I’ve been dreaming of the South of France for as long as I can remember. Whenever I would picture it, I’d think of a charming country village so perfect and reminiscent of fairytales it hardly seemed real. But in my mind it was, so it had to be.
There was a maze of cobblestoned alleyways that I would skip down with a basket brimming with fresh market produce and a baguette (always a baguette) in tow. I’d wear a straw hat and a sundress and weave my way through the maze while smiling and saying bonjour to all I would meet…
The ancient buildings would be crumbling in that quaint fashion that shows that they’ve stood the test of time and came a long, long time before anything modern. The village’s church bells would sing a bright, cheerful song every day at noon and the artists, painters and writers would stop work to venture out to the local boulangerie for the most amazing croissant or two. The gardens would be overgrown, full of wildflowers, sweet lavender and numerous citrus trees and the village would be the prettiest, most peaceful place on earth.
The romanticized visions of our childhoods are so sweet to look back on and remember the vivid stories of our imaginations and the passionate way in which we believed such imaginations could really exist. As a young child, I had this daydream more times than I could count, but as I grew older, I began to wonder whether a place so idyllic could really still exist. And then as I grew older still, I realised that it was unlikely too, and so there it remained, forever in my daydreams as my favourite dream of all.
On the afternoon that my sister Lauren and I drove the winding, narrow roads through the Nice Hinterland and arrived at the foothills of Saint Jeannet, the images conjured during my childhood rushed back to me and, there, at 26 years of age, I finally learnt that the place of my dreams really could, and did, exist. I might not have known it at the time, but it turns out I’d been dreaming of Saint Jeannet all along.
Our five days in Saint Jeannet, enjoying a slower pace in life, exploring the village, frequenting the markets and boulangeries, breathing the fresh mountain air and gazing awe-struck at the panoramic views, were among some of my favourite from our time in Europe. The village itself sits high atop an immense cliff edge and overlooks the entire Cote d’Azur and Alpes-Maritime province. Much of the village was built in the Middle Ages, with the stone homes being built around the grand old church of St Jean-Baptiste and to this day the village is still dominated by a fortified castle and the ruins of a keep.
Through the maze of alleyways, past the plethora of water fountains, the village opens up into a large square where the church and bell tower sit. Further on, tucked beneath a roof and fortified by medieval balustrades, is the terrace that offers breathtaking panoramic views from the countryside to the sea in the distance. It truly is a sight to behold and one where our morning venture to the markets to buy baguettes would always inevitably end.
Here is a collection of my favourite photographs and memories from our time in Saint Jeannet…
Obviously, I can’t encourage you enough to visit and see for yourself the beauty and magic of Saint Jeannet. If you ever find yourself in the South of France, the village of Saint Jeannet is a 40 minute drive from the Nice Airport, so it is a perfect spot to base yourself for your Riviera adventures and provides a unique and peaceful alternative to staying in the hustle and bustle of Nice.
Thank you so much for reading! XO