Colours of the Cote d’Azur

Prices from £1,995


5 Nov 2019 - 11 Nov 2019
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 19NICE
With: Dr Kathy McLauchlan


Prices from £1,995
Single Supplement: £245
Deposit: £200

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In 1887 the poet Stéphen Liégeard invented the term Côte d’Azur, referring to the stretch of coastline between Toulon and San Remo. He thus baptised an earthly paradise which for its natural beauty, sparkling luminosity and magical colours – above all the inimitable eponymous hue of this part of the Mediterranean – is hard to beat. Since the nineteenth century the land of the French Riviera has been a favourite destination of aristocratic, literati and glitterati visitors alike: Queen Victoria, Edith Wharton, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson have been among the leading ladies here. It is no wonder that the Côte d’Azur became such a source of inspiration to generations of painters who flocked here to discover and celebrate the artistic qualities of the land. We will be exploring some of the major movements of twentieth-century art, from Pointillism and Post-Impressionism to Fauvism, Cubism and beyond, following in the footsteps of some of the greatest twentieth-century artists – Chagall, Cocteau, Leger, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Signac – all of whom captured the Côte d’Azur’s allure more vividly than any modern holiday brochure could ever hope to achieve. On top of the artistic highlights, the region’s caressing Mediterranean warmth, its lush scented flora and a blend of French savoir vivre with Italian flair make this Art Pursuits Abroad Study Tour an unforgettable experience.


Dr Kathy McLauchlan is course director of three Year Courses at the V&A Museum. After graduating from Oxford she obtained her PhD from the Courtauld Institute with a thesis on the work of students at the French Academy in Rome. Kathy lectures widely to adult audiences.

DAY 1:

Morning flight at 09.55 with British Airways from London Heathrow to Nice. Visit the Musée des Beaux Arts, with works by artists ranging from the Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who hailed from the nearby town of Grasse, to the Fauvist designer Raoul Dufy.

DAY 2:

Coach excursion to Menton, near the French-Italian border. With a climate even milder than the rest of the Côte d’Azur, this town is dedicated to the filmmaker, writer and designer Jean Cocteau who became an honorary citizen of Menton in 1958. In addition to a fascinating museum with Cocteau’s works, the town hall’s Salle des Mariages and the interiors of the seventeenth-century harbour fort are the result of this all-round artistic genius.

DAY 3:

Our first destination today is the fortified hill town St Paul de Vence where we shall explore the remarkable Fondation Maeght, an outstanding private art collection, amassed by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght who knew all the artists working along the Côte d’Azur. In the nearby market town of Vence, Matisse designed and decorated the Chapelle du Rosaire – from stained glass and tiled murals to liturgical vestments. From there continue to the beautiful village of Biot, home to the Musée National Fernand Léger, where a stunning collection of over 300 of his works documents Léger’s fifty-year-long career.

DAY 4:

An all-day coach excursion starts at Cagnes-sur-Mer where we will enjoy a visit to the house, studios and gardens of Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir: it is here where the artist spent the last twelve years of his life and his presence remains tangible to this day. From Cagnes return to Nice to visit two wonderful museums in the upper crust suburb of Cimiez: a seventeenth-century villa is dedicated to the glowing Mediterranean colours of Henri Matisse, while the light-filled halls of the purpose-built Musée Chagall house this artist’s captivating Biblical Messages.

DAY 5:

In 1892 St Tropez became the home of pointillist Paul Signac who, together with friends like Matisse, Seurat, Dufy and Vlaminck, quickly turned the once remote and unassuming fishing village into a bohemian hothouse. Since the 1950s St Tropez has been a centre for celebrity spotting, but our visit will focus on the former harbour chapel, now the Musée de l’Annonciade, which houses one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and Fauvist works. From Antibes Picasso went to live at nearby Vallauris for nearly ten years where he decorated the interior of the mediaeval chapel with his monumental murals of War and Peace. During the same period the Spanish genius, inspired by traditional local pottery, took up working in clay and the local museum contains an outstanding display of his ceramic creations.

DAY 6:

Spend the morning in and around Antibes dedicated to Pablo Picasso: he had his studio of 1946 in the town’s sixteenth-century Château Grimaldi – today the Musée Picasso with twenty-three of his paintings of that period forming the heart of the collection. Before returning to Nice we will be stopping at Le Cannet to enjoy the colourful works of Nabis painter Pierre Bonnard who resided here from 1922 until his death in 1947.

DAY 7:

By coach to Villa Ephrussi Rothschild, situated in a stunning location on the Cap Ferrat peninsula to the east of Nice. Here we will explore the estate’s wonderful gardens as well as a collection of rare porcelain, old master paintings and antique furniture (the whim of a seriously wealthy heiress). After lunch in Villefranche and a brief visit to the Chapel Cocteau, continue to Nice airport for a mid-afternoon flight scheduled to land at London Heathrow at 17.05.


Please note that this tour involves a fair amount of walking across uneven ground. You must be fit and surefooted to make the most of this tour. If you would like to find out more about the physical ‘difficulty level’ of the tour, please ring or email us.


Twin/double share: £1995 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £245
Price of the tour without flights: £1885
Deposit: £300


  • Scheduled return flights (economy class) with British Airways
  • Transfers and excursions in Nice by private coach
  • Six nights bed and breakfast in a locally-rated four-star hotel
  • 3 dinners, 1 lunch
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the lecturers and a local tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters

Splendid Hotel and Spa Nice

Well-placed in a quiet residential part of central Nice, a five-minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais. Bar and roof-top restaurant. Rooms are deluxe rooms and have a terrace or balcony, tea and coffee making facilities, safe, bathrobe, cable TV, iron, hairdryer and a minibar.