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After spending two days exploring the city of Nice, we rented a car to explore the countryside.  This area is very hilly, with small towns perched on the edges of cliffs.  Many artists, including Chagall and Matisse, spent large portions of their working lives in this region.  We had a reservation in Vence, a small medieval town located a few miles to the west of Nice.

We stayed at an incredibly charming inn, the Auberge des Siegneurs, originally part of the château Villeneuve and set within the old town wall.  Our room had a plaque stating that Modigliani had stayed and painted in that room.

Entrance to Auberge des Siegneurs, Vence

The Modigliani Room at Auberge des Siegneurs

Reception room at Auberge des Siegneurs, Vence

Breakfast room and restaurant

We enjoyed walking around the small town of Vence.  Though many places were closed during the month of January, we visited the church and admired its Chagall mosaic near the baptismal font.

A cold, rainy day in Vence

Of course, Michael tried to translate the ancient Roman plaques by the entrance to the church.

We also visited the nearby town of St. Paul-de-Vence, which is more touristy than Vence.  The narrow streets are lined with art galleries and gift shops.

St. Paul-de-Vence

During the high tourist season, it must be nearly impossible to navigate these narrow passages.  In the dreary, cold rain, we seemed to have the place to ourselves.

On our final day, we drove through the Gorges du Loup to the precariously perched village of Gourdon.  The scenery was pretty spectacular, as the road passed under some rocky outcrops and curved along steep drop-offs.  We passed through the beautiful village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, known as the “City of Violets”.


After many twists and turns, we finally reached the town of Gourdon, with stunning vistas toward the Mediterranean.  During the night, snow had fallen at the higher elevations and temperatures hovered near freezing during the day.

The road to Gourdon

Entrance to the village of Gourdon

Panorama view from Place Victoria, Gourdon looking toward the Mediterranean

Looking back to Gourdon, on the road toward Grasse