All that we really need to do to enjoy art 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, is to open the window, as outside is 🖼 the most exquisite work of art of them all: 🌿 Mother Nature, Dame Nature!
It is no wonder why so many 🎨 famous artists have been – and are still are – attracted to our 🏔 alpine scenery: 🍂🍃 the changing seasons, and the play of light on mountains, snow, glaciers, water and leaves – magical and inspirational . . .
From the earliest depictions of the expeditions up 🏔 Mont-Blanc, through to 🎨 JMW Turner, Renoir, Cézanne and Hodler, so many artists have been drawn to the majesty of our high peaks, to our valleys, to our mountain lakes, rivers and glaciers. 🌿 Nature and 🎨 art: they go hand-in-hand . . .
Here are some of the 🎨 Romantics’ and Impressionists’ visions of 🏔 Mont-Blanc and 💦 Lac d’Annecy (JMW Turner, Gabriel Loppé, Albert Bierstadt, Renoir, Cézanne, Hodler):
And the ⛪ churches and chapels that abound in our 🏔 majestic mountain valleys are also testament to enduring art complementing nature: with art inside and outside – soaring steeples, frescoes, stained glass window . . . (note: you can explore some of the ⛪ Baroque churches and chapels of our mountain valleys on the walking route Sentier du Baroque; see here).
As well as some 🖼 permanent outdoor exhibitions 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, we are treated to 🖼 new and ephemeral outdoor exhibitions across the spectrum of seasons: 📷 photography, 🎨 sculptures, 🖼 canvasses . . .
This article explores some of the 🏔 OUTDOOR SPACES au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) used to showcase this art!
Colour code for listings:
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & environs) and Vallorcine
Passy & environs
Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy
St Gervais, Saint-Nicolas de Véroce, Bionnassay, Le Fayet & environs
Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs
Les Contamines & environs
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
🇨🇭 Switzerland 🇨🇭
🇮🇹 Italy 🇮🇹
Place de l’Aiguille (Chamonix)
There are occasionally 📷 photo exhibitions in this spot, next to the ☕️ Vertical Shop & Café of the 🚠 Aiguille du Midi cable car departure . . .
address: Place de l'Aiguille, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
Place du Triangle de l’Amitié (Chamonix)
This square is a space dedicated to the transfrontaliers countries around Mont-Blanc, and it is used for exhibitions (recently a homage to Roger Frison-Roche, who died 20 years ago, tracing his life and adventures, from the moutains to the burning deserts of the Sahara);
address: Place du Triangle de l'Amitié, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
Outside the Tourist Office (Chamonix)
This space has 📷 a permanent photo exhibition.
Les Jardins de Fujiyoshida (Japanese gardens, Chamonix)
Hidden up above the 💎 Espace Tairraz, this is 🌷 a pretty landscaped garden. You’ll come across a sweet statue, created by Japanese sculptor Mr Shôzô Hamada in 1998, to celebrate 10 years of jumelage between Fujiyoshida and Chamonix; the title of the statue is « warashiko », meaning « child ».
🖼 🖼 🖼
Tré-le-Champ monoliths (Tré-le-Champ)
Have you ever been to see the Moaïs-inspired wooden monoliths that look out from Tré-le-Champ? My son discovered them with Cat Kartal on one of her Art & Nature summer workshops, and they have inspired me ever since! The artist is Laurent Reynès (sculptor, artist, painter), and he wanted to put out a strong message to the world as the civil war began in Syria and the Moaïs de bois (2014) are part of an amibitious global work, « Le Poids du Monde »:
He says: « Notre terre est constituée d’ambivalences, faite d’une foule de nuances aboutissant au meilleur et au pire. Le meilleur, je l’exprime dans les installations de la Construction Voyageuse, par les Constructions abstraites, par les Herculéennes, les Aériennes et les Portraits de Ciel. Le pire est dit dans ” le Poids du Monde “. Cette terre est pétrie et modelée de tout ce que l’on ne peut avouer et soutenir. Ces faciès de drame contiennent les déchirements et la misère dont sont victimes une multitude de gens. Ces “ Poids du Monde ” portent les sous-titres de Rwanda, Afghanistan, Colombie, Irak, Palestine, Darfour, Tibet, Venezuela, Paraguay, Haïti, Zaïre . . . et bien d’autres dont on ne connaît pas les noms. C’est ma façon exutoire de prendre part et d’exprimer mon profond désarroi devant la bestialité humaine, la misère des hommes. ” Le Poids du Monde ” est une manière de rendre compte de ces horreurs et atrocités de notre planète . . . (read more about his art here)
Christ- Roi (Le Coupet, Les Houches)
Built by George’s Serraz in 1933, and inaugurated in 1934 to celebrate peace, ⛪ Christ-Roi dominates the Le Coupeau hillside in Les Houches, at an altitude of 1300m! This statue of Christ came to be thanks to l’abbé des Houches, Claude-Marie Delassiat – he dedicated the statue to Pope Pius XI, an amateur alpinist, who often came to the area! It was built at the same time as other monumental sculptures of Christ in the world: Cristo Redentor in Corcovado (Rio, Brazil) or Cristo Re in Garajau, Madeira. And it is now signed up to be on the list of Monuments Historiques here in France!
some facts: it is the second highest concrete statue in France, at 25m high, and built using 500 tons of concrete! (the highest being La Virgine du Mas Rillier in Miribel (L’Ain), at 32,6m in height, and also sculpted by George Serraz. In summertime, there are sometimes masses held outdoors at this statue.
