Get a dose of artistic inspiration in ProvencePaul Cézanne - La Maison du penduPaul Cézanne – La Maison du pendu

Many of us are drawn to Provence by its rich culture, azure sky and ancient villages. The area nourishes both body and soul. The contemporary traveler to the French Riviera is not the first to discover it charms. Here you can follow in the footsteps of painters such as Picasso and Van Gogh.

Where inspiration comes easily

It’s not just artists and painters who were attracted by the lavender fields and olive groves. In 1309, Pope Clement V, who was originally from Bordeaux, moved the Roman Catholic Papacy to Avignon, where it remained until 1423, when it was moved back to Rome. Britain’s Queen Victoria also had a soft spot for the beauty of Provence, and sought refuge from the English winter here in the 19th century.

In the 19th and 20th century many artists flocked to the French countryside. They put not only the region on the map, but also on their canvases. The cold mistral wind that sweeps across southern France and the Mediterranean Sea, provides clean air and clear skies. The unique light is portrayed at its best. Artists such as Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh are just some of those who were fascinated by the scenery, the light and rich culture. They dipped their brushes and created wonderful paintings of Provencal motifs.

Immerse yourself in the surroundings

When you wander through the charming towns of Provence, or drive past the seemingly endless vineyards with Montagne Sainte-Victoire in the background, it is as if you are moving through a painting. Where in other cities you can visit museums to admire famous works of art, in Provence one can experience motifs captured by the masters in their full beauty.

However, a museum visit is time well spent, for once you are in Provence yourself, it is exciting to see how varied an impression the region left on the great masters.

Recommended museums

If you are near Antibes, you are bound to see the Picasso Museum. The genius is said to have been at his most creative during his visit to Provence in 1946. So pleased and inspired was he, that everything he created was placed in the museum, on permanent loan.

In Saint Tropez you will find the famous Musée de L’Annonciade. In this museum hang masterpieces of painters such as Matisse, Bonnard and Dufy.

St Paul de Vence houses Fondation Maeght, one of the finest museums of modern art. The avant-garde building is in itself worth a visit, not to mention the beautiful and interesting paintings from, among others, Chagall and Miró.

Chagall also has his own museum in Cimiez, just outside of Nice – The Musée National Marc Chagall, which contains over 800 of the master’s works. While in Nice, you should also pay a visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. There you will find not only Moet, Degas and Picasso hanging on its walls, but also sculptures from artists such as Rodin and Carpeaux.

Another popular place to experience Provence-inspired masterpieces is the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. There you will find works by Flemish, Italian and French artists from the 15th though 19th centuries.

Aix, Avignon and architecture

Art is not just something that is hanging on walls. Go see cities such as Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, rich in stunning architecture within a beautiful landscape. Aix was Paul Cezanne’s hometown, which is reflected in his art. The beautiful buildings between the pulsating life in the streets is an experience many treat themselves to. Avignon, for its part, is perhaps remembered best for its historical significance. The city along the left bank of the Rhône provides a fascinating journey through the Middle Ages.