La Colombe d'Or in Saint Paul De Vence : an iconic hotel in Provence

by Posted On

In 1982 my husband and I went on our first trip to Provence together.  My favorite hotel I had ever seen was the
“Hotel  de La Colombe d’Or.”

(I almost fainted!!!)

It is  perched at the top of the most beautiful  mountain  village of St. Paul de Vence.

Here are some pictures we took at that time.

It is such a unique and unusual place;  and it is still, 31 years later, is virtually unchanged.

Actually, it is almost unchanged from the 1920’s.

It exemplifies all of the things we love about Provence.

In two words, simple elegance.

The village is of native stone, built over centuries.

saint paul

(Adam in the pool on the left!)

 The simple chaises could not be improved upon(in my opinion).  The light wood and canvas covers blend beautifully with the ancient stone walls.

The umbrellas and chairs and tables of the cafe are simple and elegant.

Nothing “sticking out” and calling attention to itself!

This is now an “endangered species” !!

“Understated elegance” An endangered species!

(Horrific plastic outside “wicker” furniture;  orange umbrellas, hideous overdone wrought iron or aluminum furniture!!!)


I will stop my rant……and resume pictures of what I LOVE!!

and interesting to me…….I always have!

31 years is a long time!!

saint paul

The terra cotta pots and olive jars are made from the local soil.

Natural linen cloths and napkins are undyed!  The tablecloth and napkins are natural linen.

We both felt completely relaxed and at one with the environment.

We are not unusual.  That is why, I believe major artists congregated here!  MAJOR ARTISTS!!!

saint paul 1


  I actually saw doves flying in and out of the dovecote on the top of the next door building.

These lights are ingenious!   They were made out of olive oil strainers.   (these dark brown wicker ones!)

The oil was poured through these to “filter out” pieces of olives, to fill up the olive jars with the “filtered olive oil”.

saint paul 3

Here I am!  31 years ago!
 saint paul 6
Here he is!  31 years ago!  (the handsome devil)!!
So so happy to be discovering this place that felt so familiar…..that we wanted to
reproduce in some way!  Authentically!
(I asked all these questions about pigments……stucco,;  lime wash)…..etc. etc.!
saint paul 2
This one did not have its bulb attached; but most did.
saint paul 5
My very favorite light fixture for down lights in trees……..I saw here!  Here it is!  (by the way…..there were no “digital” cameras.)
No faxes, no email.  I just found these pictures!
Thank God for “scanning” and all the rest of it!
I really loved these gourd lights hanging from the trees. So beautiful at night! Such a “natural” look for hanging
light fixtures….they are camouflaged  into the tree!
these remain my favorite “down lights” in trees!  EVER!!
saint paul 4
Here I am in 1982!!
I thought I could have some made!

Well, I never did;   but when the new owner of the San Ysidro Ranch took his architect, Marc
Appleton to the Columbe d’Or for lunch and showed him the terrace, Marc
found someone in Santa Barbara to make them!
Now I order them for my clients!
(and any of you who want them)!
 These are the most beautifully camouflaged  down-lights to hang
in trees I have ever seen!
How amazing are these??
(because of the perspective……this looks like it is HUGE!!)
It is 12 inches high…..(at most)!  It is so lovely…..and when it is hanging in a tree… looks like part of the tree!
I love the close-up of the “patina”!!
they look….just like the ones I photographed 31 years ago!
 They are now hanging from the trees at my favorite restaurant……and from trees of my clients!
and at our house!
 I meant this  post to be
A lovely story of a timeless place!
This is the trip that inspired us to build a house in the “Provencal” style;  because the stone, the climate, and the terrain
in Montecito reminds us of Provence; and our first trip there!
We came to Montecito first , together, on our honeymoon!  Yikes!  1978!
We decided we wanted to live here!  It took 20 years……but we got here 16 years ago with a “vacant lot”!!
This was our inspiration!   This town, this terrace, and this  Inn and Cafe!!!  We went back!  This was the “beginning”!
Isn’t life fascinating???
Here is a good article to read about the history of La Colombe d’Or!!  It is a fascinating place!
I hope this will inspire you !