Passy, Plateau d’Assy & PLAINE-JOUX
Passy and Plateau d’Assy are known for their 🎨 art scene, which dates back a century ago, to the age of the tuberculosis sanitoriums! The ⛪️ church, Eglise Notre Dame de Toute Grâce, was built at this time, and the sanitoriums themselves are now regarded as works of art!
Around the sanitoriums, family hotels, shops and restaurants opened to accommodate visiting families . . . and the tuberculosis patients and their families needed a church, and hence in 1937, ⛪ Notre-Dame-de-Toute-Grâce, « l’église des malades », was built. This quirky church is well worth a visit. It was made famous by 🎨 the work of several renowned artists: the façade’s mosaic was created by painter and ceramist Fernand Léger; Georges Braque added a bronze tabernacle and Marc Chagall a baptistery.
In the 1930s, to deal with the thousands of cases of tuberculosis in France, Plateau d’Assy was chosen as the prime location to build 🏥 a dozen sanitoriums. This location in Passy was chosen because of:
- its altitude of between 1000m and 1350m kept it above the fog of the valley;
- the air here was dry and it had a sun-exposed midday orientation;
- temperatures were never extreme;
- it was protected from the wind by the dominant rock faces of the Fiz mountain chain;
- it was in the heart of the forest, with drinking water available
- . . . and – perhaps most importantly – its location was fairly isolated from local inhabitants (to prevent the spread of tuberculosis);
- . . . and yet it was still near a 🚉 train station, for the access of patients . . .
Once the plateau was chosen, prominent architects like Henri Jacques Le Même and Pol Abraham designed the sanitoriums, which would then host thousands of patients with tuburculosis. As tuberculosis affected both rich and poor, there was even a luxury sanitorium reserved for the very wealthy, with suites and fine dining – 🏨 the Grand Hôtel du Mont-Blanc. Famous people who spent time at the sanitoriums include: 🧬 Marie Curie, who died in 1934 at the Sancellemoz sanitorium, and 🎵 Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, who recovered from the disease, but whose wife Katya and daughter Ludmila both died from their infection.
Advances in medicine and the development of effective antibiotics in the treatment of tuberculosis rendered these sanitoriums obsolete by the 1960s. Known locally as 🛳 paquebots (large passenger ships), these sanitoriums were then largely converted into: rehabilitation & re-education centres, a holiday centre (the salmon pink Guébriant), and some were converted into apartments. The future for the recently abandoned sanitoriums is uncertain.
[ good to know: you can take a guided visit of some of the sanitoriums with a local guide; see Passy Tourisme for more information ]
Route de la sculpture contemporain
You’ll also find that 🎨 Plateau d’Assy abounds with sculptures, along the winding road from 💦 the river Arve up to 🏔 Plaine-Joux! In 1973, Passy was part of a huge exhibition: Sculptures en Montagne – Poème dans l’Espace. Inspired by the places and their history, and conceived by the poet Jean-Pierre Lemesle, the project brought together several well-known contemporary artists; from this exhibition, Passy kept 5 sculptures and acquired new ones – in the 1980s, these sculptures were placed at the exit of the A40 motorway and at the contreforts of the Fiz mountain chain. Today, across 12km, you can admire the open air museum of the Passy hillside up to Plaine-Joux / for more information and guided tours, see here or here;
Passerelle Himalayenne (Plateau d’Assy)
I find this 🌉 new suspension bridge in Plateau d’Assy a work of art! And, it will soon have sculptures adorning the entrance! Read more about this amazing place in MBFF article here.
Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy)
The 🌼 Jardin des Cimes in Plateau d’Assy is a magical and innovative alpine garden, with beautifully artistic touches throughtout / open from spring until early autumn, every day, 10h until 18h or 20h / for more information, see MBFF article here / price: adults 5€ to 6,50€, children (4 o 16 years) 3€ to 4€, under 4s FREE and family 14€ / good to know: there is a lovely café & restaurant (open to the public, no need to pay garden entrance) – Le Café du Jardin – serving seasonal dishes AND workshops for children on Saturdays / website;
address: 447 route du Docteur Davy, Plateau d’Assy, 74190, Passy / tel: +33 (0)4 50 21 50 87;
Cheminement en bord de l’Arve: parcours de l’eau artistique
Annual outdoor exhibition: « Exposition Montagn’Arts » (les quais de la Sallanche, Sallanches)
During the summer months, 📷 photos grace the quais of Sallanches, making for a lovely shaded buggy walk, with a café stop.
