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 there, while Cocteau, Léger and Bonnard (among many others) all left their marks on the province - not to mention Renoir, who spent the final years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer. We travel along the enchanting coastal roads on a pilgrimage through modern art, touring museums that are dedicated to the 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 on this tour that is bound to bewitch all lovers of France and modern art.
- Be invited into a local pottery workshop, where we can learn about the techniques that influenced Picasso
- Admire collections at some fantastic museums where the life and works of renowned artists are celebrated
- Revel in the beauty, atmosphere and luxury of the magnificent French Riviera
- Experience culture in a different way with a private piano recital
- Pay visits to spectacular seaside villas on our journey around the coast
- Cultural Excursion
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- 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.
Our flight departs London and arrives in Nice. We transfer to our hotel, where we will be based for the entire tour, with terraces overlooking the Mediterranean. We enjoy a welcome talk and discover more about this wonderful part of France.
This morning, we depart for a grand tour of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which was opening in 1990 and is home to a significant collection of priceless
works, including paintings by Warhol and Deschamps. In the afternoon, we take a tour of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a seaside gem that houses a collection of porcelain and sculpture. In the evening, we have dinner at a local restaurant.
Today, we drive west along the coast to the ancient city of Antibes. Upon arrival, we visit the nearby Picasso Museum, the first museum in the world to pay homage to the master of modern art. Here, in a castle built on the ruins of a Greek temple, Picasso created many of his celebrated paintings, drawings and ceramics. We continue to Vallauris, where we have lunch, and then we enjoy a private visit to a local pottery workshop for a chance to see the regional techniques thatinfluenced the artistic icon. There will be more time to explore the National Picasso Museum in the afternoon before dinner this evening back in Nice.
We find ourselves at Fondation Maeght this morning - otherwise known as the Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation. This is a unique architectural complex that contains sculptures by the likes of Hepworth and Giacometti. Our next stop is Vence, where we take a break for lunch before visiting the Rosary Chapel, which was designed by Henri Matisse. We then enjoy a private piano recital.
To the picturesque town of Menton this morning, for a tour of the Musée Jean Cocteau. Famed for his writing and filmmaking, he was also a graphic artist and some of his work can be seen here. Next, we visit the stunning Villa Kérylos and then it’s on to the 14th century Chapelle Saint Pierre, which was lavishly redecorated with surreal and mystical scenes by Cocteau in the 1950s. Return to Nice for dinner.
This morning, we visit to the Chagall Museum, which was purpose-built to house the artist’s remarkable Biblical works. Afterwards, we spend time at the Matisse Museum in Nice. This is home to one of the largest collections of his work, including rare illustrated books and the artist’s own collection of stained glass and tapestries. After lunch by the sea, we have an afternoon at leisure and then meet for dinner.
Our final day awaits and we make the most of it with a visit to the Fernand Léger Museum, the Bonnard Museum and finally the fantastic Musée Renoir. Later, we catch our flight 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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