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Travelling through the French Riviera Towns in the Footsteps of Picasso

Like so many other artists, Pablo Picasso fell under the spell of the French Riviera towns of Southern France. The sparkling blue Mediterranean seas, the sunny weather and bright light inspired him to create an abundance of artworks.

The French Riviera Villages - Picasso  museum Antibes
The French Riviera Villages – Musee Picsasso Cote d’Azur

Picasso whilst living in Paris, spent time in the French Riviera over the summer months with his first wife, Olga in late 20’s & early 30’s.  The couple stayed in the French Riviera towns of Juan-Les-Pins, Cannes and Antibes. Later, Picasso returned for good, enjoying the good life with his various mistresses.

When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

Quote Pablo Picasso

Discover the Villages in the Cote d’Azur that Captivated Picasso

Throughout the Cote d’Azur region, you can find the places where he left his artistic mark. In particular, there are an array of art museums with wonderful collections of Picasso, such as in Nice, Cannes, Ménerbes to name a few.

The French Riveria Towns with a Picasso Past

Juan-Les-Pins / Antibes (1939 and 1945)

After WW2, Picasso moved to the old town of Antibes for a few months in 1946. He loved this little town and once you are here it’s easy to see understand why. A friend helped him find living quarters and a painting studio in a former castle called the Grimaldi Château. Picasso used the upstairs for his painting studio. 

The artist promised to fill the walls of the entire building with his paintings, which he did! When he left Antibes a few months later, he donated most of his artworks that he created here to the town of Antibes.

Musee Picasso Antibes
The Chateau where Picasso lived & painted – today Musee Picasso Antibes

Musee Picasso Antibes

Today the Grimaldi castle is now the Antibes Picasso Museum. This museum was the first Picasso museum dedicated to the Spaniard. It opened it’s doors to the public in 1966. Most of the artwork was donated by Picasso himself but the collection grew by further donations & purchases.

Picasso museum Antibes
Sculptures, Ceramics & Paintings in the Picasso Museum in Antibes

The beautiful Picasso Museum in Antibes showcases around 250 artworks by Picasso. It includes not only his paintings but also his ceramics & sculptures. It has a stunning collection. For more information about this museum, press here.

The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do? ” Quote Pablo Picasso

Vallauris (1948-1955)

Between the years of 1948 to 1955, Pablo Picasso spent time in Vallauris, a town in the Cote d’Azur with a long history of ceramic art. It was here in Vallauris, where Picasso discovered the medium of clay, which provided him with a new way to express his creativity. He experimented and worked with clay using kitchen tools.

Pablo Picasso and his partner, Françoise Gilot together with their son Claude, moved into a small house in the town, La Galloise. A year later, they bought  a decrepit former perfume factory called Le Fournas. He converted this building into an artist studio. Here in painted, sculpted and worked with ceramics.

Vallauris - Pablo Picasso landscape painting
Vallauris Landscape – Pablo Picasso painting [Public Domain]

Other People’s Trash was Picasso’s Inspiration

When walking to his studio from his house, Picasso would pass a dumping ground. Picasso often picked out discarded ‘rubbish’ that caught his eye. He would carry the ‘discarded trash’ back to his studio for later use. Over the next few years Picasso created some of his greatest sculptures, often incorporating the ‘rubbish’ of others. During his time in Vallauris,  Picasso produced over 4000 ceramic artworks at the Fournas workshop.

Picasso statue in Vallauris entitled:  El Hombre con el Cordero
Picasso statue entitled: El Hombre con el Cordero in Vallauris town square
Photo by Antonio Zugaldia (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Visit the National Picasso Museum (Musee National Picasso La Guerre et La Paix)

In celebration of Picasso’s association with the pottery town of Vallauris, a museum opened called: the National Picasso Museum. The museum is housed in an old Chateau – a former priority dating back to the 12th century.

