This visit to the Riviera included a number of places that we had never managed to visit in the past.
One was St-Paul-de-Vence. It is both a picturesque hilltop medieval village and one big art gallery. A large percentage of commercial establishments in the village core are contemporary-art boutiques. Makes for a pretty attractive overall package.
Taking pictures inside galleries is not always welcome, so I usually do not even attempt or ask. Therefore, just a few street perspectives.
The main visual feature of the village center – called simply “the fountain of St-Paul-de-Vence” – did not run with water during our visit, on account of a local drought ordinance.
Open-air sculptures further enliven the atmosphere here or there.
Street signs are works of art in their own right.
At the southern edge of the village, the commune’s cemetery is a minor point of interest.
This is the final resting place of Marc Chagall. I had to stop by to pay my respects.
The stones on the grave, in the unmistakably Jewish tradition, are a moving detail.
From the ramparts of St-Paul-de-Vence, a view towards the nearby peaks of the Alpes-Maritimes.
And a quite remote view of the sea.
We are closer to the sea now, in Cagnes-sur-Mer.
If I had to name a single favorite painter of mine of all time, it would unquestionably be Pierre Auguste Renoir. He spent the last dozen years of his life on an estate in Cagnes-sur-Mer which now houses Musée Renoir. The above view is from the museum’s balcony.
I knew what to expect from this museum, and it proved to be a bit underwhelming, of real interest only to people who are true Renoir enthusiasts. The museum offers a good insight into how the painter and his family lived in those years but it has literally no original Renoir paintings of note. There are a few much lesser works and also paintings by others who depicted Renoir, his family, and their surroundings. There is a good collection of original Renoir sculptures – how many people know that he was also a fairly accomplished sculptor? – and beyond that, recreated interiors and serene gardens.
The views from the grounds towards the hilltop core of Cagnes-sur-Mer have got to be the thing that sold Renoir on acquiring this particular estate.
Another popular destination around Nice is Èze. Its small medieval hilltop core is all about tight confines and narrow passageways between old walls.
The pièce de résistance are the Exotic Gardens at the highest point of the perched village, where the castle used to stand in centuries past.
From here, a height of nearly half a kilometer, the views towards the coast are unparalleled.
The 18th-century Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, the main church in town.
Terraced gardens of the most fashionable hotel in the village, with animal statuary throughout.
We’ll take a look at Nice next.