Above, is Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhone.” It was painted in Arles, France. Click here to view the full image, which is courtesy of Wouter de Brujin on flickr.
Picking up where Wednesday’s post left off, we continue along the Painters of the Côte d’Azur Route. Although Saint-Tropez may be considered to be the unofficial western limit of the French Riviera, there are a few more stops you should consider adding to your itinerary if you’re interested in learning more about Cote d’Azur artists. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on Cézanne and Van Gogh’s south of France stomping grounds.
Cote d’Azur Artists & The Destinations Which Inspired Them
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) stayed at the Grimaldi Castle for six months in 1946. The fortress has since been converted into a museum and is an absolute must see while in Antibes; it holds a substantial assortment of Picasso originals. A hike along the Cap d’Antibes trail offers spectacular views of one of artist’s favorite seascapes to sketch.
Paul Signac (1863-1935) bought Villa La Hune in 1897 and painted a number of vibrant compositions of the St. Tropez harbor. He frequently opened his home to other aspiring artists of the time and is said to have greatly influenced Matisse’s works. Although his home and studio still exist today, it is a private residence and can not be toured. As an alternative, you can visit the Musee de l’Annonciade, which is based in a 16th century chapel and features pieces created by Signac, Matisse, and many more notable artists.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) captured several breathtaking scenes on canvas of the L’Estaque fishing village and Bay of Marseille seascapes. His paintings were greatly admired by Picasso, Matisse, and several other significant painters. Take a long afternoon stroll along the painters’ path and see the town through the artist’s eyes. For one of L’Estaque’s best panoramas overlooking the Mediterranean and Marseille, check out the vista from the Foundation Monticelli museum.
Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence and spent a great deal of time painting landscapes throughout the region’s countryside. Jas de Bouffan was his father’s home, and today the manor is a heritage site that is partially open to the public. Cézanne’s studio, the Path to Bibemus, and a self guided tour of the city in the artist’s footsteps are excellent activities to consider doing while in Aix-en-Provence.
Unfortunately the Yellow House that Van Gogh (1853-1890) stayed in and used as a subject for a few of his renowned paintings was damaged beyond repair during WWII. The famously depicted eatery in Café Terrace at Night can be visited and is now called Café Van Gogh. The owners have kept the building’s façade true to how it appeared in 1888. Picasso was also taken by Arles, for the bull fighting and his admiration of Van Gogh. The Réattu Museum has an extensive collection of drawings and a couple paintings on display, which were donated by Picasso. Just twelve kilometers north of Arles is Saint Paul de Mausole; it is the asylum where Van Gogh remained and received treatment for a year. It is still a mental health care facility, but the public is allowed to tour a historically preserved section of the hospital when staff deems it appropriate.
The great painters of the French Riviera knew that the best time to visit the popular resort destination was after the summer crowds cleared from the coastline. You too should take advantage of this well kept secret. You’ll beat peak season’s heat, humidity, droves of people, and you’ll have the roads to yourself with a rental car in Arles.