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The Life at Cagnes sur Mer

The Life at Cagnes sur Mer

We have seen the city change over the years. The population boom has meant that some neighborhoods have lost their old-world charm due to the destruction of the old houses, but it can be said that all the small buildings built everywhere have remained modest and have not destroyed the spirit. It is a welcoming little town that we experienced when we arrived in 1999. But, in our humble opinion, Cagnes is slowly reaching its limits and it is time to limit the growth of the town with its list of problems such as its trafic, parking and schools.

But hey, let’s stay positive!

We do have a splendid seafront great for a walk embellished with sculptures, gardens and a beautiful bike path, which goes between the racecourse and the small port of Cros de Cagnes. Families, athletes, Cagnois and tourists wander there on weekdays, weekends and throughout the year. Many activities are organized there through out summer and winter.

Cagnes sur Mer is not only about the sea. The city center, also has transformed over the years, it is the place where, every morning, our small shops and markets attract visitors for their quality products. In the market town, open for 90 years and renovated recently, a happy mix of tasty products in a warm atmosphere. We have our butcher, our fishmonger and many other attractions and in front of the city, the small producers present their local products (flowers, fruits, vegetables, honey and cheese).

Market days at Cros, Racecourse and Center: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, not to mention the Italian market. It is not just the food market in Cagnes: some pretty shops, many restaurants and other services are available. And since 2 years, we have our shopping center, for lovers of shopping, north of the city: the Polygone Riviera.

A great architectural success that brings together a large number of universal brands but also some very attractive personalized shops, restaurants, a casino and a cinema. A real moment of pleasure where everyone finds what they are looking for: while the adults sped on the credit card the children can play in the fountains and other dedicated spaces. All in an outdoor area, crossed by a small stream, the Malvan.

Cagnes sur Mer is also a host of sports and cultural clubs that offer the opportunity to learn, in all areas, progress.

The Fragonard Gardens, a paradise in a city where life is good!

Cagnes Sur Mer

Cagnes Sur Mer

When we looked for the house of our dreams to move down on the Côte d’Azur, we did not know of Cagnes sur Mer until we arrived in the city center from the exit of the motorway. And that’s not the best thing! One of the important criteria of chosing was the proximity of Nice airport and the central location on the coast. We found our pearl and got to know and love our new city which had 43,000 inhabitants in the year 2000 and 49,000 in 2017. Proof that there is good life!

Cagnes sur Mer, as its name suggests is a coastal town, which since 3.5km of pebbles extends between Saint Laurent du Var, Villeneuve Loubet, La Colle sur Loup and La Gaude, but especially between Nice and Antibes. A family beach, a seaside living all year with its restaurants, its small fishing port and the horse race course. We have had guests from the time when the seaside road was only a small path taken by the fishermen, a beach on which boats and nets were pulled. Since then, a beautiful busy avenue separates the few restaurants from the private beaches. The harbor is still active, though reduced for fishing but you can still see the sale of freshly caught fish in the morning. Water sports are available: the diving club and the traditional rowing boat club. You can also participate in a sea trip with Jean-Louis the fisherman.

Nothing is more pleasant than to stroll in the sun by walking along the sea front, to take the bike path that joins Nice on one side and Villeneuve Loubet on the other, whether by bike (possibility of rent), scooter or rollerblading. Before Villeneuve Loubet you can walk along the beach (that allows dogs) and on the other side of the road, the racecourse. It has existed for more than half a century and covers 60 hectares. Coming to the races is always a pretty sight, be it galloping, trotting or jumping. From the stands, in the midst of a colorful and excited crowd, you will feast on the vision of these beautiful horses led by the jockeys to the colored background, the blue of the Mediterranean. Make a bet on the race it adds a festive dimension and who knows, if you just bet right, your holiday may be paid for?

From the racecourse, you can also see the castle at the top of the old town. The medieval village, former bastion surrounded by walls still visible and at the top of which the lord of Cagnes built his castle in the year 1300 to defend against some invaders. This castle was completely transformed in 1620 into a beautiful house by Baron Grimaldi. The city acquired it in 1937 and created the municipal museum there in 1948.

Since then, besides the permanent collections and historical objects, the Grimaldi castle hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and concerts. In the permanent collections, you will cross the room called Suzy Solidor, a cabaret singer at the time. 40 portraits painted by famous artists are gathered there. From the visit of the castle, you can also visit a room with a ceiling painted giving the illusion of a vertiginous height. Why not climb up to the roof where there is a terrace for a 360 degree view of city, sea and mountains. Many painters have stayed in Cagnes sur Mer and in the medieval village.

Besides Renoir, our neighbor, we had Soutine, Modigliani, Derain, Yves Klein, Arman and so many others. The medieval village also knew hours of glory in the years 50/60. It was called the “little Montmartre” and was the rendezvous of artists from around the world: George Simenon, Brigitte Bardot, Greta Garbo, Georges Hulmer … Lose yourself in the alleys. Some houses are dated to the Middle Ages.

