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.