10 artistic favourites on the Côte d’Azur

Picasso, Bonnard, Matisse, Chagall and Renoir... the Côte d’Azur inspired a great many artists. All succumbed to the beauty of its landscapes, the mildness of its climate and the light bathing its coast and hinterland, its seaside resorts and hilltop villages. No wonder, then, that the Côte d’Azur is home to so many museums and cultural spots bursting with works, always embracing the blue of the sky and the Mediterranean.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence: Fondation Maeght

Modern and contemporary art couldn’t find a more beautiful setting than this architectural ensemble, conceived by Josef Lluis Sert on the heights of the Côte d’Azur for Aimé and Marguerite Maeght and their friends Giacometti, Miro, Calder and Chagall. With garden sculptures, an agora, a labyrinth, mosaics and a fountain, plus exhibition rooms opening onto patios and terraces and the song of cicadas: here, time stands still.
Fondation Maeght (External link)

Porquerolles: Fondation Carmignac

An experience: this is what it’s like to visit the Fondation Carmignac, hidden in the basement of a Provençal farmhouse on the island of Porquerolles. First you must take a boat, then cross undergrowth, vineyards and olive groves before you can explore – barefoot! – the unusual collection of Edouard Carmignac, in which Botticelli and Andy Warhol rub shoulders. Two sculpture gardens, including a glass labyrinth, complete this inimitable place.
Fondation Carmignac (External link)

Nice: The MAMAC

Visitors flock here for the interesting collection of modern and contemporary art but also for the large terraces with views, like lookouts on the city. On one of them, go with Yves Klein and his wall of fire. On the forecourt, it’s the monumental sculptures of Alexandre Calder and Niki de Saint-Phalle that will stop you in your tracks.
MAMAC (External link)

Vallauris: The Picasso National Museum

Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Vallauris, Cannes, Mougins... Picasso loved the French Riviera and stayed there for almost 30 years, leaving behind many traces. In the chateau at Vallauris (which also houses the Museum of Ceramics), the Pablo Picasso Museum presents with two grandiose frescoes: “War and Peace” and “The Four Parts of the World”, the exceptional space of the Romanesque chapel. It’s a sacred and universal anchorage for the last great political work of the artist.
Pablo Picasso Museum (External link)

Cannet: Bonnard Museum

In Le Cannet near Cannes, in a Belle-Époque villa reminiscent of the one where Pierre Bonnard settled in the 1920s with his wife and muse, the world’s first museum entirely dedicated to the work of the great painter opened in 2011. The paintings on display demonstrate the inspiration Bonnard took from the landscapes and beautiful light of the Côte d’Azur.
Bonnard Museum (External link)

Nice: Marc Chagall National Museum

With over 800 paintings, gouaches, drawings, watercolours and pastels, the permanent collection at the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice is the largest public collection of works by the artist in the world. It covers over 900 square metres, with an impressive auditorium famous for its three large windows evoking the Creation of the World.
Marc Chagall National Museum (External link)

Biot: Fernand Léger National Museum

A large Mediterranean garden and monumental coloured mosaics on the façade… The National Fernand Léger Museum, at the foot of the village of Biot, makes use of both the exterior and interior to show off the work of the painter, a major figure in 20th-century art. Over 450 works from 1905 to 1955 are exhibited. It’s unique in the world.
National Fernand Léger Museum (External link)

Roquebrune-Cap Martin: Villa Eileen Gray

Imagine a promontory stretching out to the Mediterranean, a picturesque village overlooking it and dream villas scattered between garrigue and pine forests with breathtaking views of the great blue... The Côte d’Azur in all its splendour is incarnated in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. It’s particularly worth a visit for Le Corbusier’s Cabanon or the Villa E-1027 by Eileen Gray, an icon of modern architecture built in 1927 and very avant-garde.
Villa E-1027 by Eileen Gray (External link)

Vence: Matisse’s Chapel of the Rosary

Matisse had a long-standing love affair with the Côte d’Azur and left his mark in many places, notably on the heights of Nice (in the museum dedicated to him) but also and especially in Vence, where his Chapel of the Rosary and personal home Villa La Rêve were built. Take a walk in the villa’s beautiful gardens; the view of the hills overlooking Vence is sublime.
Matisse Chapel (External link)

In Cagnes-sur-Mer: Renoir Museum

Pierre-Auguste Renoir spent the last years of his life in the field of Collettes, among century-old olive trees. Transformed into a museum, the house whose windows open to a superb view towards Cap d’Antibes offers a moving testimony to the familiar and creative world of this Impressionist master.
Renoir Museum (External link)

Côte d'Azur