Walking in the footsteps of Picasso and Monet: Europe’s painters’ trail

January 11, 2014 at 2:15 AM
Visit delightful towns like Villefranche-sur-Mer on Europe's Painters' Trail (Photo: Mark Fischer)

Visit delightful towns like Villefranche-sur-Mer on Europe’s Painters’ Trail (Photo: Mark Fischer)

For centuries the French Cote d’Azur has been attracting not only the rich and the famous, but also esteemed artists who have been inspired by the magnificent vistas of the French Riviera. If you want to see the beautiful countryside and vibrant French landscapes that inspired the great works of Cézanne, Monet, Munch, Matisse and Picasso, then take some time out to explore La Côte d’Azur des Peintres (Painters’ Trail). The route is comprised of lecterns that mark the spot of 80 famous paintings along the French Riviera, and include some of the country’s best museums of modern art. Here are some highlights of the Painters’ Trail to help you plan your holiday:

Nice

Art lovers will find superb museums and galleries in Nice (Photo: Artur Staszewski)

Art lovers will find superb museums and galleries in Nice (Photo: Artur Staszewski)

Nice is an art lover’s paradise. Henri Matisse lived in Nice from 1918 until 1954 and the city inspired many of his works. Nice is home to fabulous museums and galleries including Musée Matisse, the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, and the Musée d’Art Moderne. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a stroll down the lovely Promenade des Anglais, and enjoy the vibrancy of Cours Saleya market where you’ll find beautiful fresh flowers, gourmet food stalls, Provençal soap and a variety of vintage items and knick-knacks.

Mougins

At the Musée D’Art Classique A Mougins you'll find works by artists like Picasso (Photo: eduArd)

At the Musée D’Art Classique A Mougins you’ll find works by artists like Picasso (Photo: eduArd)

Mougins was where Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life. Located just 15 minutes from Cannes, in the heart of Mougins you’ll find the charming Vieux Village (Old Village). The picturesque hilltop village is home to the Musée D’Art Classique A Mougins, where you’ll find work by masters like Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore, Raoul Dufy and of course Pablo Picasso. If you want to explore the beautiful landscape that inspired his work take a stroll through Valmasque Park and the woodlands that surround Mougins.

Vallauris

Vallauris, with's quiet streets and old stone houses was home to Picasso for 7 years. (Photo: takato marui)

Vallauris, with its quiet streets and old stone houses was home to Picasso for 7 years. (Photo: takato marui)

Another picturesque town that has strong links to Pablo Picasso is Vallauris, which boarders Antibes. The artist lived here from 1948 to 1955, and during his time in Vallauris he created many famous sculptures and paintings. Known as the “town of a thousand potters”, you can see some amazing ceramic works created by Piscasso, as well as his Man with Sheep statue. When you’re not admiring sculptures you can explore the quaint streets with beautiful old stone houses.

Antibes

Antibes makes a great base from which to explore the Painters' Trail. (Photo: Pedro Szekely)

Antibes makes a great base from which to explore the Painters’ Trail. (Photo: Pedro Szekely)

In the beautiful seaside Château Grimaldi, now called the Picasso Museum, the artist left an amazing collection of work.  The château, which is located in Antibes, houses 245 works by Picasso. When you’re not browsing around the amazing collection, visit the gorgeous Beach de la Garoup at Cap d’Antibes, which Picasso often painted. The central location of Antibes holiday rentals makes Antibes a great base from which to explore the rest of the Painters’ Trail.

Cagnes-sur-Mer

Visit the landscapes that inspired Renoir to produce beautiful works of art. (Photo: Cea.)

Visit the landscapes that inspired Renoir to produce beautiful works of art. (Photo: Cea.)

Another great commune to visit along the Painters’ Trail is Cagnes-sur-Mer, which was the the home of Auguste Renoir in his final years.  You can visit the magical garden at Renoir’s estate, Les Collettes before exploring the winding streets of the hilltop town and the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes which sits at the top of the hill. The town has 14 Painters’ Trail art lecterns and is still a popular destination for French artists.

Menton

The vivid colours and vibrant landscape make Menton and the surrounding area a great stop on the Painters' Trail (Photo: suomi star)

The vivid colours and vibrant landscape make Menton and the surrounding area a great stop on the Painters’ Trail (Photo: suomi star)

One of my favourite spots along the Painters’ Trail is Menton. Among Claude Monet’s great works you’ll find several paintings that were inspired by the seascape of Menton and nearby Cap Martin. The artist was introduced to the French Riviera by fellow artist Renoir, and was inspired by the radiant sunshine, vivid colours and vibrant landscapes of the region.  While you’re in Menton you can also visit the Jean Cocteau Museum.

For more cultural holiday inspiration and to find your next holiday home visit HomeAway.co.uk.