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A weekend on the Côte d'Azur


Antibes

Regardless of the country, meandering the Mediterranean coastline of Europe is a very pleasant experience.  We have covered large swaths of this territory from the Straights of Gibraltar to the Peloponnese and have delighted in the architecture, landscape, culture, gastronomy and lifestyle.  It had been some time since our travels took us to the Côte d’Azur, and we capitalized on some great sights and cuisine during a recent visit.

 

Matisse Museum

Many of Europe’s great artists leveraged this region for inspiration in their work, among them Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, and here there are museums paying homage to the mastery of each of these artists.  In a regal neighborhood of Nice is the elegant Villa des Arènes containing the world’s largest collection of works by the French artist, Henri Matisse.  In the same neighborhood, a twenty-minute walk from the Matisse Museum, is the Marc Chagall National Museum.  The collection features large format paintings inspired by religion that are full of color and the recurring motifs favored by Chagall in his paintings and stained glass works.


Picasso Museum

The former Château Grimaldi overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the old village of Antibes became the first museum dedicated to the works of Pablo Picasso.  The collection comprises a substantial amount of Picasso’s works from the time he was in residence there in 1946, as well as a robust display of the artist’s ceramics created in his studio in nearby Vallauris.  A stroll around the old city of Antibes is an attraction in itself, with bustling village squares containing lively cafés and interesting shops.  There is also a traditional al fresco market (Marché Provençal) that features classic local produce of the Provence region.

 

Mougins

Some of the most captivating villages of the region are in the hinterland, among those being Mougins which is minutes by car from Cannes.  This charming, medieval village is characterized by a spiraling ascent to a panoramic view of the majestic coastal region accented by pine, olive and cyprus trees.  Possibly owing to the fact that Picasso spent his final years here, the village has evolved as an artist colony and in earlier times attracted celebrities such as Winston Churchill, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Elizabeth Taylor.


Cannes

While Marseille is the capital and largest city in the region, it can be argued that Cannes is the cultural linchpin due to its hosting of the annual film festival.  As such, the coastal city has embraced swank without hesitation, complete with high end hotels, such as the Carlton and JW Marriott, and luxury retail shops, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, et. al.  Along the seafront of the village of Cannes is the Croisette, a lively promenade bordering sandy beaches and restaurants, where residents and tourists stroll at all times of the day.

 

Provençal specialties

No discussion of the Cote d’Azur is complete without recognizing the vibrant food scene of the region, the most renowned being bouillabaisse (seafood stew), soupe au pistou (basil and garlic soup), niçoise salad and tapenade, to name just a few.  And, of course, there are the fabulous cheeses and wines of Provence.

 

Bon voyage!

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