Picasso and Modern Art on the French Riviera
Glorious light reflected from the glittering Mediterranean inspired a whole movement of 20th century artists, who made studios of sun-kissed villas slumbering in idyllic corners of the French Riviera.
This was the playground of Picasso, who discovered ceramics in Vallauris and Matisse, who designed The Rosary Chapel in Vence, for the Dominican sisters.
Chagall’s paintings coincided with the time he spent here, whilst Cocteau, Léger and Bonnard (amongst many others) all left their mark on the province. Not to mention Renoir, who spent the last years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer.
We wend our way along the enchanting coast roads on a pilgrimage to modern art, touring museums dedicated to giants of the scene, as well as the buildings they designed and decorated.
Dazzling seaside villas reveal themselves as havens for masterpieces and objets d’art in this tour that will bewitch all lovers of France and modern art.
- Cultural Excursion
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
Our flight arrives in Nice this afternoon, and we transfer to our beautiful base for the next six nights: a luxurious hotel, with terraces overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
We settle in with a relaxing stroll around the city’s old town streets, before enjoying a private reception as a group. A laid-back introduction to the trip.
Primed this morning with a brief and brilliant lecture on modern art, we depart for a grand tour of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, just a few minutes’ walk from Place Garibaldi. Opened in 1990, this must-see attraction boasts a significant collection of priceless pieces, including works by Warhol, Deschamps and Lichtenstein.
After lunch, we continue on to The Chagall Museum, a national institution purpose-built to house Chagall’s remarkable Biblical artworks. A riot of colour and spirituality painted by the artist for the French state in the 1960s.
After finishing a delicious breakfast, we drive west along the coast to the ancient city of Antibes. We are here to make our pilgrimage to The Picasso Museum, the first museum in the world to pay homage to the master of the Cubist movement. Here, in a castle built on the ruins of a Greek temple, Picasso created many of his celebrated paintings, drawings and ceramics, such as his 1946 creation La Joie de Vivre. Around 250 of his works are now housed on site.
After lunch in coastal Vallauris, we make our way to the nearby National Picasso Museum, a Renaissance gem enlivened by Picasso’s vibrant painted interiors – an expression of spiritual art designed by Picasso as a “Temple of Peace”.
Later this afternoon we enjoy a private visit to a local pottery workshop, for a chance to see first-hand the regional techniques that so influenced Picasso’s own ceramics.
This morning we find ourselves at the Fondation Maeght – otherwise known as the Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation. This unique and superbly-located architectural complex was established in the 1960s in order to present contemporary art in all its forms. Among the foundation’s many highlights is Miró’s spectacular garden labyrinth, as well as breath-taking sculptures by Hepworth and Giacometti.
Our next stop is the Rosary Chapel in Vence, also known as La Chapelle Matisse – a sublime Catholic church designed by Henri Matisse for the Dominican sisters. While here we also enjoy the opportunity to view a collection of Matisse’s engravings, models, photographs and texts, as well as the striking robes he designed for the chapel’s priests.
We spend our afternoon at the Matisse Museum in Nice, a 17th-century palace that contains one of the world’s largest collections of Matisse’s work, including rare examples of illustrated books, as well as the artist’s own collections of stained glass, ceramics and tapestries.
To the picturesque town of Menton we go, just a hop along the coast. We start at the Musée Jean Cocteau, a private collection amassed by American businessman and Cocteau fan, Sevérin Wunderman. Cocteau was famed not only for his writing and film-making, but also his prolific graphic art, much of which now hangs in this museum.
We proceed to the 14-th century Chapelle Saint Pierre, a gorgeous church lavishly redecorated with surreal and mystical scenes by Cocteau in the 1950s. It now makes for a popular wedding venue for local couples!
We take lunch in the charming town of Villefranche-Sur-Mer before returning to Nice for a free afternoon of exploration – or, indeed, relaxation – on the coast.
Our day comes to a delightful end with a private recital, followed by dinner with the group.
We continue our celebration of modernism this morning by way of a visit to the Musée National Fernand Léger. Within these wondrous galleries, and behind the mosaic exteriors, we discover a unique collection of Léger’s Cubist, pre-Pop artwork. A destination set to stun.
Later we stop at the Musée Bonnard, the first museum in the world dedicated to Pierre Bonnard’s dreamy, post-impressionistic creations. It was also Bonnard’s own home for some 20 years.
The rest of the day is ours to take in the sights of Nice as we wish, before the group reconvenes for a sumptuous last supper.
As our final day begins, we waste no time in heading for the rose-tinted Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a seaside gem nestling in-between Monaco and Nice. Here we discover a fine collection of porcelain, sculptures and objets d’art, not to mention remnants of the old masters displayed here and there...
Our next stop is the stunning Villa Kérylos in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, a homage to Ancient Greece, jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. Explore classically-styled interiors, faithful copies of Greek furniture, and magnificent bas-reliefs, all created in the early 1900s.
After lunch we visit Musée Rénoir, the artist’s house at Cannes-Sur-Mer, in which the brushes and paints of his studio lie just as he left them. An intimate encounter with one of the world’s greatest impressionists.
Inspired, and brimming with admiration, we transfer to the airport and reluctantly make our way home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
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