The South of France is home to some of the most beautiful towns, village and cities in all of France and so my excitement was probably pretty understandable when we headed over to Montpellier for a weekend in France’s Occitanie region.
We arrived pretty late at night and so we didn’t do much in the city the night we arrived, we pretty much just checked into the hotel and called it a night. (To be fair – it was almost midnight by thus point).
The next morning however, we wasted no time the very next morning as we headed into the city.
Our lazy morning amble led us to the Fabre Museum to where a Picasso collection was on display – amidst many other amazing artists.
The Fabre Museum is deceptively large. From outside, you can kinda tell how tall it is but what you don’t really get a sense of is how wide its span is.
The collections here are pretty amazing too – some of which span several centuries.
French renaissance pieces sits next to Italian renaissance…
…it’s all pretty impressive and set in quite an amazing property in the city.
Fabre – whom the museum is named after (he founded it after all), was quite the artist himself and has several collections in the museum. He’s actually from Montpellier so it’s all fitting, really.
He also had quite the thing for male nudes apparently…
This part of the gallery, by the way, is perhaps the ‘saucier part’ – for instance, that lady below isn’t laid back – look at where her hands are… she’s doing exactly what it looks like she’s doing. 😄
Works by Monet and Bazille line the walls here… apparently they – along with other artists at the time – were friends and so I guess it seems approipriate that they should feature in the same part of the gallery.
One of the more popular pieces of work here is by renowned and widely celebrated French artist – Soulages, who is almost a century old (he’s in his late 90s) hand still very much actively at work.
Distinct features of his work involves working predominantly with the colour black and the use of light to create textures that are absolutely fascinating – especially when you consider that it’s pretty much the exact same colours he uses to create such different effects.
The final collection we stopped off at in the gallery was the Picasso collection and it is hand down the most amazing Picasso collection I’ve seen. I’m not sure it’s the largest out there (in fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t) but it is the most-wide stretching and most varied of all the collections out there.
The work here spans Picasso’s teens right up to his 80s.
They detail his turbulent relationship with his wife towards the tail end of their marriage.
They show off his affairs and many relationships.
They span across the different art forms he did – sketches, sculptures, paintings and art forms you didn’t even know he did.
It’s such an amazing collection to check out as you get a deeper appreciation for who Picasso was, not just as an artist, but as a person. (For instance, his disillusion with his wife and marriage can be seen in a painting he did of her where he distorts so many of her features to make her look as ‘awful’ as he felt about her at the time.)
Suffice to say, we left the gallery thoroughly pleased with our decision to stop off there but also surprisingly quite ready for lunch and to check out the rest of the city.
Montpellier really is such a beauty in the sunshine! I’m sure it’s as pretty in winter but that summer sunshine just adds a little ‘Je ne sais quoi‘ to the proceedings… 😀
The search for lunch was actually quite distracting as we kept finding pretty street after pretty street with lots of cute little shops to pick up a souvenir or two in the city.
Eventually, we found Cafe Balthazar, away from Montpellier’s busy streets to stop in for lunch.
Beers and martinis began the proceedings for lunch…
….which started with salmon (for both of us).
…before moving on to steaks.
Dessert was chocolate fondant for Lloyd…
…and a cheesecake for me.
It was nothing but a small mercy (and paying half attention in French classes) that we were able to order lunch here as the menus were in French and the lady here didn’t speak any French but it was so worth it for the lunch!
It was exactly what we needed (except perhaps for the cheesecake I got – not really a fan of cheesecake with soggy bases) and definitely worth popping into for lunch. 😀
Fed, watered and martini’ed up, I was now to properly explore Montpellier and I couldn’t wait. Bring on the city!