Star-Studded Artist Hideaway
Part of the fun of being in Provence is exploring the beautiful old stone villages that knit together the rolling farms and vineyards. There are so many worth getting to know, but if you only have time to visit one, you cannot go wrong with a day in St. Paul de Vence.
Rising in the rocky hills between Nice and Cannes, this charming medieval village in one of the oldest and most picturesque along the French Riviera. It’s a pure delight to stroll the ancient cobblestone streets lined with flowers, antique shops and sidewalk cafes, but what makes St. Paul
de Vence even more attractive lies just outside the city walls. There, you’ll find a place artists and influencers have been flocking to for nearly one hundred years: La Colombe D’Or.
Since opening in the 1920s, this iconic family-run hotel has grown from a restaurant to a 3-room lodging, to a 30-room boutique retreat housed in a petite medieval castle. With its simple stone facade and classic country furnishings, it’s chic in that understated, timeless way Provence does so well. More important than the style, amenities and accommodations however, is the art that hangs on the walls.
In the early days of La Colombe D’Or, the hotel and restaurant became a hub for France’s thriving modern art scene. Through WWII, legendary painters like Picasso, Chagall, Miró and Matisse would come in search of a safe haven, exchanging their work for a stay and a meal or two. Over the years the ownership amassed an incredible collection to rival a small museum—and you don’t even have to book a room to see it. In the grand dining room and castle halls, masterful works of art hang casually like decoration in someone’s home. With no velvet ropes or watchful docents, here you can actually reach out and touch a Picasso.
In the 50s and 60s, La Colombe D’Or’s painterly crowd gave way to the biggest names in French cinema and entertainment. Icons like the director François Truffaut and the chanteuse Edith Piaf made the hotel into the most famous celebrity salon in the South of France. These days, the auberge continues to attract an international A-list from Paris, London, Milan, New York, Hollywood and beyond.
For a one-of-a-kind adventure that brings together the best elements of Provençal culture, do not miss your chance to visit La Colombe D’Or and have lunch out on the patio, surrounded by lush green mountains and gardens dotted with famous sculptures. Don’t forget to peak inside, where you’ll find the perfect ambiance for a romantic dinner, with candlelight and colorful bouquets on every surface. Whenever you opt to dine, be sure to make a reservation—even during the off-season La Colombe D’Or has no trouble filling every table with super chic jet setters, there to enjoy the art, the ambiance and the traditional Provençal cuisine.
The kitchen at La Colombe D’Or honors history, serving regional specialties just as it has for decades to the most discerning of French palates. Your meal may begin with the famous crudités basket—a colorful abundance of garden-fresh veggies served whole with an irresistible anchovy sauce. Or you can opt for the Provençal hors d’oeuvres, an assortment of traditional appetizers like roasted peppers and onions, herring, and stuffed zucchini served in little ceramic dishes.
For mains you’ll find pastas, fish, seafood and meats that shine with classic country preparations—like poached cod served with veggies, hard boiled eggs and aioli, or steak with béarnaise sauce and potatoes dauphinoise. Complete with an expertly selected glass of local French wine—perhaps a Côte D’Azur rosé—and a slice of rustic dark chocolate cake, it’s outstanding and quintessential cuisine that will never go out of style—and the cherry on top to an unforgettable day in the countryside.