Chapel of the Rosary, designed by Henri Matisse, in Vence.

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Chapelle du Rosaire

Top choice in Côte d'Azur

An ailing Henri Matisse moved to Vence in 1943 to be cared for by his former nurse and model, Monique Bourgeois, who'd since become a Dominican nun. She persuaded him to design this extraordinary chapel for her community. The artist designed everything from the decor to the altar and the priests' vestments. From the road, you can see the blue-and-white ceramic roof tiles, wrought-iron cross and bell tower. Inside, light floods through the glorious blue, green and yellow stained-glass windows.

The colours respectively symbolise water/the sky, plants/life, the sun/God’s presence; the western windows display Matisse’s famous seaweed motif, those on the southern side a stylised, geometric leaf-like shape.

A line image of the Virgin Mary and child is painted on white ceramic tiles on the northern interior wall. The eastern wall is dominated by the bolder Chemin de Croix (Stations of the Cross). St Dominic overlooks the altar. Matisse also designed the chapel’s stone altar, candlesticks and cross. The beautiful priests’ vestments are displayed in a separate hall upstairs.

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