Chateau Grimaldi may take you somewhat by surprise if you are expecting the usual historical museum experience - it also holds regular exhibitions of contemporary art and isn’t afraid of displaying bizarre and sometimes challenging installations. The artworks are incongruous in such a traditional context and the collection changes regularly, so you never know quite what you’re going to get when you visit!
Built in 1300 by Rainier Grimaldi as a military stronghold, this castle dominates the small medieval quarter of Haut de Cagnes and can be seen from miles around. Chateau Grimaldi was transformed in 1620 by Jean-Henri Grimaldi into more of a palatial residence than a defensive fort. Acquired by Cagnes-Sur-Mer in 1937 it was turned into a museum and declared a historic monument in 1948; as well as retaining many original architectural features it also houses a small museum dedicated to olive farming, with traditional tools on display.
As well as the ever-changing contemporary art exhibitions there is also a permanent collection dedicated to Suzy Solidor - singer, muse and actress extraordinaire of the 1930’s. She set out on a mission to become the most painted woman of all time and amassed a collection of over 200 portraits of herself; in a not-at-all-narcissistic gesture she kindly donated 40 of them to the chateau on the condition that they never be separated and that they remain on permanent display in a room of her choice.
Once you’ve perused the olive museum and art exhibitions you should make your way up to the tower; the views stretch out for miles in all directions from mountains to sea across the red-tiled rooftops of Cagnes-Sur-Mer and beyond. The tower is sometimes closed in windy weather but if it’s open, it’s worth a look.
- Haut-de-Cagnes - place du Château