Dubbed the Town of Clay thanks to its historical connections to the ceramics industry, the Côte d’Azur town of Vallauris also has strong films links in the shape of the late actor and artist, Jean Marais.
With its pottery industry dating back to the 16th Century, Vallauris has long been associated with artists. Pablo Picasso was one its most famous residents, arriving in the town in 1948 and living there until 1954.
Creating art in the town for seven years, Picasso’s work is today open for public viewing at Castle Vallauris, which has two collections: the Magnelli Museum and The Ceramics Museum.
Beside the Castle is a Chapel decorated by Picasso, its impressive interior showing both the horrors of war and the benefits of peace.
There’s also a famous statue of Picasso, Man with a Sheep, designed by the artist himself, just outside the Castle in the old town square.
Nearby is the Hotel de Ville, the Town Hall, where Picasso married his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, in 1961. It was also the location for the wedding of actress Rita Hayworth and Prince Aly S Khan, who were married in Vallauris in 1949.
There’s still a chance to see ceramics being made in the area, with many small businesses happy to show tourists the methods used for generations.
Apart from Picasso, one of Vallauris’ most famous residents was actor and artist, Jean Marais. At one time the partner of filmmaker Jean Cocteau, Marais starred in films such as 1946’s La Belle et la Bête and 1960’s Captain Blood.
Marais moved to Vallauris in 1975, escaping from the world of film to that of ceramics, becoming a renowned artist. Now a museum exists which collects his work.
The Jean Marais museum is an impressive tribute, containing posters from many of his films, stills from numerous productions, a replica of his Beast character from La Belle et la Bête and works of art from later in his life.
I spent a long time examining the exhibits, marvelling at Marais’ skill and determined to try to get hold of some of his films on DVD.
After my tour of Vallauris I headed to local restaurant Nounou, a well established retreat for residents, tourists and celebrities during the Cannes Film Festival.
Famous for its fine food and views of the sea, I made sure I sampled the Bouillabaisse, a speciality of the house.
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. The 2013 schedule is available at www.nice.aeroport.fr.
Visit the Côte d’Azur Tourist Board website for more information on the region.
Mougins is located approximately 27 kilometres from the town of Nice. Visit the local tourist office at www.vallauris-golfe-juan.fr.
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Top image and Magnelli Museum photos © CRT Riviera Côte d’Azur – Photographer: Anaïs Brochiero