Located about 22km from Nice, in the interior of the Alpes Maritimes department, Vence is a 12th century medieval town. It has a great setting as it is situated between the mountains and the sea, in the ‘middle country’. Limestone mountains called Baous surround the town and give a rugged relief to the area. The climate there differs from the French Riviera’s one with warmer summers and colder winters.
Vence is a perfect starting point for excursions in the inland and the Alps. Vence and its surroundings are amongst the most attractive areas of the back-country of Maritimes Alps. Its 18,931 inhabitants - called the Vençois - boast a lovely town full of flowers. Aromatic flowers, olives and orange trees are cultivated in the town’s surroundings.
The town has preserved many vestiges from the past. People can discover numerous monuments dating from the Middle Ages both inside and outside the walls of Vence. Amidst others, the Roman columns, the three Medieval gateways (Porte Peyra, Porte du Signadour, Porte du Portail-Levis) and Villeneuve castle are worth visiting.
The Alpes Maritimes department has many wonderful landscapes on offer. It also has an abundance of lovely towns which are awaiting holiday makers. The majority of people thinks that there is only the French Riviera in this area, but Vence is a proof that there are also plenty of medieval towns full of history that can provide something else than beaches and the sea. Vence is charming and has many assets.
Property prices in Vence are pretty high, but of course more affordable than some towns located on the Mediterranean coastline such as Villefranche-sur-Mer or Monaco. In March 2009, the average price for an apartment to buy there was of €4,170 / square metre. House prices have decreased due to the financial crisis. Buying an apartment used to cost more than €4,400 / square metre in January 2008. The price for a new apartment to buy was from €3,790 to €5,000 / square metre by the end of 2008.
To get updated info about the property prices in Alpes Maritimes, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
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Vence is a wonderful medieval town which has a nice lifestyle. Its narrow streets and monuments from the past hide many secrets that are awaiting to be discovered. Why not discover the inland of the Aples Maritimes department?
Medieval heritage: as said previously, Vence has many vestiges from its rich past. The town had three gates - those of the Peyra (14th c.), the Signadour (13th c.) and of the Portail-Levis (13th c.) - protected by towers, drawbridges and barbicans. The columns of Marseille are relics of a Roman victory arch dating from the 3rd century. The tower (12th c.) that dominates the old town, the château Villeneuve (17th c.), the former bishop’s palace, the cathedral, the squares and the fountains are real treasures from the Middle Ages that have been preserved and belong now to the 2,000 years of history of Vence. The fountain of Peyra is listed as an historical monument. Do not miss neither the wonderful cathedral – cathédrale de la Nativité-de-Marie - which is also a great monument from the Roman times.
Art: Art has an essential place in Vence. Indeed, the town has always attracted many artists: painters, sculptors and writers from all over the world came to this place on which they were so keen. Vence is full of art galleries as well as sculptures and decorated buildings. Exhibitions are often held there. In summer when the weather is great, outdoor expositions attract many people. Famous painters lived and/or worked in Vence, including Matisse, Dufy, Soutine, Chagall and Dubuffet.
Good food: Vence has a great gastronomy on offer. Like in many towns of south-eastern France, plenty of dishes eaten in Vence contain olive oil, garlic and thyme for instance. It is a real delight for the taste buds!
Town market: the area has been a town market for ages. You will find plenty of stalls in the narrow rue du marché (‘Market’s street) in the old town. All kinds of produce can be found on this market: fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, fish, bakeries, flowers, etc. Strolling in this colourful market of thousand fragrances will transport you to the real Provence! Fairs are also held in the town, on the Place Clémenceau.
Apartments: Vence houses many apartments. Depending on your expectations, you will for sure find your dreaming property in this quiet area. Some apartments have modest dimensions but a very practical layout. Others have been renovated and are full of character. Located in the town centre or in the surroundings of the medieval city, these properties are perfect for those who are looking for a ‘pied-à-terre’ in an area rich in history where nature is wonderful and unspoiled.
Provencal villas: there are many villas of provencal style in the area. These properties have walls painted or whitewashed in warm colours, a tiled roof and large dimensions. A private swimming-pool comes most of the time with these provencal villas, as well as a big piece of land. The garden is full of trees such as pine trees or fruits trees (lemon, orange trees, etc.).
Bastide houses: these properties have a square or rectangular shape. The roof is constructed of tiles and is almost flat. Walls made up of stone and sometimes covered with stucco or whitewashed. Bastide houses have balconies from which we can enjoy a panoramic view over the area. Another feature of these detached stone-built properties is that they have a really practical layout.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.
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