On the Artist Trail in Provence & the Riviera

The South of France conjures up images of beautiful beaches, stunning craggy mountains, impossibly perched Provence villages and just maybe, your favourite piece of art. Many artists in the past have moved to the lower reaches of France to paint these stunning sceneries, fallen in love and decided to stay. Following the success of the 2013 BBC show The Riviera: A History in Pictures, Painting Paradise, we will take a look at some of the painters in whose footsteps you can follow from your holiday villa in Provence.

One of the first painters to make the region glamorous was Pierre Auguste Renoir, who the show describes as the ‘Daddy’ of them all. Renoir settled in Cagnes sur Mer, a small town located halfway between Nice and Antibes, and just a short drive away from many of our villas. Visitors are invited to view the house where Renoir finally settled in his older years, and admire the wonderful views that doubtless inspired his portfolio of artwork. The show followed the arrival of Monet, Cezanne and Renoir to this previously unknown (to the masses) area of the country and explains how the artistic crowd showed the beauty that the area had to offer, to both painters and tourists alike.

Whilst these three were the pioneers for art in the region, the attraction did not stop after they had passed away. Henri Matisse famously lived in Nice, where there is now a museum dedicated to his work in the beautiful area of Cimiez. Nice is a fascinating day trip from our villas and at around a 45 minute to one hour car journey away, it is certainly a very simple trip to do before returning to the tranquillity of your private villa in Provence. The area of Cimiez is regularly overlooked for the more famous Promenade des Anglais or port regions of the city, but is home to both the Matisse and Marc Chagall museums, in addition to ancient Roman ruins. For his part, Marc Chagall lived in Saint Paul de Vence for many years, which is another village full of wonderful art museums and galleries.

Another painter who made his way to the South of France was Picasso. Picasso painted nearly the entire region, from Aix-en-Provence to areas much closer to our villas, including Mougins. Several examples of his work can be found in museums and towns close to our villas. In his later years, Picasso was often seen creating ceramic works in the village of Vallauris, which is located inland from Cannes, and his work l’Homme au Mouton, a man holding a sheep, can be found in the centre of the town. Some believe that his change of direction into creating ceramics was to allow everybody to own an original Picasso, something that his expensive paintings did not provide! The village is around a 35 minute drive from many of our villas in villages such as Montauroux, and a trip there could coincide with a visit to the coastal towns.

If you are interested in discovering more about the South of France and its many art museums, please do not hesitate to ask us for more information before your stay. As was concluded in the TV program, the area is a true natural beauty and it is little wonder that it has become such an enticing destination for artist and holidaymaker alike.

December 2014