La Guerre et La Paix by Pablo Picasso,, Vallauris Picasso Museum
War and Peace (1952-54) Musée National Picasso La Guerre et la Paix, Vallauris, France.

The museum comprises of the Magnelli / Ceramic Art Museum and the Picasso National Museum. The Picasso section contains a large installation called “War and Peace” (La Guerre et la Paix). Sit on the bench in the chapel and allow this installation to surround you… It is really very impressive.

The museum also showcases a collection of ceramic and graphic artworks by the Spanish artist. and an exhibition of photos of Picasso during his time in this small town Vallauris. For more details about the museum, press here.

Musee National Picasso La Guerre et La Paix
Musee National Picasso La Guerre et La Paix

Vauvenargues (1959)

Pablo Picasso lived briefly in the small town of Vauvenargues together with his wife Jacqueline Roque, after buying a castle in the hills of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Like his idol Paul Cézanne, Picasso loved this region.  His famous painting Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe was created here.

Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe - Pablo Picasso Painting
Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe – Pablo Picasso Painting [Public Domain}

Picasso is buried in Vauvenargues but you can not visit his grave as he is buried in the family’s private property and it is not open to the public.

Pablo Picasso's Chateau in  Vauvenargues
Pablo Picasso’s Chateau in Vauvenargues / Photo by Jean Marie Desbois [CC BY-SA 3.0]

There is plenty to do in the surrounding region of Vauvenargues. You can hike or bike ride around the majestic Mont Sainte-Victoire mountain that Cézanne and Picasso loved so much. For details of things to do in this region, press here.

Picasso Moves to Beautiful Mougins (1961-1973)

Pablo Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life in a beautiful estate, surrounded by magnificent gardens in the hillside village Mougins, inland from the French Riviera. When Picasso discovered this small town, it was virtually off the tourist radar.

One of the French Riviera Towns - Mougins
Mougins, France / Picture by Jacques MOSSOT (CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Mougins Landscape- Pablo Picasso Painting
Mougins Landscape- Pablo Picasso Painting [Public Domain]

It was during this period in Mougins that Picasso created many of his famous artworks. He died in his beautiful house in Mougins but his body was brought to Vauvenargues for burial in the family’s property. Picasso had a small private funeral, so different from the public, outgoing life that he lived.

Museum of Photography in Mougins

The photographer Andre’ Villers founded this museum in 1986 . This small museum showcases a wonderful collection of photos of Pablo Picasso taken by the photographers Andre’ Villers, Robert Doisneau and David Douglas Duncan.

There are also photos of some interesting personalities such as Le Corbusier, Dali, Miro, Leger & others. The collection of the cameras isn’t that impressive but the photograph collection is wonderful.  For more information about this museum, press here.

Musee de la Photographie Andre Villers
Musee de la Photographie Andre Villers in Mougins / Photo by Markus L (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Musée de la Photographie, Mougins
Musée de la Photographie, Mougins
Photo by or will fly aka speedbird (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mougins Museum of Classical Art (MACM)

The stunning Mougins Museum of Classical Art (MACM) opened its doors to the public in 2011. This three story building is gorgeous. In fact, it was once a medieval village prison!  The fully renovated museum has an interesting & very eclectic art collection. It showcases a mixture of antique, neoclassical, modern and contemporary artworks. 

If you love the modern masters, here you will find a great collection of paintings, sculptures & drawings of the great artists. You will find a fabulous collection of Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Chagall, Cezanne, Rodin, Dali, Andy Warhol & more.

Mougins Museum of Classical Art (MACM)
Mougins Museum of Classical Art (MACM)


Address: 32, rue Commandeur 06250 Mougins France
Tel: 04 93 75 18 22
Opening hours : Open from 10h to 20h from May to September and until 18h from October to April.

For more information, press here.

Lose yourself in Pretty Mougins….

After visiting the museums, stroll around this lovely hillside town that captivated the famous Spaniard in his final years.

For more articles about Pablo Picasso, see the articles below.