ANTIBES is an art haven in sunny Southern France. There’s a whole bunch of activities and sights that await you in this art town.
After all, Impressionists such as Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezzane and Matisse flocked here for the southern sun, studies of light and joie de vivre. So, if you are a visual junkie, get ready to soak in the historical delights.
You can follow an “artist trail” or just visit the innumerable historical art museums such as FOUNDATION MAEGHT, the best of all modern art museums in the area. The place boasts of great sculptures, especially those by Miro, in a building that is very pleasant.
Another interesting one is the POSTCARD MUSEUM. As the name suggests, it houses numerous postcards that show the history of the place. Other museums include Matisse Museum, Museum of Asian art and Espace de l’Art Concret to name a few.
The biggest draw for art enthusiasts is of course, the Picasso Museum. The artist lived in Antibes and Vallauris in 1949. It was apparently one of the happiest periods of his life, when he was in love with a woman and with the Riviera sun and it shows in his paintings ——- great settings, an old castle and the sea front.
Antibes, where the museum stands, is at quite another pace (from Cannes). As the evening sets in, the markets are abuzz with a variety of things on sale ranging from designer jewellery to pickled olives, sun-dried tomatoes and more. There is lilting music playing in the backdrop by street musicians, little boys jiving with their mothers and the Church bell reminding you of every passing hour.
A little art gallery dares to position itself directly opposite the massive castle that houses the Picasso Museum. The brave owner is an Indophile and a yoga enthusiast. Friendly and warm, she guided us to the best café on the sea. It overlooks the large walled walkway that stretches for more than a kilometre. This historic wall is a visual delight, as its brown textured brick work towers over the Mediterranean blue. Order a four-course meal here and wash it down with a house rose for 36 Euros.
Antibes draws inspiration from Greek culture as well because the Musee Picasso (the first official Picasso Museum), formerly known as the Chateau Grimaldi, is built on the lines of the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis. As you walk up the stairway, you realise that these are by far some of the oldest steps you’ve ever walked on. Picasso lived and worked here for six months before he donated his works to the museum. His most notable paintings THE GOAT & LA JOIE de VIVRE are on display here.
In 1990, his daughter Jacqueline Picasso offered many more of her father’s works to the museum. These included four paintings, ten sketches, two ceramic works and six etchings. Today, there are in all 245 works by Picasso housed here, all of which depict his love for the Mediterranean ——— the sea plays a metaphor in several of his works.