Biot, Musée Fernand LégerBiot, Musée Fernand Léger
©CRT Côte d'Azur France/ Georges VERAN

5 ideas for contemporary art fans

The Côte d’Azur is an immensely creative region where avant-garde artists have left an indelible mark through both permanent collections and ad-hoc exhibitions. Over 60 years from 1951 to the present day, Contemporary art and the Côte d’Azur have developed close ties as evidenced by these five legendary art venues on the Côte d’Azur:


Nestling in the hills above Saint-Paul-de-Vence lies one of the most beautiful treasures of the French Riviera: the Maeght Foundation. Inaugurated in 1964 by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, this major contemporary art museum is a place of incredible ambition and creativity elevated by many artists: such as Calder, Chagall and Léger, to name but a few. The gardens are home to Joan Miró’s Labyrinth populated with sculptures and ceramics. Georges Braque’s mosaic blends into the pools of this open-air museum. Under umbrella pines, the central courtyard features many of Giacometti’s sculptures, including his most famous work, The Walking Man. Over the years, works from Christo, Barceló, Folon and many other artists have joined their illustrious forebears to build up one of the finest art collections in Europe comprising over 9,000 works.


On the island of Porquerolles, in the heart of the exceptional Port-Cros National Park, the Carmignac Foundation exhibits contemporary artworks and organises temporary exhibitions along with a rich cultural programme. In this gigantic Provençal farmhouse, the Pop Art movement comes face to face with magnificent contemporary paintings. Outside, some fifteen sculptures inhabit a grandiose park, designed by Louis Benech, the famous landscape architect who renovated the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Each year, cultural events are held, as a way to help you discover these works of art.

Not far from there, in Hyères, the Villa Noaillesis home to a collection from the greatest avant-garde artists from the 1920s to the 1960s: Dalì, Man Ray, Cocteau, Buñuel… This icon of modern architectural heritage now mainly organises exhibitions, festivals and workshops on the themes of fashion, design, architecture and photography. The Villa is surrounded by gardens that have been awarded the official title of ‘Remarkable Gardens.’ It is also a protected Historical Monument, that has earned additional titles such as ‘20th Century Heritage,’ ‘Maison des Illustres’ and ‘Iconic Houses.’


The ambitious and original architecture of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice provides the setting for an exhaustive panorama of modern and contemporary art from 1950 to the present day, with some 1300 works of art by more than 300 artists.

The various collections are arranged into several artistic movements: New Realism, Pop Art, Minimal Art or Conceptual Art, Group 70, Fluxus group and free figurative art. Artists exhibited there include César, Arman, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein,  Ben Vautier from Nice, Paul Jenkins and Frank Stella.

The MAMAC is also home to the largest French collection of artist Niki de Saint Phalle, with some 190 pieces. The museum continues to add to its collections. The aim is to promote both international and regional modern and contemporary art and thus showcase well-known and lesser-known artists and trends.


Located at the foot of the historic centre of Biot, the Fernand Léger National Museum bears witness to a strong regional cultural movement that emerged in the 1960s. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to this 20th century artist who lived and worked in this village of potters and glass-blowers. The painter moved there to supervise the production of his ceramic works. The museum’s collection of paintings, ceramics and drawings is a unique opportunity to discover this major avant-garde artist. From his cubist research to the large colourful compositions of the 1950s. The contrasts of form and the dynamism of colour evoke the rhythm of the machine, the poetry of objects and the beauty of the modern city.


The Picasso Museum is classified as a historical monument and was the first museum dedicated to the artist. In 1946, the master of Cubism used part of the building as a studio. He produced many works of art there and left 23 paintings and 44 drawings to the town of Antibes. These include, among his most famous paintings: La Joie de vivre, Satyre, Faune et centaure au trident and La Femme aux oursins.

Picasso added to this collection with a donation of 78 ceramics he created at the Madoura workshop in Vallauris, and then Jacqueline Picasso’s donation further expanded the collection.

The museum also features works by Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman. In addition, there is a very large collection of modern art including sculptures by well-known artists on the castle’s terrace.