St. Paul de Vence
Concierge.com's insider take:
The archetypal Provençal hilltop town, St. Paul de Vence calls itself "the most beautiful village in the world." This is debatablethere's plenty of competition in this part of Francebut the walled town is easily worth the nine-mile drive inland from Nice. St. Paul de Vence's main thoroughfare, the Grande Rue, is clogged with forgettable art galleries, but the side streets are lined with classic Provençal townhouses, and there are jaw-dropping views from the ramparts. As in many of the small towns on the coast, there is a disproportionate number of artistic masterpieces on display here: The hypermodernist Fondation Maeght is just outside of the old town and has a 9,000-piece collection of Matisse, Miró, Chagall, Braque, Calder, Léger, and Giacometti on a rotating exhibit schedule (33-4-93-32-81-63; www.fondation-maeght.com; open daily 10 am-12:30 pm and 2:30-6 pm October through June; 10 am-7 pm daily July through September). In Vence, three miles away, there's the Chapelle du Rosaire, with extraordinary stained-glass windows by Henri Matisse. The gastronomic arts are found in the old town at the Colombe d'Or restaurant, where Picasso and his cohorts swapped art for food, resulting in an astonishing art collection (33-4-93-32-80-02; www.la-colombe-dor.com). It's pricey and fantastically hard to get a reservation, so plan weeks in advance (months ahead in high season).