The medieval village

The Haut-de-Cagnes, a medieval village located at the top of the castle hill, is the historical part of the city of Cagnes-sur-Mer.

650 inhabitants have chosen to live in this neighborhood, classified as a “historic site” in 1948, which has managed to preserve the serenity of a village life, away from the hectic pace of the French Riviera.

The patina of the centuries, stones steeped in history, shady, narrow and flowery streets, unusual views of the Mediterranean and the Mercantour, all contribute to keeping the visitor in search of authenticity.

Place du château du Haut-de-Cagnes

Unique site on the French Riviera

The Haut-de-Cagnes has managed to preserve the mystery of the strongholds of Provence and at the same time open up to visitors.

A maze of steep and cobbled streets, vaulted passages, flowered staircases, houses that catch your eye, unusual viewpoints, artists’ studios, the Haut-de-Cagnes reveals itself at every step…

Renoir, Soutine, Modigliani, Ziem, Klein fell in love with it… now it’s your turn!


Highway A8 + Exits 47/48 CAGNES-SUR-MER + Direction Centre-Ville.

Smart: leave your car in one of the many parking lots in the city center and use the free shuttle bus (n° 44) leaving from the bus station in the city center every 15 minutes 7 days a week.
Download the route and timetable of the shuttle n°44

Maison des artistes du Haut-de-Cagnes

The Artists’ House

The Maison des Artistes is a communal building lent since 1954 to the association of the “Peintres de Cagnes” who have entirely renovated it in exchange for the right to exhibit their works there.

In this house are organized collective exhibitions of contemporary art, of Cagnois artists, but also regional, national and foreign.

The fall and spring shows are reserved for Cagnois artists.

The trompe l’oeil that decorates the façade of the building was created in 1999 by a school yard in Nice, and recently renovated.

Location : Haut-de-Cagnes, place du Château.
Opening : from Wednesday to Sunday (free entrance).
Contact: mdacagnes@yahoo.fr

The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

The church, which had become too small to hold all its faithful, was restored and enlarged in the 16th and 18th centuries.
The works completed in 1762 doubled the proportions with the higher nave visible in the right part, a main entrance portal was also added. It is visible from the church square behind the building. At that time the parish of Cagnes counted 1200 souls.

In the church, you can admire some religious paintings from the 18th century, including the painting that adorns the main altar and represents the handing over of the keys to St. Peter.
The paintings of the Way of the Cross, created by the painter Charles Barkev on the occasion of the Jubilee 2000, offer the particularity of representing Cagnois from Haut-de-Cagnes who have accepted to pose to illustrate the Passion of Christ.

Eglise Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul - haut de Cagnes
Eglise Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul - Haut de Cagnes

Location : Haut-de-Cagnes, place Grimaldi (behind the castle)
Opening : every day from 10 am to 5 pm and 6 pm in summer (free entrance).

We also enter the church of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul as part of the guided tours of the “medieval village” on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10 am (fee: 3 € – meeting point at the foot of the Grimaldi castle-museum).

Chapelle Notre Dame de Protection - Haut de Cagnes
Chapelle Notre Dame de Protection - Haut de Cagnes

The Chapel of Our Lady of Protection

In the 14th century, a small oratory was built on this site outside the town walls, on the road to Italy. This building had two parts: an apse and an open nave intended to serve as a temporary refuge for pilgrims.
The primitive apse still remains, it was frescoed by Andrea de Cella around 1530.

It was only in 1936 that the priest Malplat discovered by chance the frescoes of the XVIth century which had been hidden under a plaster.
Following this discovery, the chapel was classified as a historical monument on April 4, 1939.

Do not miss to visit the interior to discover these naive and colorful frescos, illustrating the life of the Virgin and the childhood of Jesus.

Situation : Haut-de-Cagnes, at the intersection of the montée du château and the rue Hippolyte Guis.

Currently closed for work.


When “The rounded hill”…

“Cagnes” is a name of Ligurian origin which means “inhabited place on a rounded hill”.

