Let’s take a little tour of the Escoffier Museum. You may not have heard of Monsieur Escoffier but you don’t have to be a foodie to have heard of Peach Melba, possibly one of the most famous desserts in the world. Now you might have already guessed that Escoffier has something to do with this delicious dish and you’d be right.

portrait of Auguste Escoffier chef

Auguste Escoffier is the creator of the Pêche Melba, the father of modern French cuisine and one of the most influential chefs of all time. The Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art, le Musée Escoffier de l’Art Culinaire is the childhood home of the great chef and it just happens to be 10 minutes down the road from Lou Messugo.

portrait of Escoffier in Escoffier museum kitchen

Where is the Escoffier Museum?

The Escoffier Museum is a 4 story townhouse on a narrow, gently sloping pedestrian street in the picturesque old village of Villeneuve-Loubet – a “low” hill village a couple of kilometres inland from the modern part of Villeneuve-Loubet on the coast.

This is the house where Escoffier was born in 1846 and it celebrated its 50th anniversary as a museum on 2nd May 2016 (the very day I started my museum series, pity I didn’t know as it would have been an auspicious choice for a first visit!)

Who is Escoffier?

Escoffier is considered possibly the most important French chef, certainly of the 19th and early 20th century, as much for his culinary creations as for the developments he made in restaurant kitchens.

He reorganised staff introducing discipline to the kitchen. Escoffier brought in modern equipment and developed menus elevating the status of a cook to that of a respected profession.

He published a major work entitled Le Guide Culinaire which is still used as a cookbook and for reference today, and many of his innovations are also still highly respected not only in France but across the world.

Escoffier’s career

Escoffier’s illustrious career included time at the Savoy Hotel in London, The Paris Ritz, the Carlton in London and finally the London Ritz. In 1893 during his time at the Savoy he created the Pêche Melba in honour of the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba.  Another of his very famous creations was the poire belle-Hélène.  

Working at these top hotels Escoffier cooked for high society including royalty and he became known as “the king of chefs, the chef of kings”. He was the first ever chef to receive the Légion d’honneur.

kitchen scene at escoffier museum

The Escoffier Museum

The museum, which is the only museum solely dedicated to culinary art in France, has recently been renovated and despite being small and very traditional is pleasantly designed, well laid out and well-lit (no hands-on interactive displays here!)

Each room (on different levels) showcases various historical exhibits relating to French cuisine and of course to Escoffier’s life and works. The room set up as his study is the actual room of his birth and nowadays contains his desk.

desk in escoffier museum

Among the many items on display in the rooms set up as kitchens, I particularly enjoyed a beautiful traditional pottery service for bouillabaisse and had a chuckle over some pressure cookers (as a pressure cooker was only thing JF wanted on our wedding list, they have personal and almost romantic connotations for me, yes really!)

escoffier museum pressure cookers

There are explanations in English for most things in the museum though a knowledge of French will definitely help you get the most out of your visit.

provencal pottery escoffier museum

After the areas displaying kitchen items you walk through a sliding glass door into a refrigerated room full of chocolate and sugar sculptures (including the oldest sugar sculpture in the world, of a locomotive). The smell is heavenly (don’t go if you’re dieting or trying to stay off chocolate!)

sugar locomotive

All the creations are made by local pâtisserie chefs who can be seen in a giant photo recreating the Last Supper of Christ on one end wall.

sugar and chocolate art

The top floor of the museum is dedicated to menus: menus from banquets for Queen Elizabeth, other royals, film stars and high society, and from luxury hotels and ocean liners.

menus in shape of dress at escoffier museum

It’s fascinating to read about the extravagant dishes produced over the years for the rich and famous and how even menus for British royalty visiting New Zealand in the 1950s were written in French.

table setting with porcelain and crystal

Is the Escoffier Museum for everyone?

The Escoffier museum is great for anyone with an interest in gastronomy and/or French cuisine, aspiring cooks, professional chefs and foodies, but I’d say it’s also of value for those interested in social history.

display of kitchen in escoffier useum

It makes a delightful little visit out of the sun or rain for an hour or so (it doesn’t take long to see everything). However, I wouldn’t recommend it for young children. Though there is a small area where they can play educational games relating to food (all in French) this museum cannot be described as interactive and child-friendly.

It is also not suitable for wheelchair users as it is on several levels without a lift.

old kitchen utensils

Useful information

The Escoffier Museum is open every day from 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00 (19.00 in July and August).  It is closed on some public holidays and has restricted hours in December (best to check the website).

It costs 6€ for adults, 4€ for students and is free for under 11s.

For further details, check its website.

old kitchen with pots and jugs

The museum is located at 3 rue Auguste Escoffier in Villeneuve-Loubet which is a pedestrian street. There is plenty of parking in the free carparks surrounding the village.  It is also easy to get to by bus from Nice or Grasse on line 500 (Villeneuve-Loubet village stop) and line 23 from Antibes to La Colle sur Loup.

paintings of professional kitchens

Insider’s Tip:  if you go in June to September you get a free tasting of the famous Peach Melba dessert.

What do you think?  Have you been or would you like to visit the Escoffier Museum?

Related Reading:

7 favourite museums in Provence

Top 8 must-try foods from Provence

How to make French crêpes

Here’s a PIN for later!

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been fully updated for 2022

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