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Vence is a picturesque old cathedral city with a very special appeal, where art and history play a central role – and houses the smallest cathedral in France.


Porte Peyra Vence
The famous entrance gate to the old town in Vence – Porte Peyra

Vence is perfect located

The town of Vence is in many ways perfectly located in the shelter of the Baou mountains, with a climate that – especially in summer – is a few degrees cooler and at the same time a little less plagued by tourists than the popular coastline.

Vence is also a modern city full of culture, art and history that goes back more than 2000 years.

Here you will find clear traces of the Romans, a medieval town with France’s smallest cathedral and works of art by Henri Matisse, which attract tourists from all over the world and many other interesting things.

As Vence is not a very large city, much of the inhabitants’ everyday life and interesting experiences are concentrated in and around the old medieval city.

Concert on Place Clemenceau, Vence
Concert on Place Clemenceau in the old town with France’s smallest cathedral in the background – ©

Life is lived both inside and outside the old walls and this is especially evident around Port Peyra. Here is the popular Henry’s bar just outside the city walls and only 20 meters within the city walls you will find the old Place Peyra with cozy outdoor restaurants and small charming shops.

Romans, Medieval City & Vence’s history

Vence’s history goes far back to the beginning of the paleolithic and neolithic ages (the stone age) which is uncovered by archaeological finds. A small Celto-Ligurian tribe settled here and founded Vence.

In 151 BC the Romans occupied the city and there are several significant sites and ruins which bear witness to the Roman occupation.

Around the third century, the village converted to Christianity and a century later, the diocese of Vence was founded. The Notre-Dame-de-la-Nativité Cathedral was built to replace a former pagan temple dedicated to the planet Mars.

France’s smallest cathedral Notre-Dame-de-la-Nativité – ©

At the height of the French Riviera, this beautiful medieval town has managed to preserve its narrow streets and shady squares within the thousand-year-old walls with the soothing song of the fountains in the background.

The city is surrounded by olive trees at the foot of the Baou mountain range. A bell tower with geometric lines reaches beyond the ocher roofs, the very image of a typical locality in Nice’s hinterland.

Among the best preserved in France

Architecture enthusiasts will notice Vence’s very special layout: in the 14th century, the houses were built at the back of the ramparts to protect them. Therefore, these medieval constructions are among the best preserved in France!

Admire the details of the houses with blue-colored slatted shutters along the ancient Roman road: they seem to tell the story of an entire era. Continue your journey through time all the way to Place Godeau, where you will see an ancient Roman pillar that was probably part of a temple.

Roman pillar at Place Godeau

The charming square is located at the foot of the impressive Cathedral of the Church of the Nativity, which overlooks the houses of the old town.

By Steen Meedom – 2020

Facts about Vence
Inhabitants: ca. 20.000
Altitude: 325 m
Airport: 16 km
Beach: 12 km
Nice: 22 km

Cities close by:
Saint-Paul de Vence 3 km
Tourettes-sur-Loup 7,5 km
La Gaude 10 km
Saint Jeannet 10 km

Experiences in Vence
  • All
  • Art
  • Churches & chapels
  • Culture & History
  • Fountains
  • Hiking
  • Hotels
  • Markets
  • Museums
  • Tourist office
  • Viewpoints
  • Wash-houses
Tourist office

The tourist office in Vence

The tourist office in Vence is located on the Place du Grand Jardin in a very beautiful Belle Époque villa.

hotel i Vence Hotels

Hotels in Vence

Here you will find an overview of the hotels in the cozy medieval town of Vence, only a 20-minute drive from Nice airport.

Culture & History

Villa Alexandrine in Vence

La Villa Alexandrine, in Vence, is a unique Belle Époque architecture, which today houses the local tourist office and the museum of the Polish writer, Witold Gombrowicz.


Hike to Saint-Paul de Vence

This hike to Saint-Paul de Vence from the center of Vence is neither too long nor too strenuous, but rather beautiful and cozy.

Churches & chapels

Saint Elisabeth chapel

Saint Elisabeth chapel in Vence impresses with its rediscovered fresco paintings by Giovanni Canavesio, and its history dates back to the 14th century.


The markets in Vence

A visit to the markets in Vence is a must if you really want to feel the character and authenticity of the city.


The Museum of Vence

The Musée de Vence / Fondation Émile Hugues is situated in the heart of the historic city center and is among the very popular sights on the Côte d’Azur.

Churches & chapels

Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-la-Nativité

Here in the middle of the old medieval town of Vence you will find France’s smallest cathedral. Usually one expects cathedrals to be large and impressive…


The Peyra fountain

It stands in the city’s most idyllic square and has been watered from the Foux spring since its birth in 1822.


Viewpoint – F. Moutet

From near and far you can see the Baou Mountains rising majestically on the horizon. Depending on from where one looks at the mountains, they assume different…


The Wash-house at Avenue des Poilus

The wash-houses have their own history, which dates from the 19th century and testifies to the challenges of the …


Gombrowicz Museum

Dedicated to the Polish master writer Witold Gombrowitz and beautifully situated in Villa Alexandrine.

Churches & chapels

Chapel Pénitents Blancs

This chapel is the largest and most interesting chapel in Vence. Centrally located, just a few hundred meters from Place Grand Jardin, on the ancient Roman road to Castallane…


Rosary Chapel by Matisse

The Rosary Chapel by Matisse is together with the cathedral in the old town Vence’s biggest attraction and one of Henri Matisse’s greatest masterpieces.

Selected experiences in cities close to Vence
  • All
  • Churches & chapels
  • Museums
Saint-Paul de Vence

The Collegial Church

The 17th century marked the golden age of the church in Saint-Paul de Vence. Here, in 1666 the church was raised to the rank of Collegial Church by the bishop Antoine Godeau of Vence

Saint-Paul de Vence

The Cemetery of Saint-Paul de Vence

One of the most visited cemeteries on the Côte d’Azur – here rests several celebrities – including Chagall & Maeght

Saint-Paul de Vence

Célestin Freinet school

The famous schoolteacher and educator Célestin Freinet (1896-1966) taught in Saint-Paul de Vence between 1928 and 1933.

Saint-Paul de Vence

The Folon chapel – The White Penitents

Experience the admirable Folon Chapel, a design work of Jean-Michel Folon and learn more about an artist who had strong ties to Saint-Paul de Vence for over thirty years.


The sundial in church Saint-Grégoire

The sundial is recognized as one of the very first instruments that men used to measure the passage of time because of its simplicity.


The Church Saint-Grégoire

Cool in summer and warm in winter. Hospitable and peaceful. The parish church of the Provencal medieval village of Tourettes-sur-Loup always welcomes you…

Saint-Paul de Vence

The Maeght Fondation art museum

The Maeght Fondation art museum welcomes more than 100,000 visitors in a unique architectural building designed by Josep Lluis Sert.


The Saint-Jean Chapel

The Saint-Jean chapel was built in 1674 and then destroyed by a hurricane in 1925. In 1959 the chapel was given new life thanks to …


Bastide aux Violettes

The museum allows you to discover the history of the Tourrettes, its terroir, all uses of the violet flower and to observe the cultivation methods and the flower in..

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