Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wooden beamed ceilings at La Colombe d'Or

One of the many amazing things about La Colombe d'Or is the multiple extraordinary beamed ceilings that lend the homespun peasant chateau atmosphere to room after room, including here above, the ceiling in the open sitting room on the third floor solarium with the wall of windows making this a perfect sun room. Then below is the arched wooden beams of the breakfast nook off the firepit area of the main dining room on the ground floor.  This patio area overlooks the swimming pool, and is a frequent gathering point in the late morning over coffee, eggs and newspapers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Church tower at dawn...St Paul de Vence

At the crown of St Paul de Vence, at its highest point, is the church and the bell tower.  We found our way to its foot and shot these pictures of the bell tower against the blue sky. The brilliant white stone tower is the signature structure in St Paul, its bells pealing across the village, marking each hour, and echoing in the valley below.
The sanctuary is timeless, simple, and quietly astonishing, a pristine time chamber to the antiquity of the church, and a living parish at the center of a priceless location. Then its back the way we came,  down the cobbled pathway seen below, a maze of tiny streets that wind and twist in the empty beauty of the early morning, where even the dewey fresh smell of the morning air is a distinct mood elevator that the Devil Dog, ever attentive, relishes in.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A hidden town house in St Paul de Vence

That same morning, as we wandered the back alleys and slighted patheways thru nooks and corners of St Paul de Vence, we stumbled upon this magnificant home, a compound behind iron gates of ageless wonder, the morning light streaming across its golden stone in that glorious glow of dawns momentary wonder.   The Devil Dog is no stranger to the finery of house and hearth, but the placement of such a place at the heart of all the beauty and meticulous splendor around it caught him at the moment, and it makes him smile to think that it is there still, exactly as we see it here....waiting.....for our return.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Morning light...St Paul de Vence

The sun comes up across the ridegetop on the other side of the valley beneath St. Paul de Vence and the elegantly fabulous hotel La Colombe d'Or. Here, in the picture above, the Devil Dog watches  the sunrise through the windows of the open sitting room on the third floor veranda overlooking the pool and the multicolored roof tiles, steam rising from a chimney vent in the golden glow of the morning sun.

So we wander into town at dawns early light, passing the high walls of the ramparts of the ancient medieval Roman hilltop town of St Paul de Vence, here at their razors edge,  while the morning sun blazes behind its portholes.
And the village is deserted, morning sounds of quietude filling the ambient abundance. Along the walls and back alleys and then down the long central narrow street that is the arterial flow of St Paul de Vence. Towards the end of that street we see the view looking past  the Hotel St.Paul, the alley twisting to an end point, an apex, then a ridgetop cemetery and the valley below.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The steps of the church in St Paul de Vence

Speaking of my beautiful wife, here she is on the steps of the church in the middle of St Paul de Vence, whose bell tower is seen in all panoramic shots at the very top of the village. The Devil Dog and his wife, the renowned photographer Alison Reynolds, have traipsed the world together, and yet we always return to the south of France, drawn to its abundant character, pristine medieval villages, fabulous atmosphere, and as we see here, the simple charms of an ancient church in a tiny village.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Breakfast on the sunlit patio at La Colombe d'Or

So the sun was rising, flooding the patio with the golden glow of the morning. The Devil Dog is lucky enough to be married to the brilliant photographer Alison Reynolds, whose work has graced many of my newspaper feature articles, and who more importantly is the brilliant zenith at the center of my life and the glowing joy at the heart of the essense of beauty, a fiery partner in life whose passion burns as brilliantly today as it did 20 years ago when we met or 14 yearsago when we were married.  There is no more beautiful moment than the one you have shared in the brilliance of the morning sun in the south of France. Here is that moment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Portrait of a village come to life - St Paul de Vence

And then the buses arrive, the shops open and the village comes to life. The Devil Dog never tired of walking the streets of St Paul de Vence whether abandoned or teeming with life. One main street, a widened alley really, traverses the whole of the village from point to point, where most of the shops are located, and half an alley over two more parrallel pathways are purely residential, mystical, and providential, a living breathing organism from 2000 years ago, resurrected in the flesh at fulcrum of culture and antiquity., with quiet homes and ancient cul de sacs where St Paul de Vence truly lives.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hotel St. Paul....a Relais Aux Chateau retreat

