Top art galleries and museums in Côte d'Azur

Want to soak up some culture as well as sun, sea, and sand? We've compiled a list of some of the best museums and art galleries in the South of France to help you make your escape.
The French Riviera is known mostly for its pristine beaches, azure-blue horizons, and luxurious getaways. But for those with a taste for culture, or those who could sooth their sun-soaked skin and escape inside for an afternoon, Nice and the Provence area hides a wealth of stunning museums.

Ranging from Roman antiquities to eccentric modern art, Provence has an enormous array of museums to suit every taste. To ease your decision making, our guide provides you with a few of the best places to lose yourself amongst the priceless works of some of the most eminent creators.

Le Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) (Nice)

Nice’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary art is one of the most striking structures in a city brimming with architectural wonders. Conceived to satisfy the two main features of Nice’s architecture and inaugurated in 1990, the MAMAC blends Belle Époque design with modern construction.

Featuring sculptures by modern artist, Niki de Saint Phalle dominating the esplanade and the interior, works by Sol Lewitt, David Tremlett and many more, this fascinating museum offers a wide selection of the splendors of 20th and 21st century art.

Glass and steel arches open vistas of the gardens and city to punctuate the works of art. Easily accessible and with a free entrance, this museum is a perfect way for art lovers to beat the heat.

Visit Website - The Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain

Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret (Nice)

Taking its name from Belle-Époque poster artist Jules Chéret, this gallery appears more like a palace than a museum. Which may be because it was.

Built for a Ukrainian princess and opened as a museum in 1928, the rich architecture of this gallery is mirrored in the splendor of its contents.

Sculptures by Francois Rude and Auguste Rodin are prominent in the corridors while a splendid collection of Fauvist paintings by Raoul Dufy fills the upstairs. Several ceramics by Picasso are also on display in this small but well stocked museum.

Located near the sea on the west side of the city, you can’t miss it. And you shouldn’t.

Visit Website - The Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret

La Malmaison (Cannes)

La Malmaison gallery is housed in the last vestige of the original, famed Grand Hôtel. Most of the structures dating to 1863 were demolished and rebuilt in the 1960s. But one pavilion remains today, and in its splendid halls the city of Cannes exhibits some of the greatest works of art.

In two major exhibitions a year, La Malmaison now brings an exceptional selection of works to the South of France.

The charmingly proportioned rooms, renovated in the mid-1990s, offer a chance to see some of the most important works by artists including Matisse and Picasso, as well as more contemporary works by Miró, Masson, and Chu Teh-Chun, among others.

La Malmaison’s unbeatable location on the harbour means that visitors don’t have to look hard for a stunning glimpse of art.

Visit Website - La Malmaison

The Musée Marc Chagall (Nice)

As its name suggests, the Musée Marc Chagall offers us an extensive look at the works of Marc Chagall. With over 800 of his pieces, this Niçois museum contains the largest collection of his works anywhere in the world.

Inaugurated in 1973 with the support of the French Minister of Culture, this museum has grown from an understated display of Biblical paintings to a vast collection of Chagall’s works and others.

The simple building, surrounded by an elaborate garden by Henri Fish, presents each piece without distraction. Overlooking the Parc Paradisio in the centre of Nice, this museum makes for a cool, relaxing getaway.

Visit Website - Musée Marc Chagall

The Musée Matisse (Nice)

No discussion of Southern French art can be had without mentioning Matisse. Here, in the museum that bears his name, one can have an intimate and extensive look at the works of the French painter who lived much of his life in Nice.

From the Musée Matisse’s perch atop the hill in the center of Nice, one is offered views of sprawling gardens and Roman ruins.

But it is the stunning red facade of the museum that catches the eye, looking every bit like the epitome of Southern French aristocracy.

And inside, dappled with natural light, the works of one of France’s most eminent are displayed to their full whimsy and air.

With a stroll through Roman arena and lush gardens, makes for a perfect afternoon escape.

Visit Website - Musée Matisse

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