Tucked inland between Cannes and Antibes the small town of Vallauris Golfe-Juan reveals its charm to those who are prepared to look beyond a few shabby buildings.
For those in the know Vallauris is synonymous with Pablo Picasso who lived here for seven years. The artists moved here in 1948 to learn the secrets of local pottery makers who had been perfecting their craft since the 17th century.
Picasso single-handedly revived the dwindling craft as numerous visitors and artist friends followed him to this quiet backwater town to see and learn about the local art of ceramics. While in Vallauris, Picasso created a monumental work “War and Peace” that can be seen in the chapel of the Castle National Museum. Do not miss his other masterpiece, the bronze statue “Man with a Sheep” (“L'homme de mouton”) donated to the town. Walk along the avenue Georges Clemenceau to see lovely pottery shops and artisan workshops, some of which invite visitors to see how local ceramics are made.
|Man with a Sheep by Picasso|
Vallauris is also famous for the fragrant bitter orange that grows here. It is used for making delicious traditional jams and essential oil known as Néroli that is utilized in the French perfume industry. If you are visiting in May you can enjoy the local Orange blossom festival and see how the oil is made. Another colourful festival that is worth a visit is Fête des paysans in August during which decorated farm tracks take over the town’s streets.
|Hstoric re-enactment in Golfe-Juan|
A short walk from the old town is the seaside resort of Golfe-Juan with its beautiful sandy beaches where you can stroll or perfect your tan. This area is well known for being one of the warmest and most sheltered on the Mediterranean coast. Napoleon made this small corner of the Riviera part of the French history annals by disembarking here in March 1, 1815, intent on re-conquering France. Every year the locals remember that day in a spectacular historic re-enactment.
Photos by: Florian Pépellin/CC, Ola Berglund/Flickr, Alessandro Baffa/Flickr.