Cultural Detour: Musée Renoir, Musée Bonnard & Musée Escoffier
For a culturally enriching day trip, head to the towns of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Villeneuve-Loubet and Le Cannet – all within 15 to 30 minutes of St-Paul de Vence – where you'll find a trio of highlights.
Just outside Cagnes-sur-Mer, the evocative Musée Renoir is housed in the Domaine des Collettes, former home and studio to an arthritis-crippled Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), who lived here with his wife and three sons from 1907 until his death. Works of his on display include Les Grandes Baigneuses (The Women Bathers; 1892), a reworking of the 1887 original, and rooms are dotted with photographs and personal possessions. The magnificent olive and citrus groves are as much an attraction as the museum itself. Many visitors set up their own easel to paint.
Equally wonderful is Musée Escoffier de l’Art Culinaire, which retraces the history of modern gastronomy. Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935), inventor of the pêche Melba among other things, was France’s first great chef and a celebrity among Europe’s well heeled.
Finally, there's Le Cannet's Musée Bonnard, in a restored belle-époque villa with a striking contemporary extension. Instantly recognisable by their intense colour, the works of neo-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) form the backbone of the museum's permanent collection. Bonnard arrived in Le Cannet fresh from Paris in 1910 and lived in a seafront villa with his wife, Martha, until his death. It was in Le Cannet that Bonnard painted his best works, including several landscapes of St-Tropez, Antibes and other Riviera resorts.