The French Riviera has so much to offer, it’s often difficult to choose between the joys of market shopping, sunbathing with a glass of wine, sightseeing, water sports, wine tasting, long alfresco meals…and the list goes on! It would, however, be a shame to leave the Côte d’Azur without seeing the cultural side of the region represented best by viewing the exceptional works of some of the world-famous artists who were inspired by these surroundings.
The galleries and museums dedicated to the work of big names such as Matisse, Chagall, Léger, Renoir and Picasso are dotted around the hills of Nice, Antibes, St Paul de Vence, Cagnes Sur Mer and Biot. We have designed a comprehensive tour that will optimise your time and enable you to view the work of the masters in the ambience light and scenery that inspired them.
St Paul de Vence
A magical meeting place and playground for XXth century artists, this beautiful medieval village is both picturesque and full of stories. Understandably, it remains a firm favourite with contemporary artists, and attracts visitors from around the world.
A must see for any art-lover. Wander cobblestone streets in the footsteps of world-renowned artists to discover the bijoux art galleries, workshops and historic monuments that fill this little medieval town. Before leaving, enjoy a coffee in the shade of the beautiful plane trees overlooking the main square. Here locals play pétanque as Picasso & Matisse used to do only a few decades ago.
The Fondation Maeght
Just a short drive from St Paul de Vence is one of the largest private collections of modern art in Europe. Located in an exceptional property where even the villa itself and surrounding gardens have been designed and modelled as an integral part of the art collections by artists including Giacometti, Miro, Chagall and Braque.
The Matisse Chapel
Approximately a 10 minute drive from St Paul de Vence, this famous Chapel was designed inside and out by Matisse. A unique architectural and artistic creation with a fascinating story behind it. Particularly awe-inspiring when the Riviera sunshine strikes through the stained-glass windows.
The village of Biot is a cultural hub, full of local arts & crafts. It also has the National Museum dedicated to the work of Fernand Léger.
A few minutes from the heart of Biot village is a fascinating workshop where local glass-blowers can be seen hard at work creating the famous ‘bubble-glass’ of Biot. These accomplished craftsmen use authentic and traditional techniques incorporating a unique twist in order to produce their very distinctive glassware.
The XXth century artist Fernand Léger purchased ‘Mas Saint André’, a villa at the foot of the Riviera village of Biot. He had intended to use the property to develop his ceramic work, since Biot had been renowned for it’s high quality ceramics since 15th Century. Sadly, Léger passed away in 1955 just shortly after purchasing the villa. Fortunately for us his widow decided to perpetuate her husband’s memory by filling it with his art work and opening it to the public.
This hill to the North-East of Central Nice is steeped in history. Home to a large community of ancient Romans 2000 years ago it was later to become the winter home of Queen Victoria during the Belle Epoque Era. The Roman ruins can still be visited and today Queen Victoria’s Palace, ‘The Regina’, still stands proud and every bit as grand as it did in the late 19th century.
One was one of the most influential XXth century artists to have settled (and ended his days) on the French Riviera. The Chagall Museum in Cimiez was created before his death, and so enabled him to contribute to the project himself. The collection brings together his sculptures, paintings, etchings and stained-glass windows. Most of which were strongly inspired by the strength of his religious faith.
This museum is located in a stunning XVIIth century villa, surrounded by olive trees and overlooking the Roman ruins and the beautiful park of Cimiez,. A tranquil environment, where Matisse was buried and now rests in peace. The impressive collection includes: 236 drawings, 95 photographs, 57 sculptures, 218 engravings and 68 paintings. The are retraces his life’s work from his first canvases in 1890 to the brightly coloured ‘gouache’ paintings of his final years.
These are just a few of the artistic and cultural hotspots along the French Riviera. We are happy to talk about any other options you might suggest or want to know about. We want to ensure that we create the cultural day trip best suited to you.