12 Great Places For Contemporary Art in Provence
With its “painter’s light” and powerful landscapes, Provence was immortalized by Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh and other famous artists. However, the region is continually building its reputation as a magnet for art and creativity. From parks to vineyards to glass factories, here are 12 places to see contemporary art in Provence and near the French Riviera.
While some detractors may have yet to embrace LUMA, the 12-story Frank Gehry-designed tower, few can argue that the LUMA Foundation project has successfully converted abandoned railway lands into an attractive urban park and gathering place. Today the sparkling 15,000 m2 LUMA tower twists skyward from its circular base, surrounded by 11,000 stainless steel bricks that reflect the Provencal sun and sky. Discover why you should plan a visit to LUMA.
A contemporary art museum run by Yvon Lambert (French gallerist and collector). The Collection Lambert was created in 2000 when Lambert donated his large collection of major works from the 20th century. Since then, the exhibition has continued to expand. Today you can view the exhibition at the Hôtel de Caumont (Aix-en-Provence) and Hôtel de Montfaucon (Avignon).
Travel tip: book lunch or dinner at Le Violette, a restaurant that shares the courtyard with Collection Lambert. The food is fresh and delicious, and the setting, especially in the warmer months, is beautiful.
To learn more about scheduling your visit, please click here.
5 rue Violette
Open every day
Except Monday from 11 am to 6 pm.
July-August, open every day
From 11 am to 7 pm.
The Blachère Foundation was created in 2003 by Jean-Paul Blachère and is dedicated to the contemporary African art scene. It is the first contemporary art foundation which encourages the dissemination and promotion of contemporary art from Africa. The Blachère collection consists of 2,000 works today. Each year there is a new artist featured.
121 chemin de Coucourdon,
Pl. de la Gare,
This hamlet became one of 26 Commanderies of the Templar Knights. In 1311, control of the Commanderie de Peyrassol fell to the Order of the Knights of Malta until the French Revolution. Today, La Commanderie de Peyrassol is not only a successful Var vineyard producing 500,000 bottles of wine a year but is a fast-growing contemporary sculpture park.
La Commanderie de Peyrassol
RN 7 – 83340 Flassans-sur-Issole
Tel: +33 (0) 4 94 69 71 02
L’Isle sur la Sorgue:
Antiques, art, waterwheels, and shopping are reasons to visit the “Venice of Provence” – L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The busy town on the Sorgue River was once a fishing village. In addition to boutiques, galleries and the famous Sunday market, there are two places of note for contemporary art.
Campredon Centre d’art
20 rue du Docteur Tallet
Telephone: +33 04 90 38 17 41
Closed on Mondays
The Campredon art centre features rotating exhibitions of emerging artists, workshops, and lectures in an 18th-century mansion. Hôtel Donadeï de Campredon was built as a private residence in 1746 for Charles-Joseph de Campredon. Since 1979, a portion of the structure has been a French Historic Monument. The museum includes a permanent collection devoted to the works of locally-born poet René Char.
Fondation Villa Datris
7 Avenue des Quatre Otages
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 95 23 70
Entry is free.
Hours and opening days vary throughout the year.
In 2011, contemporary art lovers Danièle Kapel-Marcovici and Tristan Fourtine established a foundation in a stately 19th-century mansion on the banks of the Sorgue. The restoration project retained original architectural elements to unite historical features with modern sculptures and other works. Access to the Villa Datris (a combination of their names) is free. The annual exhibitions typically run from the end of May through October.
Lacoste is a well-preserved village that sits on a mountain ridge with great views to the east across a valley filled with vineyards and orchards to Bonnieux and the Grand Luberon Mountains. At the top of the village are the ruins of the castle of the Marquis de Sade, now owned by Pierre Cardin. In 1958, an American painter named Bernard Pfriem came to Lacoste and fell in love with the village. He bought a house, then bought a few more and began to restore them. In 1970, he started the Lacoste School of Arts, which was taken over in 2002 by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), based in Georgia.
Le Puy Sainte-Reparade:
Located just outside of Aix-en-Provence, Château La Coste is a 600-acre organic winery and art centre in Le Puy-Sainte-Reparade owned by Patrick McKillen. This Irish art collector has created a centre dedicated to wine, art and architecture. Impressive concrete gates (from superstar architect Tadao Ando) mark the entrance of the domaine. The beautiful Art Centre (also by T. Ando), a concrete and glass building surrounded by a shallow pool of water, welcomes the visitor. A giant steel and bronze spider (Crouching Spider by Louise Bourgeois) stands guard in the pool. This vineyard is a great place to spend the afternoon. Unveiled in May 2022, Bob Dylan’s Rail Car sculpture is now a permanent exhibit on the winery’s Art and Architecture Trail.
Château La Coste
2750 Route De La Cride,
13610 Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade
The Pierre-Salinger Museum was created in 2005 to honor Pierre Salinger’s memory. Pierre Salinger was a renowned journalist and White House spokesman who later became the head of the press campaign for JFK. The exhibition includes photographs from his life and was created with news and historical facts.
The Fondation Salinger at La Bastide Rose (website)
99 Chemin des Croupières
84250 Le Thor
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 02 14 33
Annual exhibitions occur in the Parc de la Bastide and the Pierre Salinger Museum, organized by the Poppy and Pierre Salinger Foundation.
Originally constructed in 1694 as a private mansion (hôtel particulier) for la Compagnie du Cap Nègre, the building passed through several owners before Jules Cantini purchased the building in the mid-19th century. Cantini was a marble importer and thus involved in constructing many religious and other sites in Marseille. He was also a lover of the arts. He donated the house to the city in 1916. The Musée Cantini has a permanent collection of “modern” artworks from the 20th century (1900 to 1960). This small museum is located in what was once a private mansion built in 1694. Jules Cantini, a marble importer and final homeowner, donated the building to the city in 1916.
19 rue Grignan, Marseille
Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday 10-19h. Closed Mondays.
Telephone: +33 (0)4 91 54 77 75
Tucked into the mountains north of Nice, next to Roure, is Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein. This garden setting mixes exotic trees, rare flowers, and “no-made” art in a mountain park overlooking the wild Tinel Valley—a perfect day trip for nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike.
L’Arboretum Marcel Kroënlein
1295, Route Raymond Durbec
St. Paul de Vence:
Make sure to visit the Fondation Maeght, one of Europe’s largest collections of contemporary art. Art dealer Aimé Maeght and his wife Marguerite created the vision for this centre for the public to view modern art in many forms – painting, sculpture and graphic design. The permanent collection includes Braque, Calder, Chagall, Giacometti, Leger and Miró pieces. There are temporary exhibitions as well. Fondation Maeght is open all year.
623, chemin des Gardettes
06570 Saint Paul de Vence
Telephone: +33 (0)4 93 32 81 63