Love visual art? These are the most beautiful foundations, sculpture gardens, museums and other cultural gems on the French Riviera.

Every summer, the French initiative Plein Sud invites the general public to discover the diversity of art and architecture along the Mediterranean coast. These eight places are not to be missed when traveling to the South of France this summer.

Plein Sud unites southern French cultural initiatives dedicated to the visual arts, from Sète-Montpellier to Nice-Monaco. The French organization, set up in the spring of 2020, is promoting this summer the cultural richness of a territory of more than 500 km along the Mediterranean coast through 72 sites. Museums, art centers, private foundations, artist residences, sculpture gardens, exhibition spaces in vineyards, historical monuments or remarkable gardens … We chose eight must-see from the last guide.

CHÂTEAU LA COSTE

Château La Coste, in the heart of Provence, is a winery where wine, art and architecture live in harmony. Forty modern works of art are permanently installed in nature, and five galleries – including Oscar Niemeyer’s newly inaugurated pavilion – offer a unique experience among 124 acres of organically grown vines. This summer you will be able to pick up exhibitions by, among others, Idris Khan, Zhou Li and photographer Mary McCartney. Folk and rock legend Bob Dylan is exhibiting his paintings there until August 15th.

Info

2750, route de la Cride, 13610 Le-Puy-Sainte-Réparade

website. Open daily from 10:00 to 19:00.

Pavilion 6 × 9 by Jean Prouvé from 1945 and his Bungalow standard Cameroon from 1964 exhibited at Friche de l’Escalette © C. Baraja et_ou Eric Touchaleaume _ Archive Gallery 54 – Friche de l’Escalette 2020

FRICHE DE L’ESCALETTE

La Friche de l’Escalette, a domain on the outskirts of the Parc National des Calanques in Marseille, offers visitors the remnants of its remarkable industrial heritage, including modern sculptures and two light structures by Jean Prouvé. This year, four contemporary artists worked with the theme ‘Objets à réaction poétique’, after which they intervened in the domain. In addition to ‘Cabanes perchées’ by Marjolaine Dégremont and the installations of the duo by sculptor-ceramist Baptiste & Jaïna, Lilian Daubisse takes over Jean Prouvés 6 × 9 Pavilion with her huge ‘Bête endormie’ in cut cardboard. Prouvés Bungalow du Cameroun is home to Guy Barefs to Tours des Vents.

Info

Route des Goudes, cul de sac de l’Escalette, 13008 Marseille

More info via website. Open daily during the summer holidays, otherwise only on weekends.

Maeght Foundation
Maeght Foundation © Photo Olivier Ansellem – Archives Fondation Maeght

MAEGHT FUNDS

Fondation Maeght opened in 1964 and is the first foundation for modern and contemporary art in France, combining art with architecture and nature. The architecture is the work of Catalan Josep Lluís Sert, who previously built an impressive studio in Palma de Mallorca for his friend Joan Miró. Aimé Maeght, Miró’s gallery owner and editor, immediately knew where to turn when he wanted to build his foundation. Other highlights include the courtyard dedicated to Giacometti with a unique ensemble of sculptures by the Swiss artist, the Miró Labyrinth, a whimsical sculpture garden, monumental wall mosaics by Marc Chagall, a swimming pool designed by Braque and a mechanical fountain designed by Pol Begrave. This summer there is a temporary exhibition on abstraction and you can relax in Sous Les Pinsthe new café-restaurant on the domain.

If you are in the area, make an appointment to visit the Fondation CAB.

Info

623, Chemin des Gardettes, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence

More info via website. Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00.

Cap Modern seen from the Mediterranean
Cap Modern seen from the Mediterranean © Stéphane Couturier / Center des monuments nationaux – © Eileen Gray / © Jean Badovici / © FLC (Fondation Le Corbusier) – ADAGP

CAP THE MODERN

Cap Moderne is a unique architectural complex overlooking Roquebrune-Cap-Martin Bay. You will find Villa E-1027, the first architectural creation from the 1920s by the British design icon Eileen Gray and her partner at the time, the architect Jean Badovici, Le Corbusiers Cabanon and its five ‘camping units’ designed after an economical housing model. Le Corbu also left paintings and murals in L’Étoile de Mer, the domain’s bar-restaurant. Villa E-1027 and Cabanon have only been open again since the spring after a renovation, visits are only possible after booking on the website.

Through a water feature you look into the museum of the Fondation Carmignac
Through a water feature you look into the museum of the Fondation Carmignac © Fondation Carmignac – Photo: Laurent Lecat

VILLA CARMIGNAC

In the middle of the island of Porquerolles was initially a farm where the film director Jean-Luc Godard lived Pierrot is crazy filmed. In the 1980s, architect Henri Vidal converted the farm into a villa. Édouard Carmignac, invited to the wedding by one of Vidal’s daughters, fell in love with the estate, a dream place that he can dedicate to art. In 2000, Carmignac establishes its Foundation, a two-pillar corporate foundation: a collection of contemporary art of more than 300 works and the Carmignac Photojournalism Award, which supports an annual survey report that is the subject of an exhibition and a catalog. The villa has in recent years been further developed in collaboration with Atelier Barani and GMAA. Inside the villa, the rooms are planned in the shape of a cross. In the middle, a water ceiling pops up that lets in natural light, with views of the surrounding vineyards everywhere.

Info

Piste de la Courtade, le Porquerolles, 83400 Hyères

More info via website. Closed on Mondays.

Villa Noailles
Villa Noailles © Photo Olivier Amselle

VILLA NOAILLES

Like his Villa Cavrois in Roubaix, this holiday home, designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens, is a symbol of modernist architecture. The patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles once spent their summers there, now it is a center for contemporary art with a focus on young creation (fashion, design, photography, interior design). There are exhibitions, festivals (Design Parade until 4 September for example), workshops and a permanent exhibition on the history of the original inhabitants throughout the summer.

La Guerre et La Paix - National Museum Pablo Picasso
La Guerre et La Paix – National Museum Pablo Picasso © Photo National Museums Maritime Alps

LA GUERRE ET LA PAIX AF PABLO PICASSO

Did you know that Pablo Picasso lived in the ceramic mecca of Vallauris from 1948 to 1955? He chose the village chapel to make a monumental mural, War and peacea work in which the artist passionately and inventively condemns the horrors of war and shows his commitment to peace.

Info

Place de la Liberation, 06220 Vallauris

More info via website. Closed on Mondays and at

A work by the master himself on a facade of the Musée National Fernand Léger
A work by the master himself on a facade of the Musée National Fernand Léger © Photo National Museums Maritime Alps

MUSEUM NATIONAL FERNAND ARMY

Fernand Léger left his mark on the 20th century with his work. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, films, theater scenes, tapestries, mosaics and ceramics make up this unique collection that spans the entire artist’s career. This summer, there is an exhibition about his connection to the film world, where Léger was active as a set designer, poster artist, theorist, director, producer and actor.

The museum building itself, designed by architect André Svetchine in the heart of a park, is surrounded by monumental sculptures.

Info

Chemin du Val-de-Pôme, 06410 Biot

More info via website. Closed on Tuesdays.

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