First thing Friday morning, my mom, sister and Margaret arrived…
This was our favorite day in France yet! A long post for a long, fun day. Woke up this morning to rain outside the windows on one side of the apartment and a big rainbow on the other side. Vence (pronounced “vance”) is adorable and we love it already. It’s like Aix-en-Provence and Nice had a perfect, 1,500-year-old baby.
Despite the rain, the town is bustling with people out for Sunday morning shopping. Rob and I grab a quiche and a warm chocolate croissant from a crowded bakery and set out to find the walking trail to St. Paul de Vence. The tourism office isn’t open to provide a map, so we are winging it.
We find our first “chemin” (trail) on the south of town.
That trail leads us down to a wooded road. It feels a lot like California, with oak trees along the path.
The occasional stone ruin and chapel reminds us that we’re far from home.
An hour’s walk later and we pop-out into St. Paul de Vence. This small walled town is much fancier and more touristy than Vence, full of art galleries. The tiny streets must be absolute madness in the summer.
We stop in a little cafe and the owner sets us up with coffee out on a bench across the street overlooking the valley. You can see Cannes in the distance.
We wander around the city and visit the small church. There are some very cute cafes outside the ramparts and brave people eating at outside tables between rain showers.
A few locals, and their shaggy dogs, are among the groups of Italian, Canadian and Chinese tourists.
I explore the Fragonard Parfumeur shop – absolutely darling! Rob and I are surprisingly hungry and discover that it’s nearly 2:00 already. Where has the time gone?
We stop in for what my family would call a “step out” lunch at Le Vieux Moulin. It is full of French families and smells divine. Start off with a half bottle of a crisp Cote d’Azur white wine and an appetizer of artichokes with arugula and truffled panisses (remember when we discovered this chickpea polenta back in Nice?).
Risotto with wild mushrooms for Rob’s main entree and homemade gnocci with fresh herbs, cheese and pancetta for me.
Warm chocolate cake with almond vanilla bean ice cream and two coffees for dessert.
The owner pours us tiny glasses of homemade limoncello to end our meal.
Two hours later, we’re not the last people in the restaurant, but close to it. A perfect Sunday meal for our last weekend in France!
It’s a little drizzly out as we head back to Vence on the trail right behind the restaurant.
What a view!
We walk past a local couple harvesting olives from their grove.
A couple of adorable little dogs out for walks with their owners greet us happily on the trail and we throw sticks for them. Back in the woods, we cross a creek before climbing up to Vence.
Back in town about 5:00 and the village is decidedly closed for the night. We manage to find the one tiny market that is open and buy supplies: baguette, camembert, red grapes, wine and apricot cookies.
This porcelain urn, the size of a quarter, is a souvenir of our amazing day hiking in the Pays Vencois.