The second day of the trip was dedicated to exploration. One of the reasons that we like to stay in Nice is that we can rent a car and travel to areas around it. We are close to the mountains and many artistic hotspots. A lot of artists spent time in the French Riviera and have little museums scattered across. Nice has both a Chagall museum (worthwhile) and a Matisse museum (not worthwhile).
So our first stop on our trip was the seaside town of Antibes. On a really clear day, you can see the snow covered Alps in the distance. In the mornings, there’s a produce market where you can get your vegetables, cheeses, even spices for the day. We always spend time wandering around looking at the cornucopia. Also, I always try to use my scant French to ask for the strongest cheese from a cheese vendor. I was not disappointed. It was a washed rind cheese, though the name is lost to me. When it was room temperature, it was practically liquid. So very good. My husband bought some olives, which we worked our way through as we wandered the town.
We wandered around the town. We checked out the Cathedral Notre Dame of the Immaculate. It’s a lovely little church with a wonderful creche that included a lighthouse. The nearby square had these giant anthropomorphized instruments along with other Christmas divertissements including some rides and games. There’s a Picasso museum here but I’m not so keen on it. Some of these little museums are worth it and others aren’t. There’s also a Leger museum but I’m not a huge fan of his work.
Then it was time for our favorite museum in the region: Fondation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence. It’s a museum in the forest in the mountains. We always go there when we go to Nice. It’s mostly modern and contemporary art with the most spectacular sculpture gardens. ONe part of the gardens are called the Miro Labyrinth; it twists and turns around Miro’s wondrous sculptural creations. The permanent collection is rather nice; many really great Miro statues! Also, there are beautiful stained glass windows designed by Miro and a mosaic underneath a pond by Braques. There’s usually some kind of special exhibition, which can be hit or miss. This time it was a series of three sculptors but it didn’t really interest me too much.
Once over a decade ago, we were here when the region got snow, a rarity. There’s nothing like being in the mountains with palm trees and snow gently falling from the sky. It was magnificent at Fondation Maeght to see it lightly snow around the sculptures with the views of the valley through the pine trees.
We decided to take a little detour to the perched village of St. Paul de Vence, a short drive from the Fondation. It’s a little stone town on top of a mountain but completely filled with art galleries. Like any perched village, it’s fun to wander around in. We discovered on this trip that Marc Chagall, one of my favorite painters, was buried here. So I made a beeline for his tomb to find a cemetery with the best view I’ve ever seen. His tomb is fairly simple, though ringed with stones and other trinkets from admirers. I can see why he was buried here (with one of his wives). What a view!
And then we decided to make a final stop to the Matisse Chapel in Vence. We managed to get very turned around and ended up across the city from it. After some slightly harrowing steep hills, we managed to make it there before it closed. It’s my one of my favorite chapels. It’s not very big but it’s worth a visit. The walls are bright white and the stained glass is made from vibrant greens, yellows and blues. Even the holy water basins are beautiful designed. Matisse also designed the vestments, but they weren’t on view this time. It’s a wonderful holy place. It was his last work before he died. (Sadly, no photos of the interior)
The route home took a while since we managed to get on a road that was windy and did not allow for turning around. But when we finally got back to Nice, we had a lovely dinner where I partook of a seafood spaghetti, which was tops.
That’s all for now!