Landscapes, art and history on the French Riviera

I had never been to the French Riviera, but I can say that I had often wanted to go there. So all the things I saw during my vacation between Menton and Frejus, in a long stretch of coast full of scenic, artistic and historical attractions, have left an imprint that will remain forever in my memory. The delightful Antibes with the amazing Picasso Museum inside the Grimaldi Castle overlooking the sea, Cannes and the Croisette, the pleasantness of small ancient centers like Saint Paul de Vence, Grasse, Biot, Menton and many other things. Among the most unusual attractions, the Villa Thérylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, with which the eccentric scholar Théodore Reinach intended to realize, in the middle of the Belle Époque, the reconstruction of a palace of ancient Greece. And then Nizza, of which I was able to admire the exceptional museums, the intriguing neighborhoods, and above all, the magnificent light that in the summer mornings makes the surface of the sea shine, a real spectacle to enjoy while walking on the Promenade des Anglais. Afterwards, the Villa Ephrussi de Rotschild, located not far from the exclusive Cap Ferrat. Surrounded by splendid gardens, it remains tied to the name of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, who had it built at the beginning of the twentieth century and completed it, endowing it with furnishings and works of art of extraordinary quality. The villa is not surprising either for its size or for its architecture, which can be defined as an eclectic re-proposal of an Italian Renaissance villa, with reminiscences a little Venetian rather a bit Florentine, and with the addition of Gothic architectural motifs. I was especially impressed by the gardens, beautiful and inventive in their subdivision into distinct areas each with its own theme, and the interiors, which feature furnishings and decorations worthy of a royal residence. And above all, one cannot remain indifferent to the views that can be admired both from the villa and from the gardens, with the view of the two bays, shining blue and situated on each side of the small promontory on which the complex is located, jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea like the bow of a fairy tale ship. Finally, among the things I cannot forget, there is the small Chapel of the Rosary of Vence.Designed and built between 1948 and 1951, its decorative apparatus was entirely designed by Henri Matisse. She was a former assistant and a model, later a nun, to involve him in this project: Monique Bourgeois, then Sister Jacques-Marie, linked to Matisse by a sincere friendship. From an architectural point of view it is an extremely simple space, while one is struck by the magnificent colors and the essential yet so expressive forms of the windows, clearly derived from the experiments of Matisse known as papiers gouachés découpés (painted paper in cropped tempera), largely visible in the Matisse museum in Nice.

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