Where to travel for your first holiday after lockdown? That was the question for many of us and the choice for me was evident, La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, in the South of France.
Since I was a child, I’ve had many family dinners here in the summer and around Christmas. So I’m all the more pleased that nothing has changed.
Francois Roux, the owner does not care much for promoting and renewing this unique place. His true love and passion is dedicated to art and la cuisine Provençale.
Like a magnet he has the ability to host many artists and art orientated guests at La Colombe d’Or. You will not see bloggers and new money around, for that this place is far too special and too small.
Even during the Cannes Festival du Film you will find a close circle of guests and it seems that they all come from an artistic background.
The history of this place is known through their guestlist, that has names like Henri Matisse and Picasso, Signac Fernand Léger the poet Jacques Prévert, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to name a few. They came not only to eat in the magnificent, shady courtyard, but also to hang out, spend time and stay.
Later Tony Curtis, Yves Montand , Brigitte Bardot and Roger Moore, Cristo and Julian Schnabel made this place famous, but the Paparazzi never made it to the intimate bar with open window frames and view to the lush gardens.
The scent is filled with jasmine and lavender that adds to a unique atmosphere that is enriched with art throughout the hotel, pool and restaurant. For example, a sculpture by Alexander Calder right next to the pool, a mosaic by Fernand Léger in the courtyard garden and many paintings by Piccabia Miro, Chagal and Picasso.
There are many stories about the art at the Colombe d’Or, which had been once stolen but returned back, If you talk to Francois Roux about his art collection, you get a story that leaves nothing open. I then wonder why there has been no robbery in La Colombe to this day. The only security they have is the iron bars along the windows facing the main street.
But probably the entire police of Saint-Paul-de-Vence are watching la Colombe d’Or without their guest noticing.
When we arrive on a sunny July afternoon the pool is very crowded. I usually would mind and go to the beach instead, but the relaxed, effortless atmosphere with most guests reading a book, does not bother. You just find your matelas and read a book. Spending time in this place lets you go with the flow. At seven o`clock the first guests will take their aperitive at the famous bar where they serve you olives and fresh chacuterie to your drink. Dinner is in the courtyard, and I am in love with their hand drawn menue, which looks like the layout and design had been done by Braque. Also, the menu has not changed from my childhood on. We still order the Hors d’oeuvre for a starter and I love the poussin (small chicken or Côte de Boeuf as a main course.
Desert has to be Le Vacheron, a gateau fait a la maison with rasberries merengue and cream.
I never change my order and I always go for a walk in the village after dinner to sleep well and wake up early to be the first and the only one in the pool for a morning swim , just before breakfast, which is plane baguette with butter any maybe a boiled egg.
I am grateful for this place and I hope it will never change. I would be sad to miss the colorful ceramic art, Francois Roux’s smile when he talks to his guests and of course the effortless way you are surrounded by art and not the trying hart art scene manner where everything needs an explanation for being. Here simple everything is like it is, and we like it this way.