On a recent trip abroad with my family, we decided to stop in Provence to enjoy another side of the fabulous French people. Rather than take in the normal Provencal cities, we gravitated to a small hillside town above the hustle and bustle of Nice. St. Paul de Vence sits towering on a hillside beckoning you to visit. Built in the middle ages, St. Paul officially became a town in 1388. It became a strong hold of the French Riviera with its fortified walls that surrounded the town. It is in fact the oldest medieval town on the Riviera.
What impressed me about the little town, is the integrity to its historical roots is manicured nicely to the modern shops and art galleries. We did not find the tacky tourist souvenirs that one might find in some of the other towns. There were no products on the street, just nicely displayed windows. Doors opened so you could wander in and out of the stores with ease. The shop owners were kind and helpful. All the products in the stores were local and unique to the region of France. You did not have to worry about a retailer getting their goods from a third world country. The souvenirs were truly worth taking away from of St. Paul.
I bought local jams, salts, and mustard that I would not have found here in the United States. I also bought lavender sachets tied up in the local Provencal cloth of the region. We did not have time to sit down and have a proper meal at a restaurant, but the smells emanating from the brasseries were divine! We did, however, find an ice cream store opened where we were able to enjoy the street life and cool weather. St. Paul de Vence is a must if you ever make it to the South of France!