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(one of the most walkable

cities in France) he captured

the essence of the glorious

surrounding countryside and

almost yellow light. From any

high lookout in the Bouches-

de-Rhône and Var locals point

to Mont Saint Victoire and

the landscapes he painted so

repeatedly.

The American Impressionist

Mary Cassatt 'discovered'

Grasse where she lived in an

enchanted villa with stunning

views and entertained Degas

and Renoir on its terrace! Oh

to have been privy to their

conversations!

This region is home to

another jewel beloved by

artists. High in the hinterlands, with a labryinth of

cobblestoned alleys and views

to the Mediterranean, is the

charming hilltop village of

Saint-Paul-de-Vence where

Marc Chagall spent the last

three decades of his long life.

Picasso, Matisse and Folon (as

well as film stars and glitterati)

often frequented the village

- best of all the vistas they

painted are still here to enjoy.

And the attraction of France

for artists continues. David

Hockney recently bought a

house in Caen, Normandy,

where he says he will live

the rest of his life. It's said he

plans to paint the scene from

the windows of his new home

reflecting passing seasons -

from apple blossom to fall …

collectively known as the Pont

Aven school.

Moving south, Monet

discovered the Creuse, an area

described as 'so rich the artist

doesn't know where to stop' by

the novelist George Sand. The

'valley of the painters' is not far

from Guéret - this area remains

one of the more reasonably

priced parts of France for

aspiring artists to buy homes!

Then they came to Southern

France - in 1905 Matisse put

Collioure on the map, this

ancient port is on the edge of

the Mediterranean close to the

Spanish border. His paintings

are characterised by flat shapes,

controlled lines and masterfully

coloured broad strokes of paint.

Cézanne was already

here - born in Aix-en-Provence

Arles

Café Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh gardens

Pont Van Gogh

Collioure

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