•Alpes-Maritimes (06250) • Population: 13,014 • Altitude: 250 m
Mougins is a pretty little perched Medieval village, between the busy coastal town of Cannes and the back-country gateway town of Grasse.
The village of Mougins is today a collection of restaurants, art galleries and estate agents — with the emphasis on gourmet restaurants.
Mougins has retained the shape of its origins, and some vestiges of its Medieval heritage, but it lacks the maze of narrow streets found in most other little perched villages of the the South of France. You get the best idea of the circular shape of Mougins village from a map (free at the Office de Tourisme) or the enamel-tile plan of the village [Photo 2].
You don't really need a map to tour the old village, though, because just wandering the streets tends to bring you around in a circle to your starting point anyway.
The Porte Sarrazine [Photo 12] is the best remnant of the Medieval fortified walls of that earlier era.
The Rue de l'Eglise, bordered on one side by a narrow stepped canal [Photo 9], slopes up to the 11th-century Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur church — with recent remodelling in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Mougins Commercial Center
The fortified hilltop of Mougins Village isn't really a village, but the center-piece of the commune of Mougins.
The commercial center of the town is mainly the section of shops along the to the west, and the adjacent Tournamy section just to the north. These two areas are joined by a roundabout (traffic circle) at the entrance/exit of the Cannes-Grasse limited-access highway. There's a supermarket here and a small strip-mall. The Ave de Tournemy is the old route between Grasse and Le Cannet, and is lined with shops and businesses of all kinds.
Othere areas of the commune of Mougins contain housing estates, including the relatively modern hilltop "village" of Mougins-le-Haut.
Famous Sons & Fellow Travellers
Mougins seems to be most proud of native son Commandant Amédée-François Lamy, born here in Feb 1858, and died at the battle of Kousséri (Chad) in April 1900. Fort-Lamy in Chad was named after him a few days after his death — renamed N'Djamena in 1973.
Not precisely a "favorite son" because he wasn't born here, yet Picasso is forever linked to Mougins. In 1961 Picasso moved to the hilltop mas at Notre-Dame-de-Vie, just beside the 12th-century chapel of the same name [Photo 17], across the valley about a km from Mougins village. The night of 8 April 1973, died at his home here. He was taken the next day to his chateau at Vauvenargues where he was buried.
History of Mougins
First record, 11th century Muginis
There was probably a Ligurian settlement, followed by a Roman hilltop site: one source says the Ligurian-Roman hilltop site was the Notre-Dame-de-Vie hill (where PIcasso's house is located); the tourist-office documents say it was the hilltop of the current Mougins village.
In the 18th century, Mougins was occupied by the Austo-Sardaniens, who were on some military adventures in France during the Revolution. (The Austo-Sardaniens lost a battle at Gilette in 1793.)
Parking du Moulin de la Croix
(in the first parking lot at the entrance to the village).
Tel : 04 93 75 87 67; Fax: 04 92 92 04 03
Local History Museum
The Musée d'histoire locale, on Rue Maréchal Foch near the center of Mougins Village, show what the ancient village and its inhabitants looked like, along with costumes and early tools.
The small Musée de la Photographie is at the Place de l'Eglise, just inside the Medieval Porte Sarrazine. The three floors include a collection of ancient cameras and photographs of Picasso by famous photographers.
The Mougin Musée de l'Automobile closed down on 19 Dec 2008.
The Musée de l'Automobile is located by the rest-stop on the nearby A8 autoroute. This large museum has a fabulous collection of ancient cars and racing cars. The theme of the exhibit changes periodically, emphasising sometimes themes such as "Ferraris", "Formula One Cars", etc. Twice a year there's a large "automobile exchange and flea market", featuring stands of car and motor parts and hard-to-find items for collectors, and model car collections.
There are a pair of interesting chapels in the commune of Mougins:
- The 12th-c Notre-Dame-de-Vie 12th-century chapel [Photo 17] was painted by Winston Churchill, and is by the house where Picasso lived and worked his last 12 years.
- The octagonal shaped Saint Barthelémy Chapelle and oratory [Photo 18] is located a couple of km west of Mougins village.
Bus Line 600 Cannes - Grasse
Bus line 600, Cannes - Grasse, serves Cannes, Mougins, Mouans-Sartoux and Grasse. The route near Grasse is the Cannes-Grasse road via the Quatre Chemins. The full trip takes about 50 minutes and costs 1 euro.
An official list of Alpes-Maritimes bus lines, with links to the schedules for each line (PDF), is available on the following link:
• Web: www.cg06.fr/fr/servir-les-habitants/deplacements/transport-collectifs/lignes-et-horaires/lignes-et-horaires/
• Latitude, Longitude: 43.60009, 6.996219
The area Mougins is too built-up for good hiking, but there are some decent places for walking or jogging not far away. At L'Etang de Fontmerle, across the valley to the east (and beside the Notre-Dame-de-Vie chapel) is a large open area popular for strolling, kite-flying, dog walking and playing with the kiddies. A path circling the etang (lake) is used for jogging.
The actual Etang de Fontmerle is a small, shallow lake, almost completely filled with the Sacred Lotus. This is, we understand, the largest collection of the sacred lotus flower in France.
Just past the Fontmerle area is the very large, wooded Parc de la Valmasque. Laced with paths and trails, the Parc de la Valmasque is popular for picnicking, jogging, and nature walking. Beyond has been walking and jogging here for a couple of decades now.
Dining is the leitmotif of Mougins. Where other Alpes-Maritimes villages might be filled with Provençal souvenir shops, Mougins is filled with restaurants. When Roger Vergé opened his Moulin de Mougins in 1969 there were 7 restaurants in the commune. Today, according to a tourist-office brochure, there are around 50 Mougins restaurants.
Over the years Beyond has dined here a few times — for very special occasions. We've experienced some grand dining, in wonderful settings and with the requisite magnificent service. In addition to the real star-quality cuisine and budget-breaking possibilities, Mougins has many terrace restaurants with excellent menus at moderate prices — at least for the mid-day meals.
The famous Moulin de Mougins restaurant is a refurbished 16th-century mill, located on the D3 road a couple of km southeast of the perched village. In January 2004, chef Alain Llorca, previously of the Chanticler dining room at the Negresco palace in Nice, took over the "Moulin" from M. Vergé.