Art trail in the South of France


This travelling (volunteer) reporter would like to share the joy of the art journey which the South of France provided. I know it is not about Rye but I consider myself (yes, a foreigner) but by now a local at least. It was of course not just art that encouraged the journey, it was also the need for sun and to experience again the continental atmosphere, which is very different from England. It is a café society and whether Antibes or Nice, both the cities also have gems of museums, themselves beautiful buildings, cool inside and presenting the art at its best and in a large and wide space.

Antibes old town houses the Picasso museum in a Romanesque chapel. Picasso (1881-1973) came to Antibes in 1946 where he was given a studio on the seafront in the Grimaldi Palace where, after wartime Paris, his work became infused with Mediterranean light and joyful images. The Antibes collection is a taste of his versatility.

Something else interesting to mention is about the old town, which has lots of narrow streets, lined with all kinds of shops for tourists and locals. What was wonderful, was that all of them were shared spaces between vans delivering, electric scooters, bikes and lots of pedestrians. Many of them had no pavements and everyone was respectful to whoever needed the road.

Then with tram and bus to Biot, not far from Antibes, to visit the Fernand Leger museum. He is less well-known, it appears, but is an important contributor to the art world with some of the paintings trying to explain his feelings about the world. Leger (1881-1955) was a modernist who left his mark on the 20th century through the diversity of his work and his open-minded approach to a changing world. This collection includes paintings, sculptures, mosaics and ceramics and is claimed to be the only one of its kind in the world.

In between all the exploring there was of course the tempting beach and swimming in the Mediterranean, a glass of wine and lovely food. The last day was spent in Nice and had to include a visit to the Marc Chagall museum, which was difficult to find and a bit of a walk but well worth it. The museum sits in a garden created by a landscape designer Henri Fisch, in a harmony of blue, green and white. The national museum, created during the artist’s lifetime, houses the Biblical Message cycle. It bears witness to the great diversity of his artistic practice where technical, colourful inventions and a message of universal peace are combined. Unfortunately it was realised that the photos inside the museum were still protected by copy right.

One could not leave out the local talent. Invited to an art opening, the visitors were confronted with the artist’s passion, Jean Paul Belmondo (a French film star 1933-2021). Very interesting people and paintings which certainly looked like the person intended. The main art piece is made out of letters. Another local painting was street art, on the side wall of a house, brilliant and funny, as is the design of the chess set by a famous late Satirist. He called it “L’echiquieur de politic” (Political chessboard) Hopefully readers will humour the reporter with this journey through art, not being a Rye story.

Image Credits: Heidi Foster .

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