This week I popped into the Picasso Museum Antibes with my parents who were visiting from England. They’ve been to stay many times and have seen much that the Riviera has to offer but had never been to the Picasso Museum, nor had I for that matter. As enthusiastic history of art students (they have been studying for a few years and have travelled to many cities purely for the art) they jumped at my suggestion to go there and I think I probably enjoyed it more because of their knowledge than had I gone alone (more on this later).
The Picasso Museum is housed in an impressively positioned castle on the rampart walls of Antibes with views looking over the port, Salis bay, the Cap d’Antibes and out to sea. Its location is hard to beat and paying the small entrance fee for the views alone, even if you’re not massively interested in the art, is worth it I think. It’s also worth it for the actual building which has been sympathetically transformed into a bright well-lit gallery from a (no doubt dark) castle with an ancient history. Originally a residence for Bishops in the Middles Ages, the château became the home of the Grimaldi family in 1385 giving it its name Château Grimaldi. Over the years it was successively the residence of the King’s Governor, the Town Hall, military barracks and from 1925 a historical museum having been bought by the city of Antibes for this purpose.
Picasso’s link to the building came about when he visited the museum in 1945 and was offered space on the second floor to use as a studio. All in all he only spent a few months in Antibes in 1946 but it was a happy time, full of renewed hope and enthusiasm for life after the end of the Second World War and he produced numerous works of art during this short period. He donated 23 paintings and 44 drawings to Antibes on his departure which became the basis of the collection for the museum dedicated to him some 20 years later. In the late 1940s the museum held several exhibitions of Picasso’s work but it wasn’t until December 1966 that the Château Grimaldi officially became the Picasso Museum, thereby becoming the first museum in the world dedicated to his work.
Nowadays Picasso’s work is displayed on the top floor, in the space that was his studio, leaving the ground and first floor for other modern artists and temporary exhibitions. If you’re short of time and want to see Picasso’s work above all head straight to the top and work downwards. The collection is not large and for an amateur like me doesn’t contain any famous pieces. Don’t go expecting to see recognisable masterpieces or you’ll be disappointed.
Do go however for the lovely feeling of the place; the glimpses of azure sea through the narrow windows, the beautifully worn terracotta tiles (different shapes in every room) and the details in the building such as carvings around door frames and old beams. And do go of course for the lesser known but rather lovely works (mainly) depicting sea urchins, fish, octopus and mythical creatures such as fauns and centaurs. Among the other rooms is one displaying some of his ceramics and one dedicated to photos of Picasso in his studio with his friends, in scenes of ordinary life. I was struck by how contemporary they looked despite being nearly 70 years old.
The museum is small and an hour’s visit is sufficient to see everything particularly as although there are information panels in each room giving an overview of the work on display (in French, English and Italian), there are no audioguides available and no leaflets either. If you like to know detail about the works of art you’re seeing then you may be frustrated, but if like me you just enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of the art then I think you’ll enjoy it, however this time I was able to benefit from my parents’ greater knowledge as well.
As I mentioned above, the location of the museum is one enormous drawcard and one of the loveliest things to do is to soak up the sun and enjoy the views from the sculpture garden that looks out over the Mediterranean sea. Look left over the port and on towards Nice, right over Salis bay to Cap d’Antibes and straight for a never-ending vision of blue, dotted with yachts and sailing dinghies. In the garden there are sculptures by several different artists including Mirό.
The Musée Picasso is closed on Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25th December. It is also closed over lunch between 12-2 pm for most of the year, only open non-stop from mid June to mid September. Opening hours are 10-12, 2-6 pm. Tickets are sold until 30 mins before closing times.
Since its recent refurbishment it is fully accessible (and free) for wheelchair users. Tickets cost 6€ full price, 3€ students & over 65 and free for under 18. For detailed information check the Antibes website (in French). The museum doesn’t have its own website (but it does have a reasonably well stocked giftshop!)
