Captivating Cote d’ Azur: Art Along the French Riviera

April 30-May 8, 2019

“I…wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime.” – Henri Matisse

Join us this spring on the French Riviera, or Côte D’Azur, to experience the joy and light Matisse so loved. This magnetic coastline has attracted and inspired artists and socialites alike for over a century. Immerse yourself in exploration of the landscapes and places that inspired some of the world’s most famous artists as you walk in the footsteps of the great masters–Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Léger, Bonnard and Picasso.

The specially-curated program, led by Yale Professor of French, Howard Bloch, and his wife, Ellen Handler Spitz, Professor of Visual Arts, will lead you through a stimulating experience of sight, sound and taste. Under the guidance of your professors, deepen your appreciation for the connections between artist, landscape and his works. Take in the sparkling Mediterranean and rugged coastline of the Côte d’Azur, sip a champagne cocktail at the Villa Ephrussi Estate and Gardens overlooking the bays of Villefranche and Beaulieu-sur-Mert. Highlights of this trip include the outstanding collections at the Matisse, Chagall and Picasso Museums, a private painting workshop and exclusive exchanges with curators and directors from selected museums.

Your pied à terre is well-located in the seaside port of Nice. You will quickly see why this city, with its exceptional climate, baroque to Belle Epoque architecture, and famous seaside promenade, has attracted artists and aristocrats alike. You will stay in the Hôtel Brice Garden, just steps away from the famous sea front, the Promenade des Anglais and the expansive beach.

travel deeper:

guide expert

R. Howard Bloch Ellen Handler Spitz

R. Howard Bloch is Sterling Professor of French at Yale University. He was the founding Director of the Humanities Program and regularly teaches courses on medieval and modern literature, as well as on the Western tradition. Professor Bloch is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and an Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters. He is also the author of numerous award-winning books on medieval and modern French literature and art, including A Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry and, most recently, One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made us Modern. He looks forward to sharing with participants his knowledge of the
Impressionist painters in the south of France along with the literature and films of the region like “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring.”





Ellen Handler Spitz is a writer, lecturer, and scholar who currently holds the
Honors College Professorship of Visual Arts at University of Maryland, Baltimore
County, where she has taught interdisciplinary seminars in aesthetics, literature,
psychology, and the visual arts since 2001. Among her publications are Art and
Psyche, Image and Insight, Museums of the Mind, and Inside Picture Books, as well
as numerous articles, chapters, and reviews in venues ranging from scholarly journals to public news forums, such as The New York Times Book Review. She has held fellowships at prominent institutions, among which are the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), the Center for Children and Childhood Studies (Rutgers University), the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. She is excited to be sharing with participants her reflections on Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, and other artists inspired by the unique light, atmosphere, and intensely saturated colors of the region.


U.S. Tuesday, April 30
Depart the U.S. for Nice, France.

NICE Wednesday, May 1
Upon arrival in Nice, transfer to your hotel. You will quickly see why this city, with its exceptional climate, Baroque to Belle Epoque architecture, and famous seaside promenade, has been a mecca for luminaries and high society for many decades. Later in the evening, gather with fellow travelers for a welcome reception and dinner. (R/D)

NICE Thursday, May 2
Start your morning with a lecture to introduce you to the artists who were inspired by the light and color of the French Riviera. During a walking tour of Nice, follow in the footsteps of Matisse and discover the seascapes and sunlight that influenced him for so many years. See the Promenade des Anglais, where the first major Matisse exhibition was held in 1946. Finish the day at the Marc Chagall Museum, created during the artist’s lifetime and highlighting his spiritual inspiration. The museum contains the largest collection of Chagall’s works set in a peaceful garden in the suburbs of Nice. (B)

Tour the Maeght Foundation and admire a fascinating collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and mosaics that were assembled by art collectors Aimé and Marguerite Maeght in 1964. Many of the works were designed specifically for the site by their artist friends. After lunch in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, continue to the village of Vence to view the breathtaking Matisse chapel and admire how the simple white walls are bathed in intense colors as the sunlight streams through the stained glass. (B/L)

After a morning lecture on the genius of Pablo Picasso, drive to the balmy town of Antibes to visit the stunning Musée Picasso set dramatically above the rocky Mediterranean shores in a former château. Then depart for Vallauris, a center of contemporary ceramics revived by Picasso. His masterpiece, War and Peace, is displayed here. Next, drive just north of Cannes to Le Cannet. For those who choose, visit the first museum dedicated to the work of Bonnard. Then walk the town, past Bonnard’s home and his favorite places of inspiration such as the Canal de la Siagne (now a covered trail). Otherwise, take a short drive down to Cannes and explore this glamorous city as it prepares for the 72nd annual Film Festival occurring later in the month. Return to Nice to enjoy a dinner as a group. (B/D)

After a morning lecture on Fauvism, Cubism and Matisse, visit the Matisse Museum which displays his striking canvasses, bronze sculpture, and engraved works. Then, depart for Saint-Jean-CapFerrat. Take a walk along this dramatic coastline, the inspiration for many artists who visited. Complete your day with a visit to the beautiful Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the rose-colored seaside estate was constructed for Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild. Weather permitting, enjoy a reception in the famous Ephrussi gardens. (B/R)

Take a 30-minute drive to Biot this morning. Tour the Fernand Léger Museum, featuring large-scale architectural ceramic murals, done in Léger’s own interpretation of Cubism, along with many other paintings, sculptures, and sketches. After lunch on your own, discover the charming hill-top medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes. Stroll the winding streets as Renoir, Modigliani, and Klein once did. (B)

NICE Tuesday, May 7
Start your day with a morning wrap-up session that reflects upon your experience on the Riviera. Then, put your artistic skills to the test with a private painting workshop with a local artist. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure or make the most of your final afternoon in Nice. Toast your journey at a farewell reception and dinner. (B/R/D)

NICE/U.S. Wednesday, May 8
Transfer to Nice Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

trip details

Hôtel Brice Garden Nice is a four-star hotel ideally located in central Nice. The property is just steps away from the famous Promenade des Anglais, the beaches and classic streets lined with shops and restaurants. Stylish rooms feature minibars, flat screen TVs, modern bathrooms and free Wi-Fi. A charming garden makes for an enchanting oasis within the city center

this trip

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