La Colombe d’Or – a hotel you’ll never want to leave in Saint Paul de Vence, France

May 12, 2012

There is a small hotel in the South of France, in the arriere pays of Nice (the ‘back’ land), which you’d truly never want to leave. I’m normally quite restless when I travel. Always on the go, checking things out…Well, we’ve just spent 3 days for a family reunion at La Colombe d’Or and I could have stayed there forever.

The view from our bedroom with the golden dove aka La Colombe d’Or…

La Colombe d'Or, south of france hotel

A few months ago, I was asked to choose a place to celebrate the 60th birthday of my mother in-law (the whole family lives in Istanbul and flew in thru Nice international airport). I had stayed once with my husband at La Colombe d’Or, the year we got engaged. Back then, we were travelling casually on the Cote d’Azur, and thought we’d give a try  to this mythical hotel for a night. We had gotten a good deal by chance, last minute during the Cannes Film Festival. The place was filled with Hollywood producers, round bellies and big cigars. I thought I was in movie myself. La Colombe d’Or made a big impression on both of us.

Rooftop at La Colombe d'Or, Nice, South of France

Over the years, I kept on hearing here and there how it’s a favourite place of such and such person (celebrity or not). I thought to myself, it’s also my favourite place, but I never got a chance to go again.

This is Saint Paul de Vence, the medieval village where La Colombe d’Or is located, just a 20min drive from Nice international airport.

st paul de vence, south of france medevial town

So when I was asked the delicate task of organising the family reunion, I jumped on the chance to go back to La Colombe d’Or. Everyone (and absolutely everyone in the family from 2 to 72 years old) fell under the spell. Behind the walls of the hotel which opened in the 1920’s, it’s another world. Time has stopped in the 1950’s/60’s, you feel pampered by the spirit of a family-owned place, you eat like a king, and best of all, it’s a feast for the eyes.

   Colourful rooftop at La Colombe d'Or

The hotel is filled with art donated over the years to the owner Mr Roux, who entertained a special relationship with many of the artists. Fernand Leger, Picasso, Miro, Braque, Chagall, Calder…Read the story of the hotel here. It’s fascinating.

children at hotel in south of france, La Colombe d'Or   Details La Colombe d'Or, south of france, bozaround

You’d think so much art, so much history would make the place a difficult one with children. Not all all and it’s the beauty of it. Thanks to the family-spirit of La Colombe d’Or, which still belongs to the same owners as in the 1920’s, you feel as if hosted in someone’s home. Nothing feels too precious that you can’t touch it. It’s a place that’s lived, that’s seen it all hence making everyone comfortable. Parents having a lazy breakfast under the fig trees, with a basket of fresh croissants and baguette, while the children are wandering around, playing hide and seek behind the big statues.
 
apple statue at la colombe, hotel in south of france, bozaround    father and daughter, la colombe, hotel in south of france, bozaround   statue at la colomble, hotel in south of france, bozaround
 
BozAround tips
 
– The hotel is composed of the main house and an annex a short walk downhill. I’d recommend the main building for a family stay as you are right by the swimming pool (a dream pool, huge and heated all year long at 28 degres) and by the garden where meals are served. A family stays very comfortably in one of the 4 apartments as they’re extremely spacious and quite frankly good value for the beauty & quality of the place compared to many luxurious hotels. We stayed in #16. Loved it with the view from our bed onto Saint Paul de Vence and the Colombe d’Or statue. And it’s just one set of stairs from the dining room so there’s no need for a babysitter at night if the children prefer to stay in bed watching a DVD. The other 3 apartments look onto the pool and are calmer, albeit a tiny bit further away from where you have your meals. #36 is quite grand with its beautiful main bedroom. #37 is a duplex and has the advantage of a large private terrace…I think they’re all worth trying.
 
Inside apartment 36 at La Colombe d’Or:
 
Apartment 36 La Colombe d'Or, bozaround   Apartment 36 La Colombe d'Or, bozaround
– I was told some families come for an entire week and arrange a swimming instructor daily for the children. Tres chic.
 
– There are no DVD players (bring an iPad or laptop) in the rooms, which are more of the old-chool style, but with such taste and simplicity that it’s really not an issue.
 
It’s worth staying just one or two nights at La Colombe d’Or, and not moving anywhere apart for a short walk to the village or to the world-famous Fondation Maeght, a stunning private collection of art in an equally stunning modernist house and a garden filled with scented pine trees.
 
Fondation Maeght   Fondation Maeght, boy with painting, bozaround
 
– You don’t necessarily need a car rental if you come to relax and stay put in Saint Paul de Vence (a taxi from the airport is Eur60). However, for a pleasant day trip, head to nearby Antibes where the Picasso Museum in the old town is a real treat, easy on the whole family. And if you feel you really need to do something kid-centric, there’s always Marineland, one of Europe’s most famous aquatic park located in Antibes.
 
Antibes Musee Picasso
 
– Oh, and don’t get me started on the food. We had 3 meals at the restaurant of La Colombe d’Or (in addition to all our breakfasts) hence giving us a chance to try many dishes in the menu. Not one was a disappointment. Homey French cooking with the freshest mediterranean ingredients. De li cieux.
 
Street of Antibes, bozaround   plants in antibes   Streets of St Paul de Vence
 
For a family reunion, for a getaway with the children, for a romantic escape, for a glamorous week end, for a pause away from busy life, La Colombe d’Or fits everyone and every taste. That’s what makes it perfect. It’s not  pretentious, it’s not trying too hard. It’s just one of the most special little hotel in the world…

7 Comments

  1. Deborah

    It looks amazing Vanessa, just perfect, thanks for the address!

    Reply
  2. Michelle M

    Thank you for the post and your wonderful perspective that included the beautiful art. I felt like I was there with you-this is being added to my to-do list!

    Reply
  3. BozAround

    I’m glad I inspired you! And I forgot to say, it’s so easy to get to..even direct flights from NY to Nice!

    Reply
  4. Gaëlle VH

    Super ton post sur la Colombe d’or. Je n’y suis jamais allée mais la Fondation Maeght m’avait beaucoup touchée. Tu as très bien décrit cette impression de temps suspendu …tu déambules dans le jardin au milieu de toutes ces oeuvres , je me souviens encore d’un bassin avec une sculpture de giacometti en son centre que j’avais trouvée très poétique. C’était vraiment un moment de grâce. Merci de m’avoir remémoré cette expérience

    Reply
  5. Paula

    Visited this place years ago for lunch, it’s a gem! It rained, we hadn’t had a shower because our house (a building site) didn’t have any just then and therefore looked like something the cat dragged in plus we brought our wet old dog…. still, we were looked after like royalties. Impeccable service! Great place!

    Reply
    • BozAround

      Thanks so much for sharing that! I am not surprised, they do treat you like royalties and / or like family! enjoy your summer vanessa

      Reply
  6. Stean

    I have visited spots but this is where nature wispers of fresheness. Regards

    Reply

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