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Vallauris
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Picasso spent ten years just northeast of Cannes in VALLAURIS, set in the hills above the Golfe Juan. It was here that he first began to use clay, thereby reviving one of the traditional crafts of this little town. In search for a Vallauris hotel, look at this website. Today the main street, avenue Georges-Clemenceau, sells nothing but pottery, much of it the garishly glazed bowls and figurines that could feature in souvenir shops anywhere. Picasso used to work in the Madoura workshop, on avenue des Ancien-Combattants-d'AFN, to the right as you come down avenue Georges-Clemenceau; it still has sole rights on reproducing Picasso's designs, which it sells, at a price, in the shop (Mon–Fri only).

The bronze statue of Man with a Sheep, Picasso's gift to the town, stands in the main square and marketplace, place de la Libération, beside the church and castle. The local authorities also suggested he should decorate the early medieval deconsecrated chapel in the castle courtyard (daily except Tues: June–Sept 10am–6.30pm; Oct–May 10am–noon & 2–5pm; €3), which he finally did in 1952: his subject was war and peace. The space is tiny, with the architectural simplicity of an air-raid shelter, and at first glance it's easy to be unimpressed by the painted panels covering the vault – as many critics still are – since the work looks mucky and slapdash, with paint-runs on the plywood panel surface. But stay a while and the passion of this violently drawn pacifism slowly emerges. On the "War" panel, a music score is trampled by hooves and about to be engulfed in flames; a fighter's lance tenuously holds the scales of justice and a shield that bears the outline of a dove. "Peace" is represented by Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek myth; people dancing and suckling babies; trees bearing fruit; owls; books; and the freedom of the spirit to mix up images and concepts with well-intentioned mischief. The ticket for the chapel also gives admission to the Musée de Céramique in the castle (same hours; €3), which exhibits Picasso's and other ceramics.

There are regular buses from Cannes and from Golfe-Juan SNCF to place de la Libération. The tourist office is at the bottom of avenue Georges-Clemenceau on square du 8-Mai-1945 (July & Aug daily 7am–7pm; Sept–June Mon–Sat 9am–noon & 2–6pm; tel 04.93.63.82.58).


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