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THINGS TO DO IN THE FRENCH RIVIERA FROM  HAUTE VUE  VILLA MONTAUROUX

  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Picasso Museum in Antibes

The castle of Grimaldi boasts a fascinating history; built on the site of the ancient Greek Acropolis of Antipolis, which subsequently served as a Roman castrum and a Medieval bishopric. Over three hugely productive years from 1946-1948 (including three months working on-site in a studio), Pablo Picasso created many works, paintings, and sketches. When the artist decided to move back to Paris, he left over 60 art works in the Castle’s custody; which were augmented with over 70 of his ceramics from the Madoura workshop in nearby Vallauris.


Chateau Grimaldi | Photo © Clemens Franz
Chateau Grimaldi | Photo © Clemens Franz

From 1952 to the present day, this core collection has been further expanded through donations and purchases, including custodial works loaned to the museum by the estate of his widow, Jacqueline Picasso, in 1991. The building itself was extensively refurbished in 2006-08.


ATTRACTION FEATURES


This is a delightfully compact gallery, which just oozes charm. The best analogy is "one great album rather than an entire discography"; featuring works from primarily one period in the artist's broader career (that was inspired by living in the Riviera).


The Most Famous Works

Some of Picasso's best loved works are here, including The Joy of Living, The Goat, and a range of nautically-inspired pieces like Satyr, Faun and Centaur with a Trident, Woman with Sea Urchins, and Still Life with Owl and Three Sea Urchins.


La Joie de Vivre (the Joy of Living) - Picasso, 1946
La Joie de Vivre (the Joy of Living) - Picasso, 1946

The Ceramics Collection

Personally speaking - having visited large, permanent exhibitions of Picasso in Barcelona, Paris, and Venice - I am firmly of the view that the ceramics are indeed the highlight of an Antibes visit. Picasso worked at the nearby Madoura pottery for less than two years, but produced more than 3,000 objects! They vary in quality from the simple to the sublime. The very best works exemplify his genius fusing painting, sculpture and drawing into a single form:


Walls of Picasso Ceramics | Photo © Adolfo D on Tripadvisor
Walls of Picasso Ceramics | Photo © Adolfo D on Tripadvisor

The Work of Other Artists

The Modern Art collection, started by Dor de la Souchère in 1951, has grown thanks to exceptional gifts from artists and periodic acquisitions made by the City of Antibes. The terrace outside is home to a permanent collection of remarkable sculptures by Germaine Richier. Other artists represented are Joan Miró, Bernard Pagès, Anne and Patrick Poirier. Separately, there are spaces devoted to Nicolas de Staël (from his seven month stay in Antibes in the mid-50s), and (husband and wife duo) Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman (who lived in Antibes).


2024 EXHIBITIONS - MUSÉE PICASSO - JOAN MIRÓ



From June 30 to October 27 2024, the Museum presents the exhibition "Joan Miró: masterpieces from the Nahmad collection"; featuring twelve masterful works from one of the most important private collections in the world (of David & Ezra Nahmad).


Femme dans la nuit (Woman in the Night ) - Joan Miró, 1945
Femme dans la nuit (Woman in the Night ) - Joan Miró, 1945

Of course, Miró and Picasso were friends and correspondents, so it's particularly appropriate for this exhibition to be housed at the Grimaldi. The rooms will host mostly a single work (or two at most), so the purpose is less about assembling works in a chronological or thematic order, but rather giving the maximum space for contemplation and interpretation fo each individual piece.


TOP TIPS


Picasso in his studio | Photo © Michel Sima
Picasso in his Antibes studio | Photo © Michel Sima

We have collected together a few top tips to help you get the best out of your visit:


  • No need to scramble online for savings. This is a small museum, so it carries a modest entry fee (of just €8 at time of writing). To enhance your visit, download the mobile app before you arrive. or check out the information sheets. Be sure to collect an audio guide at the entrance (available in multiple languages)

  • Park by the port when you arrive, so that you can take a leisurely walk (in the steps of Picasso) to Grimaldi through the streets of beautiful Antibes. Eating in one of the lovely outside-seated restaurants (before or after your visit) will make the trip extra-special.

