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Some of the most attractive features of Provence are the ‘villages perchés’ or perched villages, which organically rise from rocky headlands and hilltops. Created for defensive purposes during the political turmoil of the Middle Ages, they are characterised by: medieval ramparts surrounding the entire village; fountains as water sources; overhead arcades to support buildings and provide shelter; narrow winding streets; small entry gates; and abrupt turning streets to confuse invaders. St. Paul de Vence Eze , and Roquebrune are all fine examples along the French Riviera and therefore close to our portfolio of our holiday apartments and villas to let (to view our selection, click here: Property Search ), however if you are happy to hire a car or even a car and driver, you can travel further inland to visit a host of charming villages such as Aups, Tourtour, Moustiers Ste. Marie, Les Baux Provence, Salon de Provence . . .
Only 8km North of Cannes , the once fortified town of Mougins is over 1000 years old, but has probably never been so popular as a place to enjoy the good life as in recent years - a charming hilltop village filled with galleries, art studios, cafes, excellent restaurants and surrounded by forests and parks. Picasso who could afford to live anywhere in the world, elected to live in a beautiful property nearby this picturesque town, which is renown for its excellent cuisine. It is the quintessential French village: stone houses lovingly preserved, wooden shutters, flower baskets, fountains, cobbled streets . . The chapel is worth a visit. In summer the colours and smells are truly magical. You too can enjoy living in this beautiful area, for your next vacation why not rent one of our villas in Mougins, click here to view our selection.
A craggy perched village on a mountaintop 19 kilometres Northeast of Nice. It is one of the least spoiled of the perched villages and has retained its menacing medieval appearance with covered alleys and tiny, narrow cobbled streets. Its streets are stepped with houses that have scarcely changed since the Middle Ages. There is an attractive cobbled square with fine views and the 18th century parish church with an unusual octagonal lantern. Most impressive are the frescos of Giovanni Canavesio in the Chapelle des Penitents Blancs. Peillon’s authenticity is probably due to the fact that tour buses tend to avoid it, whilst thankfully artists, writers and musicians have embraced its peace and tranquillity, not to mention the beautiful walks through the surrounding forests. Peillon is 373 metres above sea level and was believed in ancient times to mark the boundary of the inhabited world.
Along the wonderfully named ‘Grande Corniche’ is found Roquebrune. This village is accessible by train (30 minutes from Nice), however be warned that a seriously arduous march straight up the mountain awaits you. But the charm of the village of Roquebrune make it well worth the trip – and besides think about those ‘buns of steel’ you will have by the time you reach the top! At the bottom of the hill (and therefore far more accessible) is Cap Martin situated on a forested peninsula. Roquebrune is reputed to have the earliest feudal château in France - the sole remaining example of Carolingian architecture. Built in the 10th century by Conrad I, Count of Ventimiglia to thwart Saracen invasions, it was later remodelled by the Grimaldi family. In 1911, a wealthy, eccentric Englishman, Sir William Ingram bought the château and added a mock medieval tower. To view our holiday villas to let in Roquebrune Cap Martin , click here.
A classic rendition of the famous Provencal perched villages. Perfectly preserved, and set within the ramparts lies a maze of tiny cobbled streets filled with galleries and art studios. This celebrity village was first ‘discovered’ by Bonnard, Modigliani, and others in the 1920s. Since then, many of the rich and famous have flocked to St. Paul. The local museum displays photos of some of these visitors, such as Simon de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Catherine Deneuvre, Sophia Loren, Greta Garbo . . . Many of whom slept and dined at the Colombe d’Or auberge. Today it has an incredible 20th century art collection built up over the years from struggling artists who paid with their paintings in lieu of money. The collection includes works by Miró, Picasso and Braque. You can dine here also (but book well ahead) and enjoy the famous artwork, or a more humble option is lunch at one of the picturesque cafes in the village. The Fondation Maeght is a short walk from the village. Here you will find one of the best private collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. The main street runs from the 13th century entrance gate of ‘Porte Royale’, past the ‘Grande Fontaine’ to the ‘Porte Sud’, which looks out to the cemetery where Chagall, the Maeghts, and Escoffier rest in peace in this beautiful spot overlooking the sea and the terraced countryside. To view our holiday villas to let in St. Paul de Vence , click here.
Is a pretty, ancient hilltop town - a magical place filled with tiny lanes, steps, and vaulted passages. It is dominated by the Château Grimaldi and also has some rare Renaissance houses as well as the church of St Pierre in which the famous Grimaldi family are entombed. ‘Les Collettes’, the home of Renoir, is to the East of Cagnes. It was built amongst ancient olive trees by Renoir, who came here in the 1890s for his rheumatism. He built the house in 1907 and stayed for the rest of his life. A photo of Renoir in his final year shows him doggedly working with a brush tied to his crippled hand. You can visit the Musée Renoir and his house, which has been faithfully left exactly as it was during his lifetime and also explore the lovely garden and olive groves. To view our holiday villas to let in Cagnes , click here.
This unspoilt town overlooking a deep water harbour is just over the hill from Nice, but a world away in terms of ambiance. Villefranche is filled with pretty coloured buildings that picturesquely sit beside the sea. Its waterfront is lined with cafes and restaurants and makes a fabulous spot to dine. The medieval chapel of St Pierre on the quay was once used for storing fishing nets, but renovated in 1957 when Jean Cocteau created his beautiful yet simple frescos. Even in the height of summer when there are throngs of tourists, a few minutes walk up into the old town reveals a tranquil haven ‘far from the madding crowd’. The vaulted rue Obscure is a rare example of a covered street and provided shelter for the villages inhabitants in WWII during aerial bombardment by the Allies. The fortress contains a series of museums and has some wonderful views across the harbour to St. Jean Cap Ferrat. To view our holiday villas to let in Villefranche Sur Mer click here.
A perfectly preserved medieval village that sits majestically on top of a craggy clifftop some 427 metres above the sea. The views are truly spectacular, on a clear day you can see all the way to Corsica. The maze of tiny streets in Eze are home to a few inhabitants, the odd café, restaurant and craft boutique. It is quite magical – organically built and yet so perfect with bougainvillea and jasmine vines intertwined with stone walls and houses. At the top are the ruins of a 14th century castle destroyed in the 18th century. To get to this point you enter through the Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden), which has little meandering paths and is filled with cacti and sculptures. The 18th century church has a bust of Christ made from olive wood that miraculously survived terrible fires in 1986. Another attraction of this village is the Chèvre d’Or (Golden Goat) - a hotel, restaurant and bar which is composed of a series of village houses. Well worth a visit to the bar to admire the views and beautiful terraced garden filled with sculptures. To view our holiday villas to let in Eze (20), click here.
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