Everyone knows about the Matisse, Chagall, Picasso and Renoir museums, but there are quite a few others that are well worth a visit. Here is a selection of what I consider the other best art museums in the South of France.
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS/MUSEE DES BEAUX-ARTS in Nice
A beautiful ‘old school’ type of museum set in a stately mansion built for a Ukrainian princess in 1878. Over 400 years of fine art are represented, including sculptures by Rodin and Picasso, paintings by Raoul Dufy, Kees van Dongen, Mossa, Bonnard, Bruegels, Jules Cheret, and Fragonard.
This museum was the site of a major art heist in 2007 when masked gunmen burst in and in 4 minutes chrono made away with 4 masterworks worth 22 million euros: a Monet, a Sisley, and 2 Bruegels. The band was infiltrated by the FBI and was caught a few years later… and the paintings are now back on display for your viewing pleasure.
How to get there: By bus take #3, 9, 10, or 22, getting off at the Rosa Bonheur stop. From there walk up the giant staircase (40 steps) and it’s on your left.
Hours: 10am to 6pm; closed Mondays, May 1, Easter, Christmas and Jan. 1.
Guided Tours: Only in French, at 3pm on Wednesdays, for 6€
Tickets: 10€ for adults, or 20€ for the 7-day municipal museum card good for 14 museums and galleries in Nice. Free for children under 18, students of any age with student ID, locals with the blue Pass Musee, or with the French Riviera Pass. Click here for more info on the various museum passes.
Your ticket includes admission to the Museum of Naive Art/Musee d’art Naif, within 48-hours, which you get to by getting back on bus #9 or 10 for a few more stops, and getting off at the Fabron Musee d’Art Naif stop. From here walk up Boulevard de Fabron for 10 minutes until you see the rose-colored villa, built for the Coty perfume founder, with specially designed aromatic gardens. Hours same as above, but closed Tuesdays.
FONDATION MAEGHT in Saint-Paul-du-Vence
Pronounced “mag“, this estate is filled with fanciful, mostly abstract works (both inside and throughout the gardens) by Joan Miro, Fernand Legér, Bonnard and Braque, among others, plus always-intriguing temporary exhibitions.
How to get there: From Nice, take bus 400 and get off at the Fondation Maeght stop, Here are all the details on how to take the bus 400.
Hours: 10am-7pm July-Sept, 10am-6pm Oct-June. Closed days: None!
Tickets: It’s the most expensive museum on the Riviera at 15€, plus if you want to take photos or film there’s an extra 5€ fee! Discount to 10€ for students of all ages (with student ID) and children under 18. Children under 10 get in free.
BONNARD MUSEUM in La Cannet
Pierre Bonnard lived in La Cannet from 1922 until his death in 1947, and is one of the post impressionist masters. These years on the Riviera were his most inspired and prolific, and created over 300 dream-like paintings many of which celebrate the special light and beautiful landscapes of the Cote d’Azur.
How to get there: Take the train to Cannes, then take the Palm Bus #1 or #4 and get off at the Mairie du Cannet stop.
Hours: 10am-6pm in winter, 10am-8pm July and August, and open until 9pm on Thursdays. Closed days: Closed Mondays, plus Jan. 1, May 1, Nov. 1, and Dec. 25
Tickets: 5€ or 7€ for adults, depending on whether they are showing the permanent collection or a special exhibition. Reduced price of 3.50€ or 5€ for students. Special family deal for 2 adults and two teens for 10€ or 14€ Children under 12 are free.
L’ANNONCIADE MUSEUM in Saint Tropez
In this former fishermen’s chapel, right on the port of Saint Tropez, you’ll find a veritable who’s who of the post-impressionist period that is so intertwined with the image of the South of France: Matisse, Bonnard, Braque, Seurat, Luce, Modigliani, Dufy, Rodin… If you are going to take the trouble to get to Saint Tropez, don’t miss this little gem.
How to get there: Click here for how to get to Saint Tropez by boat from Nice (summer only). You can also take the train down to Saint Raphael and then catch the Saint Raphael express boat to Saint Tropez which will only take an hour and will cost only 15€ round trip.
You can also drive, but the 2 1/2 hour drive from Nice to Saint-Tropez is not recommended in the summer, as you will sit in sweltering traffic for seemingly forever.
Hours: 10am-1pm and 2pm-6pm. Closed days: Closed Tuesday.
Tickets: 6€ for adults, 4€ for students, and free for children.
- Back up to main Art Museums page
Photo credits: Beaux-arts by Miniwark, Fondation Maeght by Lexaxis7, and Van Gogh’s room by Marianne Casamance, all licensed under creative commons. L’Annociade from the official website, Bonnard interior and Villa Sainte-Helene by Therese Pouget licensed under Fair Use.