La Colombe d'Or is not the only luxury hotel in St Paul de Vence.  At one end of the village is the lovely and sumptuous Hotel St.Paul, a superb luxury hotel with amazing views, a fabulous Michellin starred restaurant, and a terrific romantic getaway. In fact, on the Devil Dogs honeymoon, long before he was a travel writer, he and his lovely wife came to St. Paul de Vence as part of our month long sojourn from Paris to Rome and couldn't get in to La Colombe d'Or (it was booked solid), so we stayed at Hotel St. Paul for two nights. I'm happy to report that it is still just as lovely as it was 14 years ago, the restaurant is still superb, and in the summer, dinner on the open patio is a virtually religous experience, especially when they wheel out the fromage cart amidst the twinkling lights and the cool summer wind, our mind set on delight, our sense on overdrive, all enhanced by a fine bottle of wine.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quaint 400 year old homes in St Paul de Vence

There's a sense of wonder as we meander through alleyways and tiny streets past wondrous very old homes in St.Paul de Vence.  Its a feeling of immersion into a time long past that has somehow survived into the modern age, that we are free to experience and ponder. Like what, the Devil Dog ponders, would it be like to live in the house above, a solitary two story sentinel at the intersection of three divergent streets. 
The wonder of St Paul de Vence is how the ancient village has been reinvented as an arts center, with lovely shops,and fine art, and craftsm,en, and a thriving community, and yet never loses the feel of a tiny mountaintop village.  Like the charming 400 year old house above, an elegant corner of the past come to life with brilliance and charm......indeleble charm...incalculably affecting....and joy affirming.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The narrow streets of St Paul de Vence

St Paul de Vence is a village on the crown of a hill, a ridgetop really, with medieval walls, tiny pathways that pass for streets, and an incredible sense of ease and ancient flow to the place, in spite of it being a raging tourist destination in the summer.

The Devil Dog and his beautiful wife took to the streets as the sun was rising and snapped these pictures of the narrow streets and lovely stone houses that fill this village like a French Acropolis at the summit of the hill.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Second floor four room suite at La Colombe d'Or

Imagine a four room suite extending all the way across one wing of the second floor of La Colombe d'Or.  From our bedroom window, as seen in an earlier post, we could watch the sun rise over the valley and illuminate the outdoor patio, and look out over the main square and the Boulle court from the other window.

Thick wooden beams give a 16th century feel to the ceilings, while the large living room gives way to a sitting area, an elevated armoir area , and then a sumptuous bedroom chamber. The Devil Dog was more than impressed. His wife was even more blown away.  It was like an apartment instead of a hotel room, richly appointed with beautiful works of art, not hotel room art, but real works of collectable art every bit as impressive as what hangs in the bar and the dining rooms.

Here we see the bed chamber and beautiful beamed ceiling. La Colombe d'Or is more like a gathering place for old friends in need of relaxation in genuine unique luxury that is defined as the beauty of the moment all around you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Cemetery at St Paul de Vence

St Paul de Vence  is a fortified medieval town at the crown of a ridge top.  At the far end of the town, on a promontory that comes to a point, sits the village cemetery, neat rows of tombs and mausoleums that has been the final resting place for local families for hundreds of years.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fire Pit

On the other side of the dining room at La Colombe d'Or is what the Devil Dog dubbed the fire pit, a comfortable couch area around a detached fireplace.  On the walls surrounding the room are, naturally, a plethora of fine art by some of the leading creative geniuses of the 20th century, casually on display with a panache that bespeaks the unique character of this magical place.

Here in this corner are a trio of works that could be hanging in the Met or the MOMA in New York.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


 What the game is called depends on where you are from. Boulle or Pentanque, either way it is the same game. And on the main square of St Paul de Vence, in sight of my window at the Colombe d'Or, every afternoon the men of the village gather for several hours of this wonderful communal game as the sun fades from the sky.  These men are town character, an unchanging array of faces and wizened smiles as they ply their steel balls towards their target, acknowledging each others luck and brilliance with shrugs and heated discussion

And this is how the main square where the ritual takes place looks from the Devil Dogs hotel window at La Colombe d'Or. The rythym of a village is often found on its courts where Boulle...or Pentanque...continues each day...unabated...whether I am there or not.