Not all of life on the cote d’Azur is centered on the oceanfront with its exquisite wide beaches and quaint and lovely towns full of museums and shops and row after row of cafes and restaurants. Go a few miles or kilometers inland and there lies a number of small appealing hill towns each with a special quality of their own.
A short drive or bus ride inland from Nice, where the air is lighter and fresher, is Vence, a thriving, lovely little hill town with a well-preserved medieval town center which daily draws visitors from near and far. Yes, it’s quite touristy, but full of very friendly locals who are eager to welcome their visitors, and, being touristy means the old and quaint medieval character will continue to be preserved. Strolling along the narrow car-free lanes is an easy and pleasant experience. No need to rush, nothing moves very fast here. The whole town can be seen in a couple of hours. But then there are lots of shops and boutiques and art galleries to entice you to stop in and spend some time. Additionally, a number of small and intimate restaurants and cafes provide a refreshing and restful stop over.
I visited a small artist gallery selling some very fine raku pottery and enjoyed chatting with the artist who was willing to suspend progress on her latest work in order to share a bit of creative discourse (Maria Rousguisto : See her website mariarousguisto.com). Afterwards, I had a peaceful and pleasant lunch at a small outdoor café under a canopy of shade trees which filled a small square near the cathedral. The place was so quiet, only the sound of melodic birds and children playing nearby. I did not want to leave.