The worlds of film, cuisine and art collide in the village of Mougins, a small place with a large amount to see and savour.
Mougins’ film connections are varied, partly stemming from its close proximity to Cannes and its annual film festival. Stars, directors and producers have been known to retreat here during the festival, many of them staying on to relax and savour the atmosphere.
Food and drink is plentiful here, probably due to the fact the annual International Gastronomy Festival of Mougins takes place each September, welcoming hundreds of food fans and experts to the Côte d’Azur from around the globe. In 2013 the festival will occur on 27, 28 and 29 September.
Everywhere I turned there was some new sculpture, painting or gallery, meaning my whistle-stop tour wasn’t enough to visit the Mougins Museum of Classical Art, which includes hundreds of works by artists such as Pablo Picasso or Jean Cocteau.
Fortunately I did see a lot of artistic efforts in the streets themselves.
One sign you can see in the above photo is the side of the André Villers museum, a collection of work by the late French photographer and artist who became great friends with Picasso in the 1950s. The image on the wall is one of many portraits of Picasso by Villers.
I also spotted a street sign for Place Quinto Albicocco, a name perhaps familiar to fans the TV series, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1964). Albicocco was the programme’s cinematographer who was born in Italy in 1913 but died in Mougins in 1995.
Not far from the centre of Mougins is the legendary Michelin-rated Le Moulin de Mougins restaurant and hotel. Located within a 16th Century mill, the restaurant has welcomed many film stars over the decades, including director David Lean, who married there in 1990.
On entering the building it’s possible to see the handprints of dozens of famous chefs, while the windows of the restaurant are covered in signatures of celebrities including Sidney Poitier, Dustin Hoffman and Sylvester Stallone.
Elizabeth Taylor was once a regular visitor to Le Moulin de Mougins, hosting an annual charity dinner which Sharon Stone subsequently took over.
The African Queen in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Despite the huge range of restaurants available in Mougins, I was invited to lunch at The African Queen in nearby Beaulieu-sur-Mer. The African Queen has been a part of the Côte d’Azur for over 40 years and I was welcomed by owner Gilbert Vissian, who ensured a four course meal was freshly prepared.
Monsieur Vissian told me how his guests include Bono from U2, who owns a nearby property, and Sir Roger Moore, who regularly dines there. I was also told of the time Jack Nicholson visited and decided to become a waiter for the afternoon, serving surprised guests their meals. Whether he was given any tips remains a mystery.
Next time I’ll be visiting the town of Vallauris.
The Côte d ‘Azur, within three hours of over 30 European destinations, offers a wide range of themed stays all year round. With France’s second airport, Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, the French Riviera is within reach of over 33 countries, 103 destinations and served by 56 airlines.
Mougins is located approximately 31 kilometres from the town of Nice. Visit the local tourist office at www.mougins.fr/tourisme/en/.
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Top image © CRT Riviera Côte d’Azur – Photographe : Pierre Behar
Images of African Queen exterior and interior © The African Queen