Cote d’Azur for Art Lovers
The beautiful and sunny French Riviera, once home to the world’s greatest modern artists, such as Picasso, Matisse, Léger, Braque, Chagall and many others, offers unmatchable holiday experience to everyone, including extravagant millionaires, art lovers and art investors.
A trip to the studios where the founding fathers of modern art worked and created their masterworks, visiting the museums and the buildings where they personally installed their works, is an unforgettable one. Cote d’Azur, situated right where the Mediterranean meets the Alps, attracted many notable and influential artists, with Cezanne being the first to arrive and then followed by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and many others, inspired by the blue waters, sunshine and scenic views of the sublime coastline.
Stay at the luxurious Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, or Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where you can also visit the Ephrussi de Rothschild Mansion, famous for its art collection and extraordinary gardens, and enjoy our recommended museums and art spots.
Nice: Musee Matisse
Nice is rich for museums featuring modern art. The Matisse Museum, with its amazing exterior design with the bright red walls and golden window detailing on the façade, offers a comprehensive look at Matisse’s art. Ranging from the infamous Fauvist paintings to sculptures, this museum is considered to be the most important one.
Musee National Marc Chagall
Another museum to visit in Nice is the Marc Chagall Museum. Its permanent collection is the biggest public collection of works by Marc Chagall and it preserves his most important biblical works, which make up the Biblical Message — the 17 paintings which the painter produced on the Old Testament. The Museum was created by the artist’s own will and has two works specially designed by Chagall to fit into the architecture: the stained glass windows in the concert room and the mosaic above the pond.
St-Paul-de-Vence: Foundation Maeght
Established by a family of art dealers, the Foundation Maeght features a rich collection of modern and contemporary art works, among them those of Bonnards, Calders, and Legers, as well as sculptures by Giacometti and objects designed by Miró and Braque.
To extend the trip, you should see the Matisse Chapel or Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, near the top of the hillside town. It is a small, magnificent building with stained-glass windows, which the artist designed for Dominican sisters, the nuns who took care of Matisse after he got ill when spending a year in Nice.
Antibes: Musee Picasso
Picasso’s year long stay at Château Grimaldi, which later was converted into the National Picasso Museum, is known to have been very fruitful for the great artist who created over 60 works at that time. The magnificent castle standing along the coast of Antibes houses may works by Picasso of various periods: Blue (1901–1904) Rose (1904–1906) African (1907–1909) and Cubism (1910–1919), the most notable of which are “La Joie de vivre” and “The Goat”. The museum also showcases paintings by other modern artists, as well as remarkable sculptures by Germaine Richier, Joan Miró, Bernard Pagès among others.
To follow the trail of Picasso visit the castle of Vallauris, which inspired the great artist to build a “Temple of Peace” there with a monumental two-panel composition entitled “War and Peace”. The Picasso Museum housed in the 12th-century Romanesque chapel of the Vallauris castle, contains also a rich collection of Picasso’s ceramics, as it was here that the great painter discovered the art of ceramics and pottery, at the Madoura studio.
Cannet: Musee Bonnard
The Bonnard Museum on the French Riviera is the best art spot to see the works by Pierre Bonnard, a major artist of the 19th and twentieth centuries. It is situated in the very centre of the town of Cannet, which inspired the artist with its picturesque views and landscape for over two decades, known as the “cannettane” period.
Biot: Musee National Fernand Leger
The Museum of Fernand Leger, standing at the foot of the village Biot, in a Mediterranean park, is a must-visit place. Based on the donation by the artist’s wife, the collection offers the retrospective of the entire life of Fernand Leger, allowing everyone to discover the great artist from his vanguard influences to his major cubist colourful compositions of the fifties, his ongoing interest in architecture, society and cinema, as well as the influence of his stays in America. A pilgrimage to Biot will surely make for an exciting holidays experience.
St. Tropez: L’Annonciade – Musee de Saint-Tropez
The Museum of the Annonciade in St. Tropez is a small but very famous one. The sixteenth century waterfront chapel transformed into a museum of modern art attracts many art lovers. Saint-Tropez once was a popular place for “avant-garde” artist in the early XX century, among them Paul Signac, Andre Derain, Henri Matisse and many others. The Museum features a room for the so-called “Nabis” group, represented by Vuillard, Bonnard and Maurice Denis and a room for the Fauvist collection, which includes works by Derain and Matisse. The collection also contains works by George Braque and Picasso. Highlighting the sunny Riviera atmosphere, the colors and landscapes in the collection will surely impress and delight art lovers.
Haut-de-Cagnes: Musee Renoir
The Renoir Museum is the former artist’s home, where he worked and lived, and which was converted into a museum now open to the public for tours. Situated in the very heart of a gorgeous estate with centuries-old olive trees, it offers an unrivalled panorama all the way to Cap d’Antibes and the exceptional view on Haut-de-Cagnes. The Museum features 14 original paintings, sculptures, furniture and the artist’s studio, where he spent the last 12 years of his life.
Aix-en-Provence: Atelier Cezanne
The Paul Cezanne’s Studio in Aix-en-Provence is the studio, which was designed and built by the great artist himself in 1902. It is where Cezanne lived until his death and where he created many of his most famous paintings, including the still life works, preserved in the Atelier. This place also gives an opportunity to see the iconic view of the Mont St. Victoire, Cezanne’s favourite landscape.