16 thoughts on “La Colombe d'Or in Saint Paul De Vence : an iconic hotel in Provence

  1. tara dillard

    From these few pics it’s easy to see you’ve carried the setting in your design DNA.

    Off topic. Your husband. The pic plastered me back in my chair. He looks exactly like a dear friend, killed by a drunk driver during college.

    Someone still spoken of today by those who knew him.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Fascinating! I love the expression “design DNA”!!! LOVE!!! And, of course, I love it because it is true!!!
      What was his name?

      Tragic! We have to get you out here to “talk”!


  2. Lucille

    Hi Penelope! Your husband is indeed a handsome man. He reminds me of the actor, Ted Shackelford, who played in Knots Landing. I have recently discovered you in the French Country Style magazine and I cannot get enough of looking at your lovely decor. I was wondering if you could share with me what sort of paint you used on the lower cabinetry in your kitchen and what colour or approximate, if it’s a blend. Also, did you use the same blue on the upper cupboards as you did on that gorgeous island? Thank you in advance for any information which you can give me.

  3. Gilda Hariri

    my favorite post!
    beautiful pictures!
    My goodness look at you! I love seeing old pictures of you!
    thank you for taking us there and back!


  4. Penelope Bianchi

    Hi Lucille!

    I use only “Farrow and Ball” paint! (do not believe the paint store when they say they can “match” their paint with American paint!

    There are not enough pigments!

    The trim on the upper cabinets, and trim in our whole house is
    Parma gray #27; the island came from Chalon in England; but a close match is “Dix Blue #82.

    One set of lower cabinets is Dorset Cream #68 and the other is Radicchio #96.

    Thank you! I think my husband looks like Rod Stewart!

  5. P Gaye Tapp



    I do not know what I like more the olive oil strainers or the gourd lights!

    Then there is your beautiful photo and hubby too!I agree with YOU ,he looks like ROD STEWART!

    How fun for you to see “your” lights about town!

    DREAMS do come true………….You are a testament to that!BRAVO!


    1. Penelope Bianchi

      To La Contessa;

      How wonderful that I met you through blogdom; after being a “fan” of your very own “Auntie Mame” here in Santa Barbara!!!

  7. Tracey

    You are too gorgeous.
    He is too handsome.
    The hotel too divine.
    The house you ended up in perfect.
    All meant to be………

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      and you, Tracey, are another gift!!!

  8. The Devoted Classicist

    Penelope, I have a new client who has a second home in this town. So I have heard nothing but the most wonderful things about it. What fun to see your connection! Best wishes
    __ John T

  9. Marsha @ Splenderosa

    Penelope, I left a long long long comment on this post and it’s completely disappeared. Sending you an email in a bit about this place.
    Love you.

  10. Lucille

    Thank you so much, Penelope for the information. As for your handsome husband, yes, now that you mention it, he does bring to mind Rod Stewart. However, on that particular photo, he reminds me of Ted Shackelford although your husband is better looking.

  11. Penelope Bianchi

    How Beautiful you are here

    We meet 3 years after this photo was taken

    and You are still very Wonderful, Beautiful

    I was Transfixed by your Serene but intense presence of Graceful Being

    a fresh breath of air, that one gasps for more

    full of Curiosity and Wonder, Graceful, Kind, ever sooo Compassionate and very Creative

    you hold Beauty close to your Heart as a Believer would cling to the Crucifix

    You are true Gift to us All, who had a chance to meet you even once on this plane
    and specially to the ones who got to know you even a little bit
    a tattoo pulsing with joy and warmth on our hearts which we happily wear
    that says “Penny was here”

    Have a wonderful day Dear Penny
    Love you

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      THIS IS THE MOST beautiful compliment I have received in my life! this is from the artist I have done two posts on ! Radisha!

      Thank you!!

      (life gets no better; really! Than this! )

      thank you from the bottom of my heart!


  12. Bettina

    Here again Penelope, after all this time, finding this wonderful post (and lots of others I still have to read). You were WONDERFUL!!!! WOW!!!!!! The fourth of the Charlie’s Angels!!! And your husband too, looks like an actor… what a great couple, and still you are. My best wishes for all the best, to you and your family, Bettina, Italia.

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