French Friday – Soak up the South of France’s Artistic Past

For those keen to indulge their passion for art while on holiday in a sun-soaked destination, it is worth considering taking a trip to the south of France. By heading to the Cote d'Azur, you'll not only have the chance to enjoy some pleasant weather but will also gain an insight into the life and work of world-class artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. With that in mind, I've set out a little information about what this part of the country has to offer culture lovers.

South of France Cote d'Azur
Cote d'Azur

I think the first thing that ought to be taken into account is the region's astounding natural beauty. Situated in southeast France, the Cote d'Azur has a Mediterranean-style climate where there are some 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures between June and August average above 80 degrees (27/C). Add this to the diverse range of terrain, which includes everything from olive fields to sprawling caves, and I don't think it'll be too hard to imagine why many artists were drawn to the area during the late 19th century!

South of France Cagnes-sur-Mer

Artistic Attractions in the South of France

Coming to the Cote d'Azur is a great way to find out more about the career of Renoir. Head to the coastal town of Cagnes-sur-Mer and you'll be in the place where one of the great leaders of the impressionist movement lived and worked for more than 20 years until his death in 1919. Wandering the streets of Cagnes-sur-Mer is a great way to gain an idea of what influenced the artist but you can find out even more about his work should you choose to visit the Musee Renoir.

Musée Renoir Maison

This attraction was once Renoir's home, though it has now been converted into a museum that features dozens of his paintings and sculptures, in addition to personal possessions and furniture. Make sure you spend a little time exploring Haut-de-Cagnes too. It is thought this medieval settlement was the inspiration behind several of the artist's paintings.

South of France Haut-de-Cagnes

Caves of Saint Cezaire

Elsewhere in the Cote d'Azur, I suggest that you visit Grasse. A great range of natural sights are to be found in and around this town, including historic olive mills and the stunning caves of Saint Cezaire. The later is around six million years old (though it was only discovered by humans in 1890) and features amazing natural geological formations in red, purple and other vibrant colors.

Lavender Field in Grasse in the South of France.
Lavender Field in Grasse

You're certain to find a holiday here to be inspiring, in fact, as Grasse is often known as the city of art and history, I'm confident it's the perfect place to indulge in French culture.

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Fragonard Museum

A number of amazing galleries and museums are situated here, including the Fragonard Museum. Set in a 17th-century country house, this institution exhibits a number of paintings and drawings from local artist Jean-Honore Fragonard and his son Alexandre-Evariste, with a number of guided tours available here.

South of France Fragonard-Museum
Fragonard Museum

As you can see, there is plenty of opportunities for you to get acquainted with southern France's artistic heritage but, if you're hoping to stay in accommodation that is as beautiful as the paintings and landscapes that you see, I think it's worth booking a countryside holiday cottage or villa.

Villa in lavender fields in the South of France
Lavender fields in the South of France

Doing so means that you'll be situated in a quiet location where you can relax and feel at one with nature. The stunning vistas that can be enjoyed from here could give you the inspiration to try your hand at painting or drawing yourself and, depending on where you stay, you may even get to take in sea views from your accommodation's patio.

How about you? Have you visited the South of France and seen any of these spots? Do you have other suggestions?

Find more interesting spots in the south of France in my AFAR Wanderlist.

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Soak up the South of France Artistic Past



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  1. Great post! Tempting photos and lots of good tips of what you’ll find. I’ll tweet this.
    (Andi – I’m still around, just swamped these days, probably due to memoire writing). Bisous!

    1. @Jennie, hello there, I have been reading the memoirs, quite a project!

  2. Beautiful!! Easy to see why it’s been an inspiration to so many…

    1. @Abby, true, and why so many flock there!

  3. I have been mulling over Marseilles, not particularly for its art but I’ve heard it’s an interesting, and lesser visited, place to go for food and history.


    1. @TheWanderfullTraveler, I would go just for its Bouillabaisse!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Katie, seriously, I want to be there right now!

  4. My daughter has always had a passion for France. She took the language in high school and college. Then for her honeymoon 18 months ago she let all friends and family know that if anyone want to give a gift that the couple were saving for a trip to France. A month after her wedding she was in France for 2 weeks with her husband. They loved it.

  5. Judith S. says:

    Going to France would be a dream trip. We would love to travel to the wine regions and countryside.

  6. This is one part of France we haven’t visited! I think the closest we’ve been is Lourdes. I’d love to visit the museums, the beaches, and those lavender fields!

  7. I never considered France a place I would want to visit for some really beautiful sights, but I really love the pictures you’ve posted!

  8. Trudy Clockedile says:

    I can see why artists love it there – beautiful.

  9. This is a great post. The picturesque scenery makes me want to book a flight there immediately.

  10. France is so beautiful.