Where to See Art

The French Riviera is a place full of wonderful places and attractions, and among them, its museums that signify to the importance of the region to arts and culture. The French Riviera has been a place of inspiration to the 19th and 20th century Grand Masters: Picasso, Bonnard, Matisse, Chagall, Cocteau, and many others.

In this Iconic Riviera list, we will take you to an online journey to the best places to see art in the French Riviera. These places are highly recommended for art lovers and enthusiasts.

St-Tropez: l’Annonciade Museum

This museum has astounding art collections from masters like Bonnard, Dufy, and Signac. It opened in 1955. Located inside a chapel of the 16th century, this small museum is an excellent example of how at the beginning of the 20th century Saint Tropez was a vital avant-garde center.

Paul Signac was the painter who discovered this traditional fishing port in 1892 while traveling on his yacht Olympia around the French coast. He fell in love with the town and bought a house here where he set up a workshop, La Hune, which invited other famous artists like Matisse, Cross, Derain, or Marquet to join him.

The exhibited artists have based their work on the study of color, light, and shape. The entire collection consists of pictures of the highest range, which are necessarily part of the movements of the pointillists, Nabis and Fauvist. The village of Saint-Tropez is depicted in most of the works shown.

Opening Time: Tuesdays to Sundays;
June to September: 10am–noon, 3pm–7pm;
October, December to May: 10am–noon, 2pm–6pm
Address: 2 Place Georges Grammont, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Phone: +33 4 94 17 84 10

St-Paul de Vence: Fondation Maeght

The museum has modern-art collections with a world-class caliber. There are sculptures by the exotic Miro, and paintings and other artwork by Bonnard, Leger, and Chagall.

St-Paul’s renowned art museum features works by leading 20th-century artists–including many who found inspiration along the French Riviera. It is a treasure trove from pieces by Georges Braque, Vassily Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall to unusual sculptures by Alberto Giacometti and glassworks by Joan Miró.

Although, you may find out that works from the permanent collection are often confined to a single room so that temporary exhibits can be made. Josep Lluís Sert’s innovative building is fittingly experimental, and the garden is delightful.

Opening Time:
July to September: 10am-5pm;
October to June: until 6pm
Address: Fondation Maeght, 623 Chemin des Gardettes, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
Phone: +33 4 93 32 81 63

Nice: Matisse Museum

Founded in 1963 nine years after the painter’s death, Musee Matisse has the most attractive collection in Nice consisting of the artist’s sketches, paintings, and bronze sculptures, as well as some of his personal effects. The collection is in a 17th-Century Villa des Arenes.

The Matisse Museum is on the second floor of the Villa des Arènes, located within the archeological site in Cimiez, holds the gifts of the artist and his heirs to the City of Nice.

The permanent collection of the museum consists of a variety of donations, mainly those of Matisse himself, who lived and worked in Nice from 1917 to 1954, and those of his heirs, as well as contributed works by the state. The museum houses 68 paintings and gouaches, 236 drawings, 218 prints, 95 photographs, 57 sculptures, and 14 Matisse illustrated books, 187 painterly objects, and prints, tapestries, ceramics, stained glass, and documents.

Opening Time:
daily except on Tuesdays;
November to April: 10am to 5pm
May to October: 10am to 5pm
Address: 164 avenue des Arense de Cimeiz 06000 Nice
Telephone: +33 4 93 81 08 08

Nice: Marc Chagall Museum

This museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of works by Marc Chagall that includes 17 canvases from his Biblical Message series.

The permanent collection is Marc Chagall’s most significant public collection of works. It is organized around the set of works produced by the painter on the themes of the Old Testament, supplemented by a substantial number of works of secular or religious inspiration: more than 400 paintings, gouaches, drawings, wash drawings, and pastels.

The museum offers the visitor the first room with twelve large-scale paintings illustrating the first two Old Testament books, Genesis and Exodus. In a second, the smaller hexagonal room is five compositions about the Song of Songs theme, another book of the Old Testament.

Opening Time: daily except on Tuesdays;
May to October: 10am to 6pm;
November to April: 10am to 5pm
Address: 36 Av Docteur Ménard- (Angle bd de Cimiez) – 06000 NICE
Telephone: +33 4 93 53 87 20

Nice: Museé d’Art et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC)

The building is a magnificent work of modern art in itself, having marble-faced towers and glass corridors. The collection inside contains works by some of the contemporary artworks by 20th-century avant-garde artists.

The MAMAC (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) opened in 1990, in the heart of Nice. This original architecture has an extensive permanent collection from the early sixties that traces the history of the European and American avant-garde. Its collection, focused on the postwar era, includes over 1,300 works by 300 artists. The collection, displayed on 2,400 square meters, focuses on the relationship between European New Realism and American expression of assembly art and pop art, linking regional and international art history.

Two modern art masters are on permanent display: Yves Klein, the fantastic blue monochrome inventor, fire paintings, and anthropometries. His solo room in Europe has no equivalent thanks to the Yves Klein Archives. The iconic female artist Niki de Saint Phalle, inventor of the Shooting Paintings and the voluptuous nanas, gave the MAMAC a significant donation in 2001, offering the museum the opportunity to become the second most important collection of her works in Europe.

