My armchair travels took me back to Mougins today, a town I visited in 2008. Mougins, often considered one of the prettiest villages in the Côte d’Azur, is about 15 minutes north of Cannes. The air is fragranced by pine, citrus, and olive trees. The 360° view over the Mediterranean and the distant flower fields of Grasse has attracted artists and beautiful people for many years. Christian Dior, Jean Cocteau, Yves Saint Laurent, Pablo Picasso, Catherine Deneuve, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel are just a few of the bright lights who have hung out here over the years. In fact, Picasso lived the last twelve years of his life in a farmhouse here and his atelier is now the tourist office. The newly-opened Mougins Museum of Classical Art and the Photography Museum are two reminders of this cultural heritage, in addition to numerous small galleries.
It’s also a gastronomic town, with the big name in town being L’Amandier, named after the almond mill that houses it that dates back to the Middle Ages. Alain Ducasse is one of the super-star chefs who has worked here. Even though the restaurant has the reputation of being expensive, the lunch menu is a great value at 19 – 26 Euros. Every September, there is the International Gastronomy Festival of Mougins, also known as Les Étoiles de Mougins.
There are records of people having lived on this hilltop since before the Roman occupation of Gaul. The church dates to the 12th Century. Most of the old town dates to the 15th Century, including fragments of the fortifying wall and gates that served to protect the town from invasion. They worked pretty well until the War of the Austrian Succession in the 18th Century when the town suffered some damage. That’s why some of the buildings are “only” 350 years old.
Today’s expression, né sous une bonne étoile (nay soo oon bun aytwal), means “born under a lucky star.” Both the town of Mougins and the people who get to enjoy it, even if just for a few hours like me, sure are lucky.