Matisse in Vence

Reblogged: Written by Margaret Clare in Provence-Alpes for thegoodlifefrance

Nestling into the hillside above the little town of Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes lies the Chapelle du Rosaire or, as it is often called, the Matisse Chapelle de Vence.  Henri Matisse lived in Vence after the war when he was recovering from illness. The district in which the Chapelle is located in the town is now called Matisse District…

Vence – in the footsteps of Matisse

Matisse, recovering from an abdominal operation, advertised for a young and pretty nurse to assist him. Monique Bourgeois, the nurse who fulfilled the role, later became his model and eventually a Dominican nun in the convent in Vence.
Sister Jacques-Marie as she became, retained her friendship with the artist and later asked him to help design a Chapel that the nuns could use for their devotions. The Mother Superior frowned upon this relationship – but the project carried on regardless.

Matisse wrote that he did not choose the work for the Chapel, but instead he believed he was chosen by fate – it was an expression of spirituality. He believed that God had given artists the beautiful light to compose their paintings and this was his way of sharing – through this sacred commission. Although Matisse had been born a Catholic he was an atheist – but the Chapel gave him a chance to realise his life’s work.  When completed, he stated that it was ‘his life’s masterpiece’.

The Chapelle’s design is centered on the light, which he used in all its glory. The luminosity of the sun streams through the stained glass windows, which reflect the colours of Provence – blue for the azure sea and sky, green for verdant grasses and yellow for the plentiful sun. The walls are covered in white ceramic tiles, which have the figures of the Madonna and Child and St Dominique in his robes painted on them. The Stations of the Cross are represented as a tableau – black on white tiling. The pain and suffering is clearly portrayed in this Composition. The result when the sun streams through the windows means the colours are painted onto the white tiles – producing a dancing, ever changing artwork.

Everything inside the Chapelle and outside was included in this, his end of life, task. The altar, the crucifix, the roof tiles and the mystical spirals on the roof which are almost oriental in appearance. The roof tiles are a luxuriant blue – in complete contrast to the usual Provencal ochre tiles.

Matisse completed this work in 1951 and died in Nice in 1954. Sister Jacques-Marie was given the final punishment for her friendship with the artist – she was forbidden from attending his funeral.

The Chapelle is located next to the Dominican convent and on the side facing the Convent is a Roundel painted into the Apex – 2 entwined, nude figures, male and female. I smile wryly when I see this as I feel it was Henri Matisse’s final arrow for the disapproving nuns – they would forever have to look upon a slightly risqué painting….

Video of the Chapel by BBC Presenter Alastair Sooke – who was moved to tears by the beauty of the little Chapelle and its significance in the life of Matisse and all that it portrays:

Kids Riviera – Sun & Fun Travel Focus

Now available in paperback !

Kid-focused sites on the French Riviera, so that the whole family can enjoy the sun and sea, and experience the savoir-faire that the area has to offer.

CURRENTLY Available on Amazon  HERE

KD paperback coverReview:

The author’s love of France shines through in this remarkable travel book, and so does her comprehensive knowledge of the riviera. When you think of the south of France, you don’t automatically link it with a holiday for children, but this book certainly breaks down that barrier. As well as a valuable resource for parents, the book has also whetted my appetite, and Kim has sold the region to my wife and I. We’re all going on a summer holiday! – C.B.


Renoir – An art exhibit en famille

It was a warm, sunny day in Nice, after having had so much rain, so I decided to visit Place Garibaldi in Nice before heading to a vernissage in the port area. The square is famous for its number of trompe l’oeil frescoes, which are truly amazing – can you tell the difference?

Pl. Grimaldi

Place Grimaldi

I had an invitation to attend a “vernissage,” hosted by the artist, none other than Monsieur Jacques Renoir, the great grandson of the famous painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (museum link).


In speaking with Monsieur Renoir, I noticed his soft-spoken and gentle demeanor – notably humble for having such a historically-famous relative – I couldn’t help wondering what that felt like.

Jacques Renoir

I noticed a couple of his Americanized works of art, with his use of Budweiser labels and Nevada license plates, as well as the 3D effects that played tricks on the eye in his other pieces – curiously, not unlike the building façades I had just viewed.

Budweiser collage


The event was well attended, and Monsieur Renoir was a gracious host.

His great grand-father is quoted as saying: “The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself, carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion; it is the current which he puts forth which sweeps you along in his passion.”

Merci bien to both Messieurs RENOIR!

Renoir – Museum & Film

I recently visited the (re-opened) Renoir Museum, after it had been closed for renovation. Article & photos HERE

I also recently was in Cagnes=sur-Mer village, where I randomly chose a seat, later finding out that the man, who was sitting next to me and to whom I spoke briefly, is the great grandson of the famous painter, Auguste Renoir.  Sadly, 143 Renoir works are being auctioned against his wishes – article HERE

I now anticipate seeing the film about this talented artist who lived on the French Riviera. See newspaper article HERE

Nice Museums: We’re #2!

Behind Paris, Nice is next for the number of visitors to its city museums!

