Notable People of the French Riviera
Artists and Celebrities:
Grace Patricia Kelly (1929-1982)
Grace Patricia Kelly was an American actress and became the Princess of Monaco when she married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, who she met while filming To Catch a Thief on the French Riviera. In her short but extremely successful acting career, she appeared in a total of eleven movies, was nominated several times for a Golden Globe and won an Oscar for Best Actress in The Country Girl. After marrying, she spent the majority of her life in Monaco. She died in a car accident on the way to Monaco from her summer house. Today, Monaco honors the Princess with several statues and plaques, as well as the Grace Kelly Fontvieille Park Rose Garden.
Brigitte Bardot, born in Paris in 1934, was a French actress and singer. She became a movie star and international sex symbol in the 50s. One of her most famous movies, And God Created Woman, was filmed in several locations in and around Saint-Tropez, including popular beaches like La Ponche and Pampelonne. In the movie, Bardot impersonates a wild teenager who is courted by three different men. Bardot currently owns two properties in Saint-Tropez, called La Madrague and La Guarrigue.
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (1899-1980)
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was an English movie director and producer mainly known for his psychological thrillers. Psycho and Rear Window are two of his most famous movies. He directed Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief in 1955, which was filmed in several locations including Nice, Cannes, Eze, Cagnes-sur-Mer and St.Jean-Cap-Ferrat. In the movie, Cary Grant impersonates a retired thief living on the French Riviera who begins to draw attention due to several local thefts.
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
Jean Cocteau was a French artist, poet and movie director. His movies The Beauty and The Beast and Orpheus and his novel Les Enfants Terribles made him famous. An active member of the art community of the French Riviera, he frequented several artists' social circles. Even Picasso made an appearance in one of his movies. He was named Honorary President of the Cannes Film Festival and his artistic career is commended at the Museum of Jean Cocteau in Menton.
Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
Coco Chanel was a renowned designer and creator of the world-famous fragrance Chanel Nº5. She met Samuel Goldwyn in Monaco, who hired her to be a costume designer for Hollywood stars. She and the Duke of Windsor, her lover, hired arquitect Robert Streitz to build the villa La Pausa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Chanel then decorated the villa herself. Legend says that the ground on which the villa was built was Mary Magdalene's resting place following Jesus’ crucifixion. At the villa, Coco Chanel and the Duke of Windsor hosted many artists including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Igor Stravinsky and Jean Cocteau, among others. After the Duke’s death, Chanel sold the property to multimillionaire Emery Reves. He used the villa to collect paintings and artwork by Paul Cezanne, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Paul Gauguin and Rodin, among others.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramicist and stage designer. Picasso and Georges Braques, a fellow painter and friend, co-founded the Cubist movement. Picasso is known for his various artistic periods defined by specific techniques and colors. Among his most notable paintings are El Guernica, Las señoritas de Avignon and La mujer que llora. As his influences, Picasso named painters Cezanne, El Greco, Balzac, Matisse, Braques, Van Gogh and Goya, as well as African and Iberian Art. He painted and sculpted many pieces during his time spent in numerous locations of the French Riviera, including Mougins, Cannes, Golfe-Juan, Vallauris, St. Raphael, Antibes and Cap d’Antibes, St. Tropez and Juan-les-Pins. Picasso bought several properties on the French Riviera, including the Chateau de Vauvenargues, where he was buried after his death in 1973 caused by pulmonary embolism.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was a French painter and sculptor who greatly influenced the fauvist and modern art movements of the 20th Century. Among his most famous pieces are The Dance, The Red Room and Joy of Life. He built what he considered to be his masterpiece - the Chapel of the Rosary - in Vence, which contains several of his paintings. Matisse lived in the neighborhood of Cimiez, Nice, and was buried at the Cimiez Monastery. Cimiez also houses the beautiful Matisse Museum.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Marc Chagall was a French painter of Belarusian origins who was associated with the cubist, avant-garde, and futurist movements. The Drunk and I and the Village are among his most famous paintings. In 1950, he bought a house in Vence, where he lived and did ceramic work alongside Pablo Picasso. He also decorated the Chapel du Calvaire in Vence, which saw the beginning of his his period of fascination with portraying biblical messages. In 1973, the Marc Chagall National Museum was inaugurated in Nice, which features one of the largest collections of his paintings, with particular concentration of his biblical paintings. He was buried in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence.
Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Auguste Renoir was a French impressionist painter whose style was influenced by Delacroix and Velázquez. He co-founded the Anonymous Society of Painters. The Large Bathers, The Two Sisters and Luncheon of the Boating Party are among his most famous paintings. He lived with his family in Cagnes-sur-Mer from 1903 to 1909, when he died of pneumonia. The house was later converted into the Renoir Museum, which has 14 paintings, several sculptures, and daily scenes of his 12 years living there.
Claude Monet (1840-1927)
Claude Monet was a French painter and one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. He was an enthusiast of painting the same scene during different times of the day with varied lighting. From his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), the term Impressionism was born. Some of his most well-known paintings include Sunset in Venice, Woman with a Parasol, and the series of paintings of haystacks, water lilies and the Cathedral of Rouen. Several of his series were painted on the Riviera during various seasons of the year, including locations in Antibes, Juan-les Pins, Cap d’Antibes, Cap Ferrat and their surrounding areas.
Paul Signac (1863-1935)
Paul Signac was an French Impressionist painter who, along with Georges Seurat, invented the Pointillist technique, which eventually led to the foundation of Neo-Impressionism. Signac was a close friend of Van Gogh, and is said to have greatly influenced Matisse and the Fauvist movement. He spent many summers at his property La Hune in Saint-Tropez painting the local life. Using a boat to get views of the coast, he depicted beautiful scenes of Saint-Tropez's surrounding areas, including Marseille, Cassis, Golfe-Juan and Antibes. Signac's most well-known paintings include The Storm, St.Tropez, Port of St.Tropez and Bay of Cannes.
Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Yves Klein was a French artist born in Nice, France. He is often associated with Neodadaism, the Parisian Nouveau Realisme, post-war art and pop art. Known for his monochrome paintings, he also famously exhibited works of performance art and minimal art. During the showing of the film Mondo Cane at the Cannes Film Festival, he had a heart attack, and though he survived, he died of another heart attack only a few years later in Paris at the age of 34.
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Paul Cezanne was a French Impressionist and Post-impressionist painter, as well as an influence on Cubism. Cezanne is considered by some as the father of modern painters. Among his famous paintings are The Large Bathers, The Card Players, Bay of Marseille, Sainte-Victoire, and L’Estaque. Originally from Aix-en-Provence, he spent most of his life in the same region, which also served as the principal setting for his paintings. At Cezanne's house in L’Estaque, near Marseille, Renoir and Monet would come to visit and paint with him.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter and print-maker, usually associated with Impressionism, Symbolism, and German Expressionism. His most famous painting is The Scream. Painted in 1893, its iconic image is one anyone would recognize. His piece At The Roulette Table in Monte-Carlo represents the passion he developed for gambling in Monaco. Many of his paintings depict Nice, such as Sunny Day in Nice, Nice Rooftops, Promenade des Anglais and Under the Palm Trees in Nice.