August 13, 2012
Alexander in Egypt, Lisbon in Portugal, Florence in Italy, Germany’s Berlin and St. Petersburg in Russia, these cities have got one thing in common – they have all at some point been referred to as being ‘Cities of Art’.
Perched in the fresh air on the hills between Nice and Antibes, the flower-lined town of Vence has also been cited as being a ‘City of Art’.
Bursting with sweet-smelling orange trees, aromatic flowers and olive trees in all directions and with a walled old town that is a sphere of medieval buildings with five ancient gateways known as “portes”, that looks virtually the same now as it did hundreds of years ago, it is not difficult to engage why Vence has attracted artists, writers and poets for centuries.
In the 12th century, Pierre Vidal, a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry referred to Vence as “Le doux repaire” – “The sweet nest”. In the 13th century, Italian poet and moral philosopher, Dante Alighieri, included the Lord of Vence, Romeo de Villenueve in his Paradise. Matisse, Soutine, Dubuffet and Dufy all spent time in Vence, working on artistic creations during some point of their careers.
The English novelist, poet, painter and playwright, D.H. Lawrence, spent the last days of his life on the Cote d’Azur in the town of Vence and died here in 1930. The legendary writer was actually buried in Vence for a short while, before his body was exhumed and taken to New Mexico.
The 16th century the French medical professional and writer, Michel de Nostredame, described Vence as being a “Garden of Vence, marvel of Provence”.
Having lured and attracted some of the greatest thinkers, writers and artists throughout the last five centuries, and being a town that today is still a hub for painters, sculptors and writers from around the world, it is only natural that Vence is brimming with art galleries, is decorated with quirky and unusual sculptures and is home to regular art exhibitions all year round.