Exhibits List in English HERE

Matisse Press Release in English HERE

Official Nice Tourism site in French HERE

“To create the show, called A Summer for Matisse, pieces have been loaned from a wide range of French and foreign museums including the Centre Pompidou, the  Château de Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Andy Warhol Museum. There have also been numerous loans from Musées de France, especially from those museums located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region, as well as from private collections.
More than 700 Matisse works are currently on display in themed shows ranging from The Music in the Work’ (Musee Matisse), On the Subject of Swimming Pools (Musee d’Archeologie) and Matisse: The Jazz Years (Palais Lascaris).  Matisse on the Bill (Galerie des Ponchettes) delves into advertising  poster art while Palm Trees, Palm Leaves and Palmettes (Musee Masena) explores these recurrent motifs.
All shows are ongoing until September 23, 2013. A 10€ pass allows one adult entry to all eight museums for seven consecutive days. You can buy the pass at any participating museum.”
(Credit/Source: Provence Post)

Oceanic Museum in Monaco

I don’t like to swim and like to just look at the ocean, but am a huge admirer of the late Jacques Cousteau.  And so it was that I was excited to go to the Oceanic Museum in Monaco, where he had served 31 years as the museum’s director.  Surely, there would be a wing or exhibit dedicated to him……rien, zilch, nada, zero!

The internet makes reference to the ‘Cousteau Aquarium,” but I didn’t see his name anywhere in the museum cousteauand couldn’t figure out why.  I was disappointed and well….. angry that he had been, seemingly, forgotten.  As I walked around the aquarium, looking at all the exotic fish and sea creatures, I certainly didn’t forget to think of Cousteau and the Calypso!

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Mediterranean Food & Art – nice in Nice !

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Marc Chagall Museum and the 50th anniversary of the Matisse Museum in Nice. Nice is also full of spectacular examples of modern art that have added to its architectural heritage: “Belle Epoque“, “Art Deco” and Baroque.

Today, art can be found all over the city, which has become a real contemporary open-air museum. Explore the city by tram and follow the commented night-time tour “L’Art dans la Ville” (Art in the City) where you’ll find works by world-famous artists that add a very special touch to Nice’s urban landscape.

The tour lasts approximately 2 hours – Fridays at 7pm.
Languages: French – English.
Adult rate: 8 € (plus transport ticket 2 €) / children under 10: 3 €
(free transport for the age under-4).

Source: Nice Tourism

A – Z : The French Riviera

Tourist Office map

I will be continually adding and updating information & links on this page, so please check in regularly to this evolving post:

A – Antibes

B – Bus schedule information

C – Carnaval de Nice

& Cannes Film Festival (2012 video)

D – Dog-friendly; My dog loved living here, being able to go most everywhere, and especially riding on the scooter! (photo link)

E – Eze Village (not to be confused with Eze-sur-Mer)

F – Fenocchio Ice Cream – 94 flavors to choose from

G – Grand Prix of Monaco (1966 movie clip video)

H – Haut de Cagnes-sur-Mer

I – Imagine living here (video)!

J – Juan-les-Pins

K – Kite surf

L – Louis Vuitton will be launching a new perfume, in the Perfume Capital/Town of Grasse, to add to it luxury product line.

M – Monaco: The State Apartments at the Princes Palace are open for public visits from April 2nd to 30th from 10:30-18:00; May 1st to September 30th from 09:30-18:30; and October 1st to 31st from 10:00-17:30. Entry permitted up to 30 minutes before closing. Admission is €7 for adults and €3.50 for students and children aged 8-14.

N – Nice airport – useful information

O – Olives de Nice (les caillettes)

P – Paris (video link)

Q –

R – Roquebrune Cap-Martin (hang-gliding video)

S – Scams in Nice

T – Tourettes-sur-Loup

U – What makes YOU think of Provence?

V – Vence – Local Market held every Sun, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat mornings at the Place du Grand Jardin; selling local produce, flowers, fruits, and vegetables

W – The coolest weather gadget ever!

X – Xenophobia = Cultural differences

Y – Yoga on the beach (HI Beach) is a perfect setting to get fit!

Z – Driving in Nice is a ‘Zoo

Emergency Phone Numbers: 112 International help / 15 SAMU Ambulance / 17 Police / CNAM French Health Service English-language service Tel: 08 20 90 42 12

Nuit des Musées (Museum night)

In 2001, this cultural event (free entry to museums evening) was created to encourage young people and families to visit local museums, with 39 countries participating. It falls on the Saturday closest to May 18th, which is the date for the European International Museum Day, so that the general public can take part in their country’s culture.

In keeping with the festivities, I attended “Les Concerts du Conservatoire,”a free concert held in the Chateau-Museum Grimaldi, with a free tour afterwards. There were beautifully-framed works of art on the walls, with standing room only. After the town’s mayor introduced the orchestra, we heard pieces by Vivaldi, Barbella, Sibelius, and Piazzolla — Baroque period chamber music and various other rhythmic, musical works.  Everyone seemed to enjoy both the visual and acoustical ambiance of the entertaining;  being a dancer, I was ready to tango (link to dance video)!

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