MUSÉE JEAN COCTEAU

 

WEBSITE: www.museecocteaumenton.fr
LOCATION: Menton, FRANCE
NEAREST AIRPORTS: Nice Airport
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I was totally surprised to discover this museum. I went with slight skepticism, not having heard of the museum previously but as it flagged up in my research, and on doing a tour of the south of France, I thought why not? Thus I discovered Menton and Cocteau, my favourite kind of pilgrimage!

The museum seems to have been a total work of love, through and through. The collection is that of Severin Wunderman, an American businessman who started collecting Cocteau’s works at the tender age of 19. The building, an unusually sensual and imaginative work in its own right, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, was to encapsulate the spirit of the Cocteau: Artist, writer, poet, designer, and bon vivant.

The museum itself (if you can get past the shop which is particularly good) is a treasure trove of Cocteau’s works, all displayed in a creative and engaging way. It really boasts the breadth of his activity with poems written out alongside his graphic works, beautiful paintings that are full of personality, and, perhaps what I liked best, samples of his movies. I was shocked to see his Beauty and the Beast – clearly the inspiration for the Disney cartoon.

The museum was built here because Cocteau himself, unsurprisingly, also fell in love with the seaside town. It has sweet little markets, typical coffee shops, wine bars, and street sellers. Visiting Menton feels like stepping into a South of France post card – untouched by flash tourists and super-cars who get trapped in Monaco. Cocteau liked it so much he befriended the mayor who, in 1957, agreed for Cocteau to decorate the local Wedding Hall which is still available to view.