Destination: France: Provence
While visiting the charming town of Arles, one of Provence’s most exciting, don’t miss the Musée Réattu (10 rue du Grand-Prieuré; 33-4-90-82-29-03), featuring a small collection of works by Leger, Dufy and Gauguin, plus paintings and drawings donated by the Picasso family to the city. For a crash course in regional folklore and ancient history, see the Musée d’Arles et de la Provence Antique (Ave. de la Première Division Franciase Libre; 33-4-90-18-88-88), a snazzy modern building devoted to the city’s prehistory and artifacts from the region’s classical era. The Museon Arlaten (29 Rue de la République; 33-4-90-93-58-11), meanwhile, displays fashion collections from Provence and rural objects. Of course the famous Amphithéâtre (Les Arènes), which still hosts bull-fights, remains the city’s great classical monument and is one of ts top attractions.
Paul Cézanne’s Lauves atelier is impeccably preserved and feels as though Cézanne might have just gone downstairs for stroll. There are all the familiar sights form his still lifes: chairs, tables and palettes dabbed with vermillion, yellow ochre, emerald and ultramarine, plus a few overcoats hung on a peg. On the wooden shelf, you find an array of all the familiar porcelain crockery: everything from the ginger jar, blue carafe and the plaster cupid to the three skulls and Persian rug found in his still-lifes.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs et de la Modernité
This region’s Art Deco Furniture Museum housed in a medieval castle featuring over 800 spectacular works from the 1920s and ‘30s by masters including Chareau, Ruhlmann, Mallet-Stevens, Eileen Gray, and Klimt. Don’t miss the « waterlily » suite by Louis Majorelle, decked out in endless variations of the flower in bronze and walnut, and a sunken bath lined with sculptures. Visits by appointment only.
Another must-stop for lovers of fine art, this museum hosts top-notch seasonal exhibits. The museum’s permanent collection comprises works by mostly French painters, spanning the 16th-20th centuries, as well as different schools of Dutch, Flemish and Italian art. The Granet also displays eight paintings by Cézanne.
Musée International de la Parfumerie (International Perfume Museum)
Opened in October 2008, this museum is located in the heart of Grasse’s Old Town. The contemporary, multilevel exhibition space is filled with an extraordinary collection of over 5,000 rare pieces, including Marie Antoinette’s precious nécessaire (a brass and wooden travel case that held her gilded vials of balms and lotions); a Japanese Kô Dô, an ancient guessing game that dates back to the 6th century, using incense of rare types of woods; and lovely Deco vintage perfume bottles by Lalique and Hector Guimard. There are also fascinating exhibits on the techniques of perfume production, from antiquity to today’s most popular designer perfumes.
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