This rocky spur, which rises to 91 meters above sea level, offered our ancestors an ideal position for surveillance and defense, near a river and good land.

This place was first occupied by the Celto-Ligurians and then by the Gallo-Romans.

In 1388, the nearby Var river became the natural border between the County of Provence and the country of Nice, which seceded and came under the authority of the Counts of Savoy. Cagnes, which has about 1,200 to 1,500 inhabitants, becomes a border town on the Var river.

When Provence joined France in 1483, Cagnes became a border town on the only road leading to France from the Savoy States.

From the 16th century onwards, this border area, which entered a cycle of great European wars, was often pillaged and sacked.

Cagnes knew its most glorious period under the reign of Louis XIII, when its castle-fort was transformed by Jean-Henri Grimaldi into a sumptuous seigneurial residence around 1620: this palace then became the most frequented in the region.

The reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV brought back wars and multiple invasions from the border area.

At the time of the French Revolution, in 1790, Cagnes still had only 1,388 inhabitants, mostly peasants who lived from the cultivation of vines, olives, hemp, citrus fruits and early fruits.

Ancienne carte postale du Haut-de-Cagnes

… becomes “The Montmartre of the French Riviera”!

At the beginning of the 20th century, when Renoir came to live in our town, from 1903 to his death in 1919, Cagnes was the chief town of the canton with about 3,000 inhabitants.
Attracted by the fame of the impressionist master, many painters in love with the Mediterranean light will come to settle in this picturesque village which is nicknamed “The Montmartre of the French Riviera”, and which attracts celebrities from the world of arts and entertainment until the 60s.

Among the most famous, stayed or lived in Haut-de-Cagnes, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Chaim Soutine, Foujita, Yves Klein, Georges Simenon (at 98, montée de la Bourgade), Mouloudji (singer poet and composer), Suzy Solidor (singer and cabaret director), Georges Ulmer or Brigitte Bardot…

The French Riviera of the Painters

In the footsteps of the great masters, this itinerary follows the Haut-de-Cagnes (12 lecterns) and the Domaine Renoir (2 lecterns), inviting you to discover our landscapes sublimated by some of the greatest painters (Renoir, Soutine, Derain, Johnson, Vallotton..).

The lecterns present reproductions of the paintings of the great masters and are installed, outside, in the medieval village on the places where the original works were created, at the very places where the painters put their easels.

Guided tours of the Côte d’Azur des Peintres: Thursdays, July 20, August 17 and September 14, 2023.

Meeting point at 5:30 pm at the foot of the Grimaldi castle-museum.

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Guided tour

Village of history, village of painters…

A unique site on the French Riviera between the sea and the mountains, the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes has retained the mystery of the strongholds of Provence.

The Haut-de-Cagnes reveals itself with each step in the company of our guide: a maze of sloping streets paved with pebbles, staircases and houses full of flowers, pontis, wash house, Maison des Artistes (contemporary art exhibitions), Espace Solidor (contemporary jewelry exhibitions), religious heritage (Saint-Pierre Church and Notre-Dame de la Protection Chapel, classified as a historical monument and magnificently decorated with 16th century frescoes), vaulted stalls and gourmet stalls make up the soul of this village.

With its remarkable views of the Mediterranean and the Mercantour Massif, it is not surprising to learn that Soutine, Modigliani and Ziem fell in love with it… you too can fall in love!

Ruelle pavée du haut-de-cagnes
Guided tours of the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes
Every 1st Sunday of the month during the “Haut-de-Cagnes Art en fête” event.

Reservations required on the following days: Fridays May 3 & 17, Fridays June 14 & 21, Thursdays September 19 & 26 and Thursdays October 10 & 17.

Reservations required at reservations.musees@cagnes.fr minimum 2 people. For cancellations, please notify the museum at least 48 hours in advance at the same e-mail address, giving your number and name.

Price of the guided tour: 3 € (+ 4 € for an entrance to the museum).

RDV at the entrance to the Château-Musée Grimaldi – price: €3