Enjoy this Virtual Art Tour of Cotignac in the Var
Cotignac is a small but lively village in the Var region with a rich and fascinating history that goes right back to medieval times. It is an ‘open village’ that already provides a colourful history, but for lovers of art, there is far more than meets the eye, as Cotignac attracted many well-known artists worldwide.
The imposing cliff face that overlooks the village below was once a waterfall before being diverted by the intrepid villagers many centuries ago. As a result, the cliff face played home to many of the inhabitants in ancient times and still has many inhabited rock dwellings today.
Behind the Hotel de Ville are the impressive old olive presses set into the cliff. These fabulous old stone presses served the old cooperative and signal the start of a walking tour up along the cliff face. You can visit the ancient cave dwellings set high up into the cliffs and get a lovely view of the village and the valley beyond.
Art in Cotignac
On this walking tour, which is the oldest part of the village, you will find the former home of Jean Aréne, one of the most famous artists from the region. Jean also persuaded his fellow artist friends to come to Cotignac, including Avril, who is still very active despite being in his nineties. It shows what countryside living can do for your health!
On the hill above and behind the waterfall is the Chapel St Martin which has a history dating back to the 9th century. During recent renovations by the Mairie, a sword was found buried in the chapel dating back to the twelfth century. This sword is now preserved and on display in the foyer of the Hotel de Ville (the village council office).
If you visit the Hotel de Ville, have a peek upstairs in the hallway where a painting by Uzelac hangs. The Serbian artist, who lived in Paris, was an avant-garde painter and quite a character. It speaks to the creative narrative of Cotignac that, by reputation, Uzelac gave this painting to the Mairie in lieu of paying some of his land taxes.
Further towards the centre of the village is the Place de L’Eglise, where one of the side chapels of the St Peter’s church is now home to the Cercle des Arts, an exhibition space for local artists. This space has a broad palette with ever-changing exhibits from the local artists and shows the commitment that the Mairie has towards stimulating the local art scene.
Near the bottom of the Cours Gambetta, past the many colourful restaurants, bars and cafés we find the Centre d’Art La Falaise above the Mirabeau boutique. This space was recently renovated as an art exhibition space drawing well-known artists. It was well worth a visit for the impressive art exhibits and the history of the building itself, which served as a nunnery before becoming a chapel, restaurant, and cinema before being abandoned for many years.
Among the cafés at the top of the Cours Gambetta is La Galerie, an art gallery run by Simon Pidgeon. Its twin gallery, Galerie bis, is at the bottom of the Cours at the entrance to the village. Galerie bis is owned by Simon’s husband, John Bennett, and together these galleries have an eclectic mix of art, objects and furniture from classic to modern, post-modern and contemporary. At any time, there are over 300 works available, and they are delighted to help you source a specific piece and offer a personalized service.
Cotignac is well worth a visit for the art aficionado. Its rich history and vibrant, year-round markets, festivals and events complement the local artisan shops, many art exhibitions, and hidden treasures to be unearthed.
Cotignac’s Art Addresses
Centre d’Art La Falaise
5 Cours Gambetta
Telephone: +33 (0)4 94 59 28 76
Closed Mondays and Thursdays
37 Cours Gambetta
Telephone: +33 (0)6 18 28 43 59
2 Bis Cours Gambetta
Telephone: +33 (0)6 04 52 17 05
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org