On a rainy day in Paris our thoughts turn to a sunny sojourn on the Cote d’Azur…sigh…and a particularly nice spot for modern art.

A cute-as-a-button medieval village around 20 minutes from Nice seems an unlikely spot for a modernist masterpiece. But in the 1960’s, Saint Paul de Vence was a magnet for glitterati from artists Joan Miró and Marc Chagall to movie stars Simone Signoret, Yves Montand and Roger Moore. Two landmarks still bear witness to those heady times: the elegant Colombe d’Or Hotel, which features original artwork by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder, and is still the area’s most covetable hotel, and the Foundation Maeght.

Opened in 1964 on the village outskirts the Foundation Maeght was dreamt up by Parisian art dealers Aimé and Marguerite Maeght. Their mission was to create France’s first privately funded, purpose-built art space to showcase the work of their artists and friends, including Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and Alberto Giacometti. (Oh, how nice to have such friends!)

The Barcelona-born modern architect Josep Lluis Sert was commissioned to design a museum that would complement the Maeght collection, while blending with the local environment. The resulting museum is modernism on an intimate scale which reveals an elegant synergy between the exhibition spaces, collection and charming garden setting. The museum holds a regular programme of rotating exhibitions from the Maeght’s impressive collection and, increasingly, contemporary artists. (Among other projects, Sert later designed the Fundació Joan Miró.)

Regardless of what’s on, take a leisurely stroll through the gardens studded with wonderful outdoor sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Georges Braques and Joan Miro’s fantastic Labyrinth.

There is an onsite cafe featuring spindly furniture by Giacometti but we weren’t too impressed with the standard of service nor produce – head into the village instead and enjoy an apero and perhaps a game of petanque, like days of old…  We booked a table on the charming terrasse of Le Tilleul Menthe restaurant and ordered the ‘Marseillaise’ fish stew… it was so good we went back the following night and had it again.

For information contact Foundation Maeght.

Fondation Maeght
623, chemin des Gardettes
06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Tel: +33 4 93 32 81 63

Confirm opening hours before visiting as they change seasonally.