Why not PIN it!
I had no idea that there was a Picasso museum in Antibes!
How lovely that your parents are art lovers, going to a museum like this with them is certainly different than going by yourself 😀
Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes
Glad to hear it Emma.
Indeed Karen, it is!
It’s a lovely place to visit for so many reasons.
It really is a lovely location and happy you liked my recommendation.
The location of the museum is almost as impressive as Picasso’s work! This sounds like a really interesting place to visit, thanks for the recommendation. #MondayEscapes
What a superb spot Phoebe, just wonderful. Sounds like it’s an interesting place to visit too with Picasso and the newer artists work featured. Love the old brick against the bright blue sky 🙂
It looks a fantastic attraction in a rather beautiful place! x
I LOVE Picasso! We have actually been here, and it’s just as beautiful as I remember it! 🙂 #mondayescapes
Yes I agree, you can just let your imagination run wild.
With winter coming I can see why you’d feel like that Birgit, but another good thing about this museum is it’s a cool place to get away from the intense summer heat too.
It is! 🙂
Oh yes, it can be very windy out on the terrace!
The Côte d’Azur lends itself to many stunning settings, we are very lucky here!
What a stunning setting for the museum, I am quite envious!
We really enjoyed our visit and the views from the castle were great. The wind was quite something too.
What a beautiful setting , the museum looks amazing.
What a beautiful setting for a museum – I’d be there just for the view x x
Wow! What an incredible beautiful setting. I love art, but I think I would spend most of my time in the garden just enjoying the sunshine and beautiful views over the ocean. (It’s getting winter on my side of the world and I’m feeling cold, so maybe that’s another reason why it’s particularly attractive to me right now 🙂
I never knew there was a Picasso Museum in the Antibes! I wouldn’t mind not having all the audio equipment etc. Sometimes it’s just nice to stop and stare.
There were some lovely drawings and paintings there Elizabeth, but photography wasn’t allowed so I thought I better not take any photos; shame 🙁
When are you coming Clare?!!
Come and stay at Lou Messugo Ruth and you can leave your husband by the pool while I show you some galleries!!
Another reason to holiday at Lou Messugo Jen!!!
It sure is Kara!
I’m glad they have that effect…Have a great time in France, next time come to Lou Messugo!
Yes it’s a lovely one! No need to appreciate art to appreciate the sea.
What a fabulous building and amazing views…I can imagine Picasso was much inspired having his studio in such a stunning location. I’d be really interested to see some of his lesser known work. Thanks for sharing on #citytripping
what a great spot and such a super location for an art studio. I’m always keen on a Picasso museum so this would definitely be high up on my list.
How cool is having parents like that? My Dad and I are history lovers and it feels great when you talk with somebody who knows more than you about certain topics. I would like to travel around the South of France visiting several art museums. I will have to convince my husband though (he is not an art fan).
This would be right up my street. I LOVE things like this.
It looks like a fascinating place to visit – the view from the window is specatacular
Your photos always make me want to go on holiday – they really show the beautiful weather so well. We are going to France in just a few weeks!
I have to admit that I’m not much into art but the view from that museum is something I’d definitely enjoy! Fabulous!
You’ve been everywhere on the Riviera Tanja!
Luckily the views are lovely as photos aren’t allowed of the art works and I like to have lots of photos in my posts!
What a gorgeous spot – the views and the building are amazing, the art seems almost a bonus! #citytripping
nice photos! I visited this museum a few years ago:) #city tripping
He isn’t my favourite either Erica, but it’s a lovely place to while away some time and there are some lovely painting and sketches here.
The setting really is quite stunning Corinna
Thank you Moy 🙂
I love visiting art galleries and used to go often pre child days. Whilst Picasso isn’t my favourite artist by a long way, I’d like to visit this gallery.
Couldn’t agree with you more. We visited in October and loved it.
Really enjoy your blog.