Nice, Other French Riviera Towns Display Their Rich Artistic History

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- Nice alone boasts at least 12 museums.

These include the Marc Chagall National Museum, with its 17 canvasses in a series called "Biblical Message"; the Matisse Museum, next to the Roman amphitheater in Cimiez; the Jules Cheret Museum of Fine Arts, with works by Fragonard, Renoir, Degas and Picasso, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, tracing the history of European and American avant-garde artists from the 1960s on and displaying works by Christo, Lichtenstein and Warhol, among others.

Almost every town along the Riviera and in the hills above has at least one museum, historical cathedral or other buildings of aesthetic interest.

Above all, along the way, one can view the colorful and brilliant works of Matisse, Leger, Renoir and Dufy in the places where they lived and painted.

Highlights include:

* St.-Paul-de-Vence. Maeght Foundation collection includes Arp, Bonnard, Calder, Chagall, Giacommetti, Kandinsky, Leger, Matisse and Miro.

* Vence. Matisse Chapel, the artist's final masterpiece.

* Cagnes-sur-Mer. In Haute-Cagnes, the Chateau-Musee, including modern Mediterranean art; in Cagnes-Ville, the Renoir Museum in Les Collettes, Renoir's former home.

* Biot. Leger Museum and glass factories.

* Antibes. Picasso Museum in the Chateau Grimaldi.

* Villefranche. Cocteau Chapel.

* Menton. Municipal Museum and Cocteau Hall.

* St.-Tropez. Musee de l'Annonciade, the collection includes Bonnard, Matisse, Braque, Dufy, Utrillo, Seurat, Derain and Maillol.

For details, contact the French Tourist Office on the East Coast at (202) 293-1673; in Chicago at (312) 751-7800, or in California at (310) 271-6665.

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