History and description

A town of medieval origin, Saint-Paul-de-Vence had its first fortifications built in 1117 in the form of a castrum, which became a fortified agglomeration under the Count of Provence Béranger V. It became a fortified town in 1388, when the Count of Nice became Savoyard. The two Savoy invasions of 1524 and 1536 drove Francis I to modernise the fortifications of Saint-Paul-de-Vence from 1537. There was a need to have a stronghold on the Var, on high ground and with a view of the river and sea. For the first seven years, the construction was limited to consolidation of the medieval walls. But it was not until 1544 that the bastions were added: they were equipped with straight orillons with surface casemates at their bases, equipped with a cannon emplacement. These bastions were situated on the north and south flanks, those most exposed to attacks. During 1590-1596, the site was occupied by those from Savoy supporting the catholic League against Henri IV. During this occupation, a brick parapet was installed.
Vauban visited the site in 1692. He proposed improvements which were not applied to the urban wall (exceeding the scope of its restoration), and the construction of a second fortress on the site of the village of Broc, situated to the north of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. However, it was not until 1704 that work got underway on the task of restoration.
In 1832, under the July Monarchy, the ramparts underwent a restoration completed to repair the damage caused by their abandonment under the first Empire and under the Restoration.

Current state

The town bought back all of its fortifications in 1872 (two years after they had been declassified) and has fully preserved them ever since.


43° 41' 50" N, 7° 7' 23" E

urban wall
Jean de Saint-Rémy, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, Antoine Niquet
Alpes Maritimes
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
  • ADGE (M.), CATARINA (D.), (et alii), La route des fortifications en Méditerranée, Paris, 2007.
  • Association Vauban, Vauban et ses successeurs dans les Alpes maritimes, Paris, 2004.
  • BORNECQUE (R.), Vauban et les Alpes, Saint-Léger-Vauban, 1995.
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