Cagnes-sur-mer: Renoir, and Medieval hideaway
"Much more than just seaside resort"
Cagnes (pronounced exactly like "Cannes" but the lightest touch of a "g" within ) consists of three distinct areas.
Cagnes-sur-Mer, a small nondescript seaside town and a fishing harbour, whose sea front is blighted by a noisy and fast moving stream of cars.
Cagnes Ville, which is a busy commercial area with undistinguished apartment blocks and shops.
And lastly, the real star -the little known but magnificent hidden medieval gem of Haut-de-Cagnes.
Technically part of the commune of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Haut Cagnes is so un-seaside-like that I decided to put my travel page homage to Haut-de-Cagnes under both "Cros-de-Cagnes" and "Cagnes-sur-Mer", as VT has no location for Haut-de-Cagnes.
Go here for the real scoop.
Pass through Cros-de-Cagnes, Cagnes-Ville, or Cagnes-sur-Mer and you will catch a fleeting glimpse on the skyline of the rising battlements of the Chateau Grimaldi, crowning the medieval bourg of Haut-de-Cagnes.
f you make the effort, you will find in Haut-de-Cagne the most wonderful unspoilt fortified medieval village, mercifully preserved from mass tourism as submerges St Paul de Vence or Eze. Its winding twisting alleys and densely packed bijou terraced houses are beautifully preserved by their priviledged contemporary occupants.
The walk from Cagnes Ville is a fierce upward climb that would test even the fittest. So the Bourg thoughtfully provides a Navette Gratuite - a free 12 seater minibus service four times an hour - that will whisk you up the two kilometres from the Cagnes "Gare Routiere" to Haut-de-Cagnes in ten minutes flat. The journey is thrills and spills itself as many of the narrow lanes into the town allow only inches either side for the coach.
Once offloaded at the Chateau Grimaldi, your exploration can begin...
"Hidden medieval gem"
Fortified Medieval Town
Dating back to the middle ages, some houses here proudly display their origin as 1315, and are immaculately restored for contemporary living. Hardly more than the odd solitary tourist is to be seen. Real people live here because they have chosen to. Many of the homes have rear gardens which enjoy completely private uninterrupted views out over the Var or the Med below. There is the odd artists atelier studio, but little or no commercialisation in evidence. Just a handful of excellent bar/ restaurants at the foot of the Chateau frequented by locals and those in the know, perfect for a calm Sunday lunch.
Within the Chateau is the arresting Donation Suzy Solidor, thirties Parisien cabaret singer as painted by forty different artists of the pedigree of Cocteau and Lempicka.
Not far is the Renoir Museum, dedicated to Cagnes biggest claim to fame, as home to the artist Renoir
A perfect hidden gem.