In the Alpes-Maritimes, just 20 kilometres from Nice and a stone's throw from Vence, Saint-Jeannet is an old village far from mass tourism.
Although perched on a hill, the village nestles at the foot of an immense cliff, called the Baou. Oriented south, Saint-Jeannet receives an abundance of sunlight. In summer, the Baou draws in the pleasant sea breezes all while acting as a barrier to the harsh northern winds in winter.
Even from afar, you can see the Baou, which resembles a crouching sphinx. In bygone days, that strange silhouette made the villagers of Saint-Paul-de-Vence say that the people of Saint-Jeannet were witches.
But the only spell that is cast today is the charm of Saint-Jeannet, which entrances and enchants the visitor.
Come see why the village has attracted so many artists over time, from Poussin to Jacques Prévert without forgetting Raoul Dufy and the composer Joseph Kosma.
The village of Saint-Jeannet
View of the Baou de la Gaude
The parish church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste
The altar of the church Saint-Jean-Baptiste
The washhouse built in 1876
Terrace of a town house
Leave your vehicle in one of the parking lots below each side of Saint-Jeannet to visit on foot this village laid out in the shape of a snail's shell.
Built of stone polished by the centuries, its houses are high and narrow and form superimposed rows. With the small sun-filled squares, the washhouse and the fountains from which flow a cool and pure water, it's an absolute delight to stroll along its peaceful and authentic little streets.
Religious buildings certainly aren't lacking. On the big square in the village centre, you can see the parish church of Saint John the Baptist, built in 1666 with a bell tower from 1670. Next to it is the Saint-Bernardin chapel (the former White Penitents' chapel) with a beautiful altarpiece from 1652. At the western end of the village stands the Chapel of Saint John the Baptiste, built in 1753. Light and airy with its apse and barrel vault ceiling, it hosts different cultural events, fêtes and exhibitions. Leaving the village, you will find the 15th century Notre Dame des Baous Chapel, in a little garden with fountain, and the 12th century Sainte-Petronille Chapel.
But the highlight of your visit will be the breathtaking views from the village. At one point, an arched passageway leads to a sort of belvedere from which you can admire the surrounding countryside all the way to the Mediterranean and the coast from Nice to Antibes.
Some of you may want to conquer the Baou. During the climb, and depending on which direction you take, you will pass hidden caves and the ruins of a very big and very old sheepfold. At the very top, 800 metres above sea level, you will find an orientation table and then the amazing panoramic views that stretch from the alpine summits of the Mercantour all the way to the Estérel Massif. And on a clear day you can see the outline of Corsica!
The Baou is also a well-known rock-climbing site with a club from which you can get more information.
In the past, grapevines covered the terraced land, before making room for flowers and orange trees to supply the perfume industry in Grasse. Today, the land below the village is occupied by housing estates but one wine-maker is carrying on the tradition and produces quality wines. When driving up to the village take to the right the Route des Sausses to the Domaine des Hautes Collines, recognizable by the huge flasks full of rosé. You will be able to taste there an exceptional white wine and truly extraordinary reds.
In the area around Saint-Jeannet:
Vence, city of art and history
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, magnificent and mythical, medieval village
Point Info Tourisme de Saint-Jeannet - 54, rue du Château - 06640 Saint-Jeannet
+33 (0)4 93 24 73 83http://www.saintjeannet.com