When you think of the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, you might think of glamorous movie stars at Cannes, the allure of royalty in Monaco, or the shopping in Nice. But the French Riviera has long served artists as a source of inspiration, and the modern cities are no different. Even if you’re not a painter, you can follow in the footsteps of Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso and find some creative inspiration in the French Riviera.
1.Picasso Museum, Antibes
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel inspired in big, stuffy museums. I get overwhelmed by all of the different artwork, the different rooms, trying to find beautiful pieces in a maze of artwork. So you might be wondering why I would include a museum on this list. Well, the Picasso museum in Antibes is nothing like the big, overwhelming art museums that you might have visited in other cities. It’s the space where Picasso actually worked, and the small rooms have beautiful art but it isn’t overwhelming. It’s in the old town of Antibes, so you can stop by after visiting the market or find a cute place to grab lunch after your visit. While you walk through old town or walk along the sea, you’ll see why Picasso found this little town so inspirational, and you’ll feel it, too.
The other places on this list are a bit more specific, but I’m going to advocate that you visit the whole town of Eze, because it’s so tiny that it will take you less than an hour to walk around all of it, and also because the whole town is lovely. This is a town built on a hill, without streets, just steps and winding walking paths between shops, art galleries and restaurants. It’s a goal of mine to actually stay at the hotel in Eze someday, because the whole stone building of the hotel hotel is clinging to the hill with a stunning view of the sea. We ate at their restaurant once when we were there, and the view was like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since.
3. The Monaco Harbor
The harbor in Monaco is paradise for the very wealthy. The tiny country is filled with money because the wealthy foreigners don’t have to pay taxes. This might sound unappealing and uninspiring, but there is an aspect of such unimaginable money that is amazing to see. The yachts right along the edge of the harbor are the best seats possible for the annual Monte Carlo race in Monaco, which goes right along the harbor. And, if you’re inspired by social justice, it might comfort you to know that the Prince of Monaco supplements the cost of living for the native citizens of Monaco, so that regular people can actually live in the tiny country. This is essentially because the country is so tiny that all of the native citizens are related to the royal family. The balance of wealth and knowing that the royalty actually makes it possible to live in the country is unique and amazing.
4. Cours Saleya, Nice
The Cours Saleya is the market in Nice. There are markets along the French Riviera (there’s also one in Antibes, for instance) but the one in Nice is the biggest and most well-known. Here, you’ll find beautiful, amazing, flavorful produce, stunning flowers and lovely art. The first time I went, my friend Emily and I split a little basket of strawberries that were probably the best I’ve ever had. Farmers markets in the states always have better produce, and Europe has better produce than the US, so buy everything that looks good and eat a platter of fruit, tomatos Pro tip: if you buy a melon and a basket of raspberries, put both in the same bag and carry them around all day, you will have smooshed raspberries. (It’s possible that I know from experience.) If you’re an optimist, put it on your toast and call it jam!
5. Ile Saint-Honorat
Ile Saint-Honorat is an island monastery off the coast of Cannes. You’ll need to take a boat to get there, but trust me, the trip is worth it. Plus, I love a good boat trip. Once you arrive, you’ll find a serene, calm island of vineyards, where monks still make wine. You can go into some of the chapels and buy wine or corkscrews in the gift shops, and there’s a restaurant on one side of the island as well. If you’ve been traveling for a while, a few quiet hours wandering around this beautiful island will mix it up a little and refresh your creative side.
Where have you found inspiration while traveling? Let me know in the comments!