History & Culture

Artists' Homes in France

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A place to contemplate and create

The dwellings of an artist can have a great impact on their work, as they often need a space where they can relax, in an environment that inspires them to create new ideas and works of art. We've taken a look at some famous artists from throughout history, and the buildings that they chose to call their home.

La Californie and Château de Vauvenargues - Pablo Picasso

Famed Spanish painter Pablo Picasso had a long and successful career as an artist, and he continues to be one of the most influential and well-known artists of the 20th century. His style altered greatly throughout his career and he is regarded as one of the main pioneers of the Cubist movement.

His changing styles of painting were influenced by many factors including personal relationships with other artists, as well as where he chose to live. Having been exiled from his native country of Spain in 1939, Picasso spent the majority of his remaining years in France, having first visited Paris in 1900. Between the years of 1955 and 1961, Picasso lived in La Californie, a villa in Cannes, with his last wife Jaqueline Roque.

Later, seeking a quieter and more secluded life, Picasso was shown the Château de Vauvenargues, in the south of France, and immediately fell in love. He began renovating the Château, and eventually moved his entire collection of artworks there from his house in Cannes. Visible from the surrounding hills, today the Château is privately owned by the Picasso family, but it is possible to visit La Californie, which is now a museum and gallery open to the public.

Picasso's house is now a museum giving insight into his childhood

Picasso's house is now a museum giving insight into his childhood

Giverny - Claude Monet

Claude Monet's house and gardens in Giverny are a beautiful place to visit, whether you're an art enthusiast or not. He lived here for an incredible 43 years of his life, and throughout this time, Monet adjusted the house to his own tastes, creating the stunning gardens that inspired his most famous series of paintings, Water Lilies.

Originally, the house was quite small with a barn next door, but Monet extended the building to create a much larger space for him to work and live in. He used the barn alongside the house as his first studio, and used the light, airy space to store his canvases.

Monet adored colours, and he filled the gardens with an array of wonderful flowers, as well as creating the ponds and a bridge area that can be seen in several of his paintings. Throughout the years, Monet and his family lived in this beautiful home, and you can take guided tours throughout the property, where you'll see the many colourful rooms which Monet decorated himself.

Monet's famous house is decorated in pink and green, which was chosen by the artist

Monet's famous house is decorated in pink and green, which was chosen by the artist

Clos Lucé - Leonardo da Vinci

A small château in the French city of Amboise, Clos Lucé, or Château du Clos Lucé, was the home of Leonardo da Vinci from 1516 until his unfortunate death in 1519. The artist was invited to the nearby Château d'Amboise by King Francis I, who offered Clos Lucé to him as a place to live and work. Today the site exists as a museum dedicated to the artist, and visitors are able to walk through various rooms of the building, including the reception room and kitchen.

The inside is decorated in a Renaissance style, which has been maintained to keep it in as similar fashion as possible to how it would have looked at the time of Da Vinci's death. Even though he lived here during the last few years of his life, Leonardo da Vinci continued to be a prolific creator right up until his death.

The beautiful Clos Lucé

The beautiful Clos Lucé

As you walk through the house, you can see some of the artist's workplaces, and one room that's particularly fascinating is the Model Room. As well as a famous painter, Leonardo da Vinci was also a respected inventor. The Model Room displays a selection of replicas of his creations, from flying machines to tanks, and they are accompanied by detailed illustrations by the artist.

Rue Campagne Première - Yves Klein

Born of two artists, one a figurative painter and one an abstract painter, Yves Klein was creative from a young age. He lived a short but successful life, and today he is seen as a prominent figure in European post-war art. Most people know him from his monochromatic paintings, particularly his blue period, from which he went on to develop his own rich, highly pigmented blue colour, which became known as International Klein Blue.

During his lifetime, he hopped between France and the rest of Europe to chase creative projects, but eventually around 1958, he found himself back in Paris, and whilst here he lived and worked at Rue Campagne Première. His apartment is located in the Montparnasse neighbourhood, which is famous for attracting many creative figures such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, and Andre Breton, to name just a few.

Montparnasse, Paris, where Yves Klein lived

Montparnasse, Paris, where Yves Klein lived

During this time in Paris, Yves Klein explored his 'living brushes' technique, which involved using nude models, and his signature IKB hue, to create figurative prints. Outside the building, you'll find a plaque which commemorates the artist, and it is actually possible to rent an apartment within the building, if you're keen.

Getting there and around

Travelling around by car is a great way to explore Europe's creative hidden treasures, and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes.

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