"Cagnes-sur-mer: Renoir, and Medieval hideaway" Cagnes-sur-Mer by NiceLife

Cagnes-sur-Mer Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 21 photos

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.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Go to Haut de Cagnes before anywhere else
  • Cons:Its hidden away, and you must make the effort to reach it
  • In a nutshell:Aces High
  • Last visit to Cagnes-sur-Mer: Oct 2004
  • Intro Updated Apr 22, 2005
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Reviews (12)

Comments (6)

  • fabrice's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    it is true that Cagnes-sur-mer is not only a beach resort , and has a lot of beautiful cultural places to visit ; I used to work very near , I crossed Cagnes by bike everyday

  • Jul 16, 2007 at 2:56 AM

    What an extremely good account of Cagnes-Sur-Mer by Alan of London. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Went to Cagnes-Sur-Mer in late June and enjoyed Renoir's last house and the Chateau Grimaldi with its exhibitions.

  • Jul 6, 2005 at 8:54 AM

    yeah Cagnes spent an evening up there sooo peaceful told a friend in Oz and she moved there! Love yr comments on Riviera I'm a junkie on all that 20s stuff too.

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2005 at 12:29 PM

    Haut-de-Cagnes looks a beautiful gem. Your right, you could imagine Gandolf in that photo, lol! We stayed in a campsite briefly in Cagnes sur mer. I regret not exploring further. Lovely page Andrew (~_~)

  • Mar 4, 2005 at 3:04 AM

    Great comments about Cagnes sur Mer, Haut de Cagnes. I visited in 1999 and felt I'd stepped back in time. Also ate in Chateau Grimaldi and hope to visit again in a couple of days.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2005 at 12:24 AM

    How pathetic - the ratings I'm talking about! It's Haughty Cagnes for me - great stuff (as usual).

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