Mougins Travel Guide
Mougins, positioned between Cannes and Grasse, rises in a corkscrew of enchanting cobbled streets. The historic center is awash with quaint alleyways adorned with fountains and statues, while artists’ studios blend into a backdrop of lush gardens.
Having become known as a center of gastronomy, Mougins is home to a myriad of magnificent restaurants, including those with Michelin stars, not forgetting their wonderful food festival each year. Mougins has become the favorite culinary and culture getaway for Brits and has a large English-speaking population. Although frequented by celebrity A-listers during the nearby Cannes Movie Festival, it retains its image as an unspoiled medieval village.
A highly attractive aspect in the village are the trees that grow through restaurant terraces in the main square, creating their very own artistic imprint. At the heart is the picturesque Vieux Village, offering spectacular views over Cannes and Grasse with an international reputation for its gourmet cuisine, where great chefs such as Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse managed restaurants.
Mougins has been frequented and inhabited by many artists and celebrities such as Catherine Deneuve, Elizabeth Taylor, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Yves Klein, César Baldaccini, Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Winston Churchill, and the list goes on… Mougins now showcases 30 art galleries and museums. It’s most famous resident, Pablo Picasso, spent the last 12 years of his life living here.
Explore Mougins in this Iconic Riviera travel guide:
Mougins: Basic Information
|Only a 20-minute drive from Cannes, the French Riviera perched village of Mougins sits quietly and elegantly among the hilltop surrounded by the expansive Valmasque forest, wIth a beautiful panoramic view of the pristine Baie de Cannes, the emerald islands of Lerins, and the jagged lines of the Préalpes.
The town of Mougins has a population of around 19,400. Like the rest of the French Riviera, it enjoys the perfect Mediterranean climate with 300 assured days of sunshine.
The old perched town of Mougins is the central focal point for the area, but Mougins has grown to become much larger than just the hilltop area. Some communes of Mougins have housing estates such as the modern Mougins-le-Haut. Along Route Napoleon and the adjoining Tournamy section, shops and businesses add to the contemporary newer parts of town.
A Little History of Mougins
Mougins was once an occupied town even before the Romans rule. The Ligurians occupied it and held it against Byzantine invasion, until the City of Genoa put it under control between the 11th and 15th century. Many of the structures of the old village were built from these years. The monks of St-Honorat from Îles de Lérins administered the hillside region of Mougins when the Count of Antibes put them in charge.
At that time, it was a fortified village. Some remains of the ramparts and walls from those years still stand. The Porte Sarazzine is one of the three original towers. Some of the ramparts were removed by the plundering Austro-Sardinian army, during the War of the Austrian Succession of the 18th century. But the war didn’t stop the town as it revived itself again when several new streets and houses were built in the 19th century. During the 19th and the 20th century, it became a center of flower production used by Grasse for its perfumeries.
The modern art master decided to live here because of its pure beauty and elegance. Picasso spent the last twelve years of his life in Mougins, and you can see his works at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins . The church Notre-Dame-de-Vie charmed him, along with its surroundings. From 1961 to his death in 1973 at the age of 91, he has his studio here finding inspiration from the area around. The time he spent here in Mougins is also the time of the height of his fame as an artist. Check out the story behind Picasso’s storied time on the Riviera.
The Culinary History
The history of Mougins when it comes to gastronomic arts is undeniably remarkable. Famous chefs and culinary experts contributed to the recognition of the town. Their names are also associated with the restaurants where they practice their expertise. Take for example L’Amandier, where geniuses Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse served as chefs and restaurant managers. Vergé opened L’Amandier Mougins in 1977. From 1970-1974 he received Michelin stars and was also made Maître Cuisinier de France in 1980. Ducasse served as assistant to Vergé from whom he learned Provençal cooking which later made him a sought after chef. He took over the kitchens of L’Amandier in 1980. He currently holds 21 Michelin stars.
What to See in Mougins
As part of the cultural exploration of the French Riviera, you can always find the list of the best museums or galleries in our travel guide, and the following are the best you can see in Mougins.
Museé d’Art Classique de Mougins
The founder of this museum is the British businessman Christian Levett. It has an incredible collection of 600 works that spans five millennia, by Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Cocteau, Man Ray, and others.
The displays are in categories depending on the influential civilizations: Greek, Roman, Egyptian. The museum designates the top floor for the displays of ancient armory including helmets, shields, weapons, and armors. The side-by-side display of classic and modern arts and artifacts bridges the ancient and contemporary wonders that give deeper and unexpected connections for the onlookers to ponder with as they tour.
Musée de la Photographie André Villers
Musée de la Photographie André Villers contains exhibits of photographs of Pablo Picasso by photographers Andre Villérs and Henri Lartigue. Picasso’s close friend, photographer André Villers, chronicled the artist’s Mougins years in black-and-white photos.
Images line the walls of an ancient medieval home: Some are hilarious, such as the photo showing Picasso sitting down for breakfast in his trademark Breton shirt, pretending he has croissants for fingers. Additional portraits by Villars—including snaps of Dalí, Catherine Deneuve, and Edith Piaf—are frequently on display. Additional images in the museum were taken by top photographers like Robert Doisneau, who shot the famous “couple kissing in Paris” shot.
Admission is free. It’s open daily from 10am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 6pm (from June through to Sept the hours extend until 7pm) and closed in January.
Espace de l’Art Concret
This is a place that modern art and architecture enthusiasts love to visit. The exhibit is inside the 16th-century Château de Mouans, which shows works by the likes of Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, and Philippe Starck. It has an extension by Albers-Honegger; a lime-green building that is strikingly in contrast with its historical surroundings.
A five-hectare swath of greenery on the edge of Valmasque Forest Park, it is the largest pond with a colony of lotus flowers in Europe. The blooming season is from July to September. Migratory birds and waterfowls plentiful, numbering over 60 different species. Close to the pond is the chapel, Notre-Dame-de-Vie and the manor-villa of Picasso.
How to Get There
Bus #600 between Grasse and Cannes frequents Mougins but does not go into the old village. Get off on Val de Mougins and take the bus #650 (Sophia Antipolis) or Palmbus #27 to reach the village center on the hill. Alternatively, you can walk right up to the village, which can take 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re driving, there’s a parking lot at the entrance to the old perched village.
Video Tour of Mougins
The international reputation of Mougins makes it a top destination for celebrities and tourists alike. The gourmet restaurant and the timeless art museums will give pure satisfaction to those who seek an inimitably gratifying experience.