  • Don't rush! This is not the Louvre! There is more than enough time to really appreciate the pieces. Sit or stand. Relax, Squint. Make sketches. Consider how the majority of these works were produced just two years after the liberation of Antibes from the Nazis. They speak to a new-found sense of optimism and hope for the future. Can you feel it?


WHY NOT COMBINE WITH...


The Orca Show at Marineland | Photo © Marineland
The Orca Show at Marineland | Photo © Marineland

Just a few ideas on other local tourist attractions - particularly if you need a less highbrow antidote to all this high art!


  • Marineland - covering 26 hectares, Marineland includes a marine zoological park (with dolphinarium), the "Kid's Island" play park, and a Resort hotel. If you have kids and they are driving you nuts, there is no better place on the Riviera for them to let off steam. Highlights include the Orca, Dolphin and Sea Lion shows, plus the Shark Tunnel. You can get a combi-ticket, which includes access to the adjacent Aquasplash water park, and "Adventure Golf" mini-golf (see below).

  • Aquasplash - featuring 2,500 m of giant slides, a lagoon and a wave pool, Aquaspash covers an open-air site of 20,000 m2. Fully renovated in 2022, it's perfect for families with kids who love watersports. Adrenaline rushers can slide down around ten different slides, including Side Winder, Turbolance and Triple Tour. Yes, there is a Lazy River (always my favourite!) and there are lots of spaces designed for very little children, including the lagoon and Pirate Island.

  • Adventure Golf - Not just one miniature golf course, but three to choose from, suiting your level of skill: Little Explorers (beginner), Adventurers (intermediate) and Conquerors (expert). Each has 18 holes, where you have to overcome the usual obstacles between you and the hole. Once done, you can celebrate your victory with some fast food at the Club House! There is also an indoor, air-conditioned Games Room with air hockey tables, shuffleboards, table football, pinball, arcade games, and rides for the little ones.


VIDEO TEASER


A fantastic tour video from oil-on-canvas landscape artist, Jess Oliver. I am sure you will agree that having one artist review the work of another is just beautifully illuminating:





HOW TO GET THERE


  • By train: you have a choice of the Antibes station (on the SNCF-TGV fast line from Marseille to Ventimiglia) and the Juan-les-Pins and Biot train stations (only local TER trains). Buy your tickets in advance for reduced hassle. Timetables here.       

  • By car: exit the A8 autoroute at "la Provençale" (exit 44), then take the RD 6007 followed by the RD 6098 to the centre. A full list of car parks is here.

  • By bus: The local bus network is run by Envibus who provides services in Antibes as well as the surrounding communes, including Juan-les-Pins, Biot, Châteauneuf, Gourdon, Vallauris Golfe-Juan and Villeneuve-Loubet. Most services run every 15 to 30 minutes and you can download the timetable at the Envibus website:

    • Bus 2 - Antibes - Plage du Ponteil - Phare du Cap - Eden Roc

    • Bus 10 - Antibes - Biot Gare SNCF - Marineland - Biot village - Valbonne

    • Bus 14 - Fort Carre - Port Vauban - Plage du Ponteil - Port de la Salis

    • Bus 15 - Juan les Pins Gare SNCF circular

    • Bus 23 - Antibes - Biot Station - Villeneuve-Loubet Marina - La Colle sur Loup


RESOURCES


  • More detail on the Miró Exhibition in 2024

  • Official pages of the Museum on the Antibes / Juans-les-Pins tourist site


ACCOMMODATION



With stunning views, private pool, super-fast Broadband and modern air-conditioning, the villa Haute Vue is a large Holiday Home in Montauroux; centrally positioned for exploring both the interior of Provence and the highlights of the French Riviera. Sleeping 10/12 in 5/6 bedrooms, it is close to the beautiful perched villages of the Var and in easy reach of the beaches and sights of the sparkling Côte d'Azur.

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