Opening Time: opens daily except on Mondays; 10am to 6pm;
November to April: 11am to 6pm
Address: Place Yves Klein – 06300 NICE
Telephone: +33 4 97 13 42 01

Antibes: Picasso Museum

Picasso used the Chateau Grimaldi in Antibes as a studio in 1946, and now, it houses more than 50 of the artist’s paintings, sketches, prints, and ceramics. Some of the works of artists Leger and Miro can also be found inside the museum.

The castle once belonged to Monaco’s Grimaldi family. It is from the 12th century and was reconstructed in the 16th century. Most interior rooms have white walls and look like standard rooms in an apartment. There is, moreover, no access to the tower, which probably has a great view of the entire peninsula of Cap d’Antibes. There is, however, a spacious terrace with sea view and moored yachts there.

His famous La Joie de vivre (Joy of Life) is among the works of the artist that are exhibited at Antibes. There are 245 works of Picasso in the museum in total, and you can also admire the ceramics he has decorated, as well as the works of other artists.

Opening Time: daily except on Mondays; 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm
Mid-June to September: 10am to 6pm;
Address: Prom. Amiral de Grasse, 06600 Antibes
Telephone: +33 4 92 90 54 28

Menton: Jean Cocteau Museums

The multi-talented Jean Cocteau converted the 17th-century fort into his personal museum, called La Bastion. Cocteau was a brilliant playwright, author, artist, designer, and film director. He donated his works such as tapestries, set designs, and drawings to the collection. There is another museum dedicated to the artist’s work, a sister to La Bastion, with exhibits from the collection of art the enthusiast Severin Wunderman.

French architect Rudy Ricciotti designed the Musée Cocteau’s 20,000 square foot building as a two-story trapezoidal structure marked on all four sides by a concrete colonnade. Along with making the building easily recognizable, the patio also protects the museum’s interior spaces from southern France’s intense sun. In November 2011, it opened to the public. On its edges, a sequence of cuts “erodes” the roof slab, whose shape is inspired by that of sea waves, which become narrow skylights inside the building.

For decades, the museum has been dedicated to the French visual artist, writer, filmmaker, and playwright Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), one of the most influential figures in the European cultural scene with a long-standing relationship with Menton and the French Riviera. The permanent collection of the museum is based mostly on a donation by the Belgian-born American entrepreneur and collector Séverin Wunderman that includes about 1,800 pieces related to Cocteau and its cultural circle.

In a permanent exhibition at the basement level of the museum, articles from the collection are shown in rotation. The ground floor of the building is a spacious venue with no columns for temporary exhibits based on artists from whom Cocteau was friends, collaborated, or influenced.

Opening Time: daily except on Tuesdays, 10am to 6pm
Address: 2 Quai de Monléon – Bastion du Vieux Port – 06500 MENTON
Telephone: +33 4 89 81 52 50

Menton: Beaux-Arts Museum, Carnoles Palace

A former summer palace of the Grimaldi princes of Monaco, this is now a museum of fine arts having an extensive collection. Housed in the Princes of Monaco’s former summer residence, the Carnolès museum houses a collection of paintings from the 13th century to the present day, as well as contemporary art exhibitions. In the heart of an extraordinary collection of citrus fruit, the garden also allows you to discover modern sculptures.

Even if it is turned into a museum of art, the architectural features of the Princes of Monaco’s former summer residence are adequate to excite the visitor’s curiosity. Golden doors, woodwork, stucco, beautifully painted ceilings and parquet floors— this house is a gem of the collections of ancient and modern paintings that it houses today.

The permanent exhibition includes works from the 13th to 20th century and of medieval Italians (from the 12th to the 15th centuries). Temporary exhibitions of modern art include works of Picabia, Dufy, and Delvaux from the Wakefield Mori holdings, and pieces from biennales and bequests by artists. There are also Greek icons, Flemish and Dutch schools, paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, etc., and contemporary sculptures in the citrus garden.

Opening Time: daily except on Tuesdays, from 10am to noon, and 2pm to 6pm
Address: 3 avenue de la Madone, 06500 Menton
Telephone: +33 4 93 35 49 71

Cagnes-sur-Mer: Renoir Museum

Hoping for the climate to help ease his rheumatism, artist Auguste Renoir moved to Cagnes-sur-Mer. The house became a municipal museum during the 1960s. The Renoir Museum is placed in the core of a remarkable 2.5-hectare estate planted with olive trees and citrus trees that gives way to a breathtaking view of Haut-de-Cagnes and over the Cap d’Antibes.

The collection of the museum— painting, sculptures, the workshop of the artist, and furniture— is proof to the last 12 years of Renoir’s life in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The artist’s house at Les Collettes now contains 10 of his paintings and some of the works of Bonnar. It also features the family’s furniture and fourteen original paintings and thirty sculptures by the artist.

Opening Time: daily except on Tuesdays;
June to September, 10am to 1pm, and 2pm to 6pm;
October to March: 10am to noon, and 2pm to 5pm;
April to May: 10am to noon, and 2pm to 6pm
Address: 19 Chemin des Collettes, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
Telephone: +33 4 93 20 61 07