From the sea to the Alps
Besides enjoying the calm atmosphere of the walled village itself, take in the surrounding landscape and see the tower at Portail Levis from the outside, overlooking the valley, with the dramatic snowcapped Alps in the background.
"Vence: your local Matisserie"
You buy pastry from a patisserie. So you get your Matisse from a Matisserie, right?.
The main reason to visit Vence is the legacy of Matisse, where a number of his masterworks are to be seen.
Here is the wonderous stain glass of his Chapelle du Rosaire, which he described as the culmination of his lifes work,created while he was in his eighties. Everything is white - walls, ceilings, doors, except for the lemon yellow, bottle green and ultramarine of the glass, flooding the chapel with calming coloured light.
Matisse was nursed through his final years in ill-health here in Vence by a former model of his, who had joined the convent next door to this chapel
The chapel is a brisk walk out of Vence, which also gives you the chance to see the whole of the town from the hillside opposite. Vence is perhaps better looked at from outside than from inside looking out.
"Chagall mosaic in the baptistry of the Cathedral"
Not to be seen as just a one-artist town, Vence resident Marc Chagall executed this beautiful mosaic of Moses in the Bullrushes fittingly overlooking the baptistry font.
In 1971 all the members of The Rolling Stones moved to the South of France as tax-exiles. Bassist Bill Wyman ended up staying a dozen years. In Vence, near St Paul , he bought a plot of land, built a house, and then found himself near Marc Chagall. Chagall was in his eighties by then, but he and Bill quickly established a warm friendship., celebrated in the limited edition photography book "Wyman shoots Chagall"
Other rock residents include Jon Anderson, lead vocalist of 80's band Yes, who created a recording studio in a converted farmhouse near Vence.
"More Matisse: Chapel of the Penitents"
Within the Chapel of the Penitents can be seen Matisse's Stations of the Cross as a grossly-simplified black and white sketch. Entrance is free.