Must-See Places of Silence on the Côte d’Azur, France
Côte d’Azur, or as it’s more commonly referred to -the French Riviera- is well-known as a place of glamour and beauty. Few people know that the region is also home to some of France’s most majestic spiritual buildings. Places where a busy career-driven professional or an overworked caretaker can spend a couple of days of quiet sightseeing days.
Keep reading to find out some of these quiet refuges, places of silence in the Côte d’Azur and the Alpes Maritimes.
Abbey of Lerins-Cannes
Just a 20-minute boat ride from Cannes, you’ll find one of the very few active monasteries in all of France. The beautiful Abbey of Lerins sits on the island of St Honorat. Far from the hustle and bustle of the French Riviera.
Experience complete serenity watching the communal activities of the less than 20 Cistercian monks living in the abbey. Who spend their days praying, working in the vineyards, and greeting visitors. And be amazed by the monumental tower that still stands more than 10 centuries after it was built.
Taking a walk on the island is a great way to de-stress and explore the vineyards. Where vines as old as 80 years still grow and produce grapes.
La Guerre et La Paix – Vallauris – Golfe Juan
Located in the French Riviera and tucked up on a mountainside off the beaten track, La Guerre et La Paix- Vallauris is one of the three museums in the Château de Vallauris.
Here you’ll find La Guerre (war) and La Paix (peace) painted by Picasso. And while you stare at the images of love on one wall and those of peace on the other. You’ll find yourself lost in thought.
The beautiful chapel (which was also painted by Picasso) leaves visitors awed. It’s normal to find people sitting quietly as they try to absorb the space’s moving and spiritual essence.
Monastery of Saorge
The monastery of Saorge is but a stone’s throw away from the Mercantour. Make your way from the city center early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise bathing the Roya Valley. You’ll also have an inhibited view of the building’s ochre facade parched 800 metres from the village.
Inside the monastery, you’ll find incredible mural frescoes depicting the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Allegories of the virtues such as the sentence “Surgo ni, non-cadam.” Which loosely translates to “I will not rise so as not to fall” and encourages humility.
The terrace gardens (overlooking the mountains) surrounding Saorge provide a great place to gather your thoughts and practice mindfulness.
Chapelle du Rosaire Vence
The L-shaped Chapelle du Rosaire is a beautiful spiritual place. It’s home to some of Henri Matisse’s favourite sacred objects, like vestments, items of worship, and murals. And the crescent-adorned cross rising from the roof make it clear that the building was designed for religious purposes.
Each artwork is strategically placed across the room. Taking full advantage of the play of light seeping through the stained-glass windows. And giving the space a mystical glow. So it’s not surprising why the place is known as the highlight of Vence’s beautiful old town.
With a sign on the door requesting silence in the building. You can spend some time observing the magnificent achievement in the use of colour and light. Become mesmerized by the abstract- created in black outlines on white tiles- images of flowers and that of the Madonna and Child.
Where to stay near the French Riviera? Read: Make Vence Your Holiday Base on The French Riviera.
Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral- Nice
Off the beaten tourist track and across the city from the famous Promenade des Anglais. The six cupolas with golden bulbs of the St Nicholas Cathedral add a touch of the exotic to the Nice skyline.
Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in the early 20th century, Christianity’s symbol provides a perfect spiritual space. You’ll find the interior shaped like a Greek cross. Decorated with frescos, woodwork and icons made by very skilled goldsmiths. Being a place of worship, it’s one of the few places in Nice where silence is encouraged.
Next time you’re in Côte d’Azur and want some time to yourself. Consider going to any of the above places. And enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France.
Additional read: Nice’s Cathedral, the Most Russian Spot in France.
Guest Writer: Sarah Wangari