All about Vence

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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 – 2022

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

Hike Vence – Baou des Blancs

The hike from the center of Vence to the top of Baou des Blancs is a stunningly beautiful and varied trip all year round. When ...
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, ...

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.
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