To finish by the place of the castle, lined with small restaurants. No cars, just the calm and the family atmosphere. But Cagnes sur Mer is also home of the Renoir museum, the modern city center and the new Polygone Riviera shopping center.

The Renoir Museum

The Renoir Museum

Auguste Renoir, like many painters was searching for the light of Provence and the Mediterranean. While visiting Cagnes sur Mer he fell in love with a huge estate (3 hectares) planted with olive and orange trees, on a hillside facing the medieval village. Living in the small farm (19th century) with his family. The heat of the south helped to calm his pain due to arthritis that overwhelmed him since he was 56 years old.
The estate was a family style property but Madame Renoir, Aline, wanted a large modern house. They opt for a neo-Provençal style, comfort and a artist’s studio. The construction finished and Renoir settled there in 1908 with their 3 children, Pierre, Jean and Claude.
The impressionist painter then began his “period Cagnoise”, unfortunately the last, because he died there on December 3, 1919 at the age of 78 years. This period is mostly inspired by the estate. The association of “friends of the museum” cut the olive trees so that they appeared in the paintings of the painter. He received his painter and sculptor friends, including Matisse, Modigliani, Rodin, Picasso.
He not only painted but also sculpted. But Renoir suffered, his illness was deforming his hands and he could no longer walk. He had a new workshop built in the garden and was taken to work in his armchair. His models had to attach brushes to his hands and he tirelessly painted because only painting soothes him and he had many order to fulfil.
In 1919, Renoir was at his worst, painting was hell but he wanted to paint until the very end. And it is in 1918/1919 that he will painted “the bathers”, which he considers himself as the summit of his art.
His son Claude inherited the estate. He turned the “lunch on the grass” in 1959 and lived there until 1960 before the city purchased the grounds. Today Renoir’s house is available to visit. Before its renovation and refurbishment a few years ago, we felt the soul of the painter. We saw his workshop, decorations even his armchair, a pallet and a few tubes of paint were placed next to it.
Some original paintings and sculptures of the artist tell us the world of Renoir: his family, his creative spirit, his friends. You can leave your car and take a 5 minute walk to arrive at the domain of Renoir. You will stroll through the park where the olive and orange trees grow several hundred years surrounding his sculptures.
You will understand what Renoir fell in love with, either from the garden or the view of the old town and the Mediterranean from the terrace. Renoir’s house is classified as a historic monument and labeled Heritage of the 20th century. Guided tours are organized, often on Sundays and in July, a few classical concerts and if you visit the estate during the Heritage Days in mid-September you will attend a show of yesteryear: a picnic in period dress!
Where to Eat?

Where to Eat?

Where to eat in Cagnes sur Mer? We no longer serve dinner for our holiday rentals but there are so many restaurants in Cagnes sur Mer!

This does not prevent you from enjoying the garden where you can use the barbecue, prepare a salad and enjoy them at home, using the dishes that are in your room. We also have at your disposal local pizza menus that you can order and that are delivered to us for you!

That said, a trip to the local restaurants while on vacation is a special moment that you will remember, or not, so we are at your disposal to advise you according to your tastes, your wallet, and criteria You will find that while eating at breakfast, relaxing at the edge of the swimming pool or socialising around a small aperitif, the subject of restaurants is very often evoked.

In these kind of discussions, you will know the great addresses of Cagnes sur Mer or locally. Of course, we do not know all the restaurants … the ones we suggest are ones we know personally, have tried and love and can adives places that other guest have enjoyed too.

The closest to us, “The Maestro”, is less than 10 minutes walk from the house its nice and practical. You will eat delicious pizzas cooked over a wood fire, but they offer much more on their menu.

Do you want to enjoy the seaside? Then you should go to Cros de Cagnes! We like to recommend “le Café Riviera” for its family atmosphere, nice terrace, and quality food at an affordable price. “Le Bistrot de la Marine” for its selection of fish and gourmais choices, enjoying on their nice protected terrace. Below the road, “La Bourride” his specialty (bourride) and the loaction of the restaurant just facing the fishing port, if you can have lunch outside, it’s the dream: calm and beautiful view … and many other places that are definitely worth visiting.

For the romantic side and old stones, take the free shuttle and lose yourself in the alleys of the medieval village to finish in one of those restaurants we can recommend: “Jimmy’s” at the castle square, with a simple and effective menu, very friendly staff and a terrace with magnificent views, “Les leases” at the entrance to the castle square with an intimate setting and a small terrace, great service and a refined menu. “Fleur de sel” a small restaurant in the descent of the village, “gastronomic and sublime” to quote (exact) from some guests to enjoy without moderation.

In the city center, without hesitation: “Chez David” the chef and service is excellent and the food plentiful. Certainly you are in the city center but the terrace is nice and inside, a cellar … to discover!

Feel free to tell us about your tastes and desires, we will help to guide you and we can arrange the reservation too. Good luck on your discovery and Bon appétit!