Villa St. Maxime suggested the tapas place in La Colle sur Loup “for next time” – turns out it’s their favorite spot.