From Brittany to Provence, discover France’s best sculpture parks. Towering structures coexist alongside pastoral Arcadias, drenching contemporary art’s finest sculpture in any element nature is prepared to offer. Artsper invites you on a virtual tour of France’s best kept cultural secrets.
1. Château La Coste
Château La Coste is a vineyard where wine, art and architecture exist in harmony with nature. Artists and architects were invited to the vineyard not only to discover the beauty of Provence, but to leave a lasting part of their legacy in its beautiful surroundings. Artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle and Tracey Emin were encouraged to choose a spot and create a work that would form part of Château La Coste’s magnificent landscape. Visitors are invited to take part in a walking tour of the estate; discovering the symphony of monumental architecture, delicate olive groves and enchanting valleys. Comfortable footwear recommended!
Château La Coste, 2750 Route De La Cride, 13610 Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France
2. Domaine du Muy
For nearly 30 years, Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand has held a special place for sculpture in his endeavours; whether it’s his gallery in Le Marais, or his numerous exhibitions worldwide.
In 2014, he and his son, Edward, planned to create a private space dedicated to monumental sculpture, across the ephemeral landscape of several major cities in the south of France. Thus was born the Domaine du Muy; an open-air sculpture park nestled between the massif des Maures and Esterel mountain ranges. Mediterranean pine forests extend for miles; hiding glistening ponds, secret valleys and exceptional natural beauty. Domaine du Muy is now home to around forty contemporary works, completed by artists from a wealth of artistic, cultural and generational backgrounds.
3. Château de Bosc
With a surface area of 12,000 m², Château de Bosc’s serene surroundings are split between Nîmes and Avignon. Managed by a family of winegrowers, their passion for art, wine and nature can be experienced in these tranquil settings. Coming from a family of painters, Simone Reynaud wanted Château de Bosc to be a space of not only exceptional wine, but also inspiring contemporary art.
4. The Fondation Maeght
The Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght is one of France’s most esteemed private art foundations, showcasing more than 13,000 works. It was created by publisher and art dealer, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght. Located near the quaint village of Saint-Paul de Vence, the Fondation Maeght is visited by more than 100,000 sculpture park aficionados each year. Its distinctive architectural complex was designed by Josep Lluís Sert, and utilises both modern and contemporary art in all its glory. Painters and sculptors worked together to create a harmonious combination of art, nature and architecture. The Fondation’s highlights include the “Giacometti courtyard”, the “Miró labyrinth”, and the mural mosaics by Marc Chagall and Pierre Tal Coat. The sculpture garden also features a rotating selection of works by Alexander Calder, Joan Miro and Jean Arp.
5. Chartreuse de Mélan
Both a château and art centre, the Chartreuse de Mélan is a space for contemporary artists to create in. Tucked away in the enchanting mountains of Haute Savoie, artists produce installations that are several metres high; mirroring the epic panorama of the Swiss border and mountainous landscape.
6. The Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière
Designed by Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre, the Centre international d’art et du paysage inhabits the entire island of Vassivière. It is a unique location dedicated to contemporary art and artists, allowing creatives the freedom to produce, research and experiment. All 1000 hectares of the island are reserved for art; separated from reality by a footbridge. Along with the artworks, only two other structures exist on the island: a lighthouse designed by Rossi and a château by Berger & Berger.
7. Domaine de Kerguéhennec
Becoming a cultural centre in 1986, this 18-century château now includes more than thirty works by established contemporary artists. Whether it’s Richard Long’s stone circles, Jean-Pierre Raynaud’s flower pots or Richard Artschwager’s armchair; visitors can enjoy art in one Brittany’s most beautiful natural settings.
8. The Musée Rodin Sculpture Garden
Can’t escape Paris for the summer? Then the Musée Rodin sculpture garden might just be for you. Covering three hectares, the grounds consist of a rose garden, ornamental garden and relaxation area. In 1908, Rodin decided to erect some of his works and items from his personal collection in the unkempt, yet much-adored, garden. Visitors can now discover Paris’ rare natural scenery and Rodin’s omnipresent sculptures, in a selection of walks through the gardens. One of Rodin’s most famous works, The Thinker, is also on display; so viewers can truly marvel at the unison of nature and antiquity in all its brilliance.
9. Vent des Forêts
Located in the heart of Meuse, Vent des Forêts is an association of art centres. Since 1997, six agricultural villages have been inviting contemporary artists to create work that integrates with this unique environment. Locals host artists in their homes during their residency, and village craftsmen assist the artists during the production process, creating artwork not only for the community but with the community.
10. Château de la Napoule
Henry and Marie Clews first discovered the derelict ruins of Château de la Napoule in 1918, and dedicated seventeen years of their lives to restoring it. They revived not only the building, but also the gardens, injecting culture into every stem, stone and crevice. The gardens are now home to sculpture, performances, exhibitions and events, and the chateau was officially registered as a “monument historique” by the French Ministry of Culture.