LA BRIGUELa Brigue avec un arrière-plan montagneux
©CRT Côte d'Azur France / Georges VERAN


The Côte d’Azur has an exceptional cultural heritage. The Heritage Mission, supported by Stéphane Bern, plays an ardent role in enhancing and saving this.

Between the sea and the mountains, we focus on 6 treasures of our region full of art and history.


At the gates of the Mercantour, the authentic village of La Brigue is famed for its remarkable heritage. And the Menton region is brimming with baroque treasures. Just like the two chapels of the Pénitents Blancs [White Penitents], which are the perfect example of the Baroque in Nice. On the one hand, the Chapelle de l’Assomption [Chapel of the Assumption] presents a Renaissance-style façade and an Italian-style belfry. Inside, its baroque style decor joins paintings dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On the other hand, the Chapelle de l’Annonciation [Chapel of the Annunciation] is used as a museum of religious art. Here, you can find the most important reliquaries of the parish, liturgical vestments and votive offerings. The chapel has an elliptical layout, characteristic of baroque art, with wall decoration and fake marble. Dedicated to the mysteries of the Incarnation, its decor are illustrations of Christ’s life cycle. These two jewels of baroque art were built in the 18th century by the Confrérie des Pénitents Blancs [the Confraternity of the White Penitents], one of the oldest friaries in the County of Nice.

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A listed Historic Monument, the citadel in Villefranche was built in 1557. Built by the Duke of Savoy, this monument is unique in France. It is the only complete example of the “Italian-style bastioned fortification” that would inspire Vauban a century later.

The jewel of Villefranche’s heritage, the La Turbie bastion is one part of this famous citadel that takes centre stage opposite the most beautiful harbour in the world. It houses the Volti museum. The artist follows the example of Rodin, Maillol and even Bourdelle. A lover of women, all his works pay homage to the female body. To him, curves and rounds were the very images of art and life.

In the heart of the bunkers of the Villefranche-sur-Mer citadel, the voluptuous curves of these great female sculptures in bronze and copper thus form an exceptional artistic ensemble based in a unique military structure.

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According to Edouard-Alfred Martel, the father of French geology, the cliffside fortress of Aiglun has an unimpeded view over the most beautiful site in France. The largest fortress listed in mainland France, the building, which dates from the 14th century, dominates the upper Estéron valley. Under the vertigo-inducing triangular cliff of Le Giet, its embrasure, its arrow slits and its imposing curtain wall make it a rural heritage unique in its kind. Often classed as mystical by visitors, the site still puzzles historians, who have not yet come to a consensus as to its specific purpose. Was it a defensive border bastion, a refuge for the military or for brigands, or a place of protection for the population? Located on the border of the Kingdom of France and the States of Savoy and Piedmont, we know, however, that the fortress was used for defence purposes for several centuries. In the hollow of an impressive canyon, the structure is therefore the unusual witness to a mysterious past on the Franco-Italian border. Amidst the cliffs and eroded mountains, the cliffside fortress of Aiglun is undoubtedly a site full of history.

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Nestled in the heart of the Red Gorges of Cians and Daluis, Guillaumes stands as the entrance to the Entraunes valley and Mercantour national park. Built in the 13th century by Guillaume I, who decided to make it a defensive site, in 1235 the medieval chateau took shape through Raimond Bérenger IV.

Belonging for a time to the Counts of Provence, then to the Kingdom of France, in 1706 the chateau was fortified by Vauban. Ceded several years later to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the imposing military structure was destroyed to prevent it being used by the Sardinians against the French state.

Queen Jeanne also played a part in the legend. While the Black Death had reached the county at the same time as her arrival, the Countess of Provence and Queen of Naples had, according to the legend, assassinated her husbands. Following a prediction, it is said that the cursed queen found her children assassinated on Christmas Eve. Mad with pain, she threw herself into Paillon valley, spreading a curse on the surrounding villages.

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Rich from its noble medieval past, Berre-les-Alpes is one of the hilltop villages that dominate the Nice hinterland. Straddling the Ferrion mountains and Mont Agrel, the village boasts several treasures. Just like its windmill, which stands amid the olive and sweet chestnut trees.

Long abandoned, the Berre-les-Alpes windmill has been able to be reborn from its ashes, thanks to an association of enthusiasts and the [French] heritage lottery. The structure, built ancient style, allows for retaining the building’s authenticity and ensuring that the blades and roof turn simultaneously to direct the mill into the wind. With its millstone, it now allows for grinding rye or barley. The production is therefore integrated into local festivals, such as the bread or sweet chestnut festivals, allowing a restart to the grain-flour-bread cycle.

A place for conversation and meetings, the Berre-les-Alpes mill is the only restored windmill in the Alpes-Maritimes

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Une publication partagée par Marc Cadenat (@marccadenat)


The Tower-Monastery on Saint Honorat Island is a jewel of the Lérins archipelago. It has formed the subject of a request for entry on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

In the midst of protected countryside, the old, fortified tower on the island that houses a cloister and a chapel was built at the end of the 11th century in order to protect the people against Saracen raids. A little later, the tower was transformed into a monastery with an aristocratic silhouette.

Today, the tower-monastery houses a community of 21 monks from the Cistercian Congregation of the Immaculate Conception. Since the Middle Ages, they have taken care of their 8-hectare vineyard. Wines and liqueurs have been cultivated here for 150 years.

Stéphane Bern’s mission is assisting the monks and launching an appeal for donations to restore the tower-monastery on Saint Honorat Island.

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