My favorite room
Bill Wyman

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 43, Summer 2015

Page 14

My favorite room
Bill Wyman

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 43, Summer 2015

Page 14

My favorite room
Bill Wyman

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 43, Summer 2015

Page 14

For Bill Wyman, La Colombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence is a place of memorable encounters – not least with the art on its walls

I was introduced to La Colombe d'Or by my landlord when I first went to St Paul de Vence in 1974. I have a house there and have known the Roux family, who own the hotel, for 40 years. We love the place so much that my wife Suzanne and I chose to get married in the Mairie in 1993, followed by a blessing in the church and a reception in the restaurant, which the Roux family opened just for us. It is a great space with a courtyard filled with beautiful olive and fig trees and a wonderful mosaic by Léger.

Over the years I have met the most interesting people there such as Richard Attenborough. When my children, who were little, first saw him, they said: "Oh, look! There's Santa Claus." So, of course, he sat them on his lap. Many of my artist friends lived near here as well, including César Baldaccini and André Verdet.

I always take the train down there in the summer for three or four weeks – I find flying too stressful now I am getting older – and I think I'm seen as a bit of a fixture. Not long ago the Mayor made me an honorary St Pauline. I was given a big bronze medal, which qualifies me for a free cup of coffee, I think.

The restaurant itself is enough of an inducement to make the journey. It is fantastic inside. The wooden ceiling is painted and decorated and they have the most wonderful Miró – I would love to own that. The art collection is the result of many famous artists, such as Picasso, asking for free meals in their younger days. They would say to the Roux family: "Feed me for a week and I'll give you a painting." That turned out to be a good bargain.

The food is not expensive and we always drink the house wine. The most important thing is the atmosphere, it's like being in your living room. You are never afraid to introduce yourself to people you admire. Over the years I have ended up playing boules with members of Pink Floyd, Vitas Gerulaitis, Bjorn Borg and Elton John. I remember being in the bar and chatting to James Baldwin. He liked whisky and his sentences got slower and slower until he toppled sideways and crashed onto the stone floor. James told me he had always wanted to be a singer.

I had a photography exhibition at La Colombe d'Or in 2010, documenting the life and times in Vence. I take a lot of pictures here, especially when a wonderful bronze, rusty-coloured light appears at around 5pm. I don't take myself too seriously. When I first met Marc Chagall, who was a neighbor, I was in awe of him. But he treated me like an equal. He said: "We are artists." I found that difficult to accept.

Bill Wyman's solo album Back to Basics is released in June on Proper Records. His car collection will be auctioned at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on 26 June.

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