Cagnes sur Mer
Cagnes-sur-Mer is a lovely medieval village convenient to Nice, Cannes, and Monaco, and is relatively unspoiled. It was one of Renoir's favorite places, and he lived there at Les Collettes during the end of his life, when he painted by tying his paintbrush to his hand.
The city is both quaint and blessed with a peculiar sophistication appropriate to part of the Riviera, with a large racetrack, the Hippodrome de la Cote d'Azur, and excellent art museums scattered around. In Cagnes-sur-Mer, the memory of the past lives in the narrow streets, the arched passthroughs, quiet squares filled with blooming flowers, ancient churches, and the imposing Grimaldi's fortress, doing duty today as a museum.
Cagnes-sur-Mer is a wonderful place to shop through outdoor markets, little stores, and antique and painting shops. You'll find fruit and vegetable markets every day except Monday, and antiques markets every Friday. Painters at Cros de Cagnes with a view on the ocean paint and sell their works all day on Saturday. If you keep your eyes and mind open, you may find unexpected treasures you'd never find elsewhere.
Other things to do
With places to go like the Olive Tree Museum, the Suzy Solidor Gallery and Property, the Mediterranean Modern Arts Museum, the Maison des Artists, and the Notre Dame de Protection chapel, you'll always have something new to see. But the Chateau Museum is something special.
Owned by Raynier Grimaldi of Monaco and Cagnes in 1309, it was a fortified castle in the Provencal style, and later became a fine residence in the 18th century. It now shelters a variety of museums and other attractions. The Olive Tree Museum takes up the five low arched rooms on the ground floor, while the first floor houses the Suzy Solidor collection – forty portraits of Solidor by other famous painters. The community room is the Salle Carlone, famed for its beautiful ceiling fresco. And on the second floor you'll find the larger rooms for temporary exhibitions. The best part of the Chateau is the amazing view; from the top floors, you can see everything around you, from seashore to countryside. Check with the tourism bureau to make certain you can visit at your planned time.
Another very special place to visit is the Domaine Renoir, where the artist lived and, at last, died in the home he loved. You'll see the beauty of the garden he looked out on, with hundred year old olive trees, orange trees that bloom all year, and wildflowers. The décor remains just as it was when Renoir was here, and eleven of his best paintings are still on display here.
At the Cote d'Azur Hippodrom, three race sessions per week go off. Races are steeplechase, harness race, and night trotting during the summer. This is the first provincial racecourse to achieve international fame. In addition to the racing, you'll find two scenic restaurants here and a bar as well as other activities, and during the summer race season, you can take advantage of a babysitting service with playground.
Where to stay
The best place in town to stay is the Hotel le Grimaldi, with a central location. Rooms facing onto the main square in town have breathtaking views, and it's very clean and beautifully decorated. The only problem is that it's difficult to find parking close in to the hotel; however, that's just an excuse to wander through the town.