Saint-Gervais & Saint Nicolas de Véroce
Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc is an alpine town famous for its 💦 thermal springs, and yet it has also become a 🎨 pioneering contemporary artists’ hub, with its mayor Jean-Marc Peillex backing several innovative projects:
- 🎨 2KM3 – street art at this renovated multi-storey car-park (2017), swimming pool frescos, télécabines art and La Poste (2018) – see MBFF article here;
- 🎨 Pile Pont Expo – the exhibition space in one of the two pillars of the viaduct – ephemeral summer exhibitions / see here;
- 🎨 Maison Forte de Hautetour – the exhibition space;
- 🎨 Salle Géo Dorival – temporary exhibitions;
- 🎨 Parc Thermal (Le Fayet) – the open air museum (May to November every year) and other artwork adorn this glorious park / see MBFF article here for more details);
During the summer of 2017, twelve French and international artists transformed all 11 floors – and the façade – of the multi-storey car park in the centre of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains into a unique work of art: 🎨 2KM3, a collaborative street art project giving visitors a contemporary, living artwork, a whole new concept in how to integrate art into urban life! / FREE to park and visit! / see MBFF article for more photos.
🎨 2KM3: Acte II – this was the second stage of this wonderful art project . . . this time, the artists tackled the Saint-Gervais swimming pool, the northern façade of La Poste and the télécabines stations at Le Bettex.
Parc Thermal open air museum (Le Fayet)
🌳 Le Parc Thermal serves as an 🖼 open air museum, with the displaying artwork suspended from the trees. The exhibitions change yearly and run from May to November. It makes a buggy stroll even more enjoyable and cultural (there are plenty of quotes to read along the way!).
A couple of summers ago, the park hosted some magnificent granite sculptures from Denis Monfleur (one sculpture remains at the roundabout entrance to Saint-Gervais). I found these magnificent!
Festival Les Rencontres au Pays du Mont Blanc (Sallanches, Combloux, Megève, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Les Contamines-Montjoie)
Passionate about hiking, in 2017 Cendrine Dominguez created – as a continuation of the 📷 Mont-Blanc Photo Festival exhibition – a new exhibition and event « Les Rencontres au Pays du Mont-Blanc ® ». Her simple desire with this new incarnation of the festival was « de marcher dans la nature pour se trouver, se retrouver et se rencontrer. ». The festival includes: talks, meetings, walks, 📷 photography parcours, and films . . . / more information here;
« La Fète des Lumières » – end of December – (Saint-Gervais-les-Bains)
Every year, at the end of December, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains has a light festival, based on the concept of the bigger and more internationally-known annual ✨ « La Fète des Lumières » in Lyon, with some of the same light installations.
Le Plateau de la Croix (Saint-Nicolas-de-Véroce)
There are 🖼 regular outdoor exhibitions here . . . this can be enjoyed at the same time as a visit to the beautiful baroque church in this pretty alpine village.
Praz-sur-Arly & Megève
Praz-sur-Arly regularly has 🖼 an exhibition of outdoor sculptures or photos throughout the town and on the pistes . . . and you’ll find sculptures from pralinois Louis Chabaud (famous for his ” art singulier “) in ⛳️ the mini-golf at Les Belles;
In Praz-sur-Arly, there is an 🖼 outdoor exhibition (and at the Office de Tourisme) all about 🖼 le patrimoine touristique montagnard: « La naissance du tourisme montagnard » by Adrianna Wojcik Muffat Jeandet, until 15th September 2020 [ Culture au Pays du Mont-Blanc: « Adrianna Muffat Jeandet Wojcik est une artiste plasticienne née en Pologne et ayant grandi en France. Son travail explore ses souvenirs de paysages, ses relations étroites avec la montagne, ses mondes intérieurs et diverses facettes de son subconscient. Elle s’est immergée dans le patrimoine photographique pralin et dans l’histoire du tourisme populaire montagnard. ✍️ Dans ses créations contemporaines (dessin, techniques mixtes), l’artiste a imaginé des paysages et a représenté ses acteurs du passé. » ]
Les Contamines-Montjoie & Notre Dame-de-la-Gorge
🖼 Le Jardin de Samivel (Les Contamines-Montjoie) 🖼
🖼 Le Jardin de Samivel is an open-air museum, dedicated to Samivel, watercolour painter, poet, romance writer, film-maker, explorer; having visited Les Contamines-Montjoie from a young age, Samivel became very attached to the village and its inhabitants, and he later threw himself into protecting nature, and especially our mountain habitat / more information here;
address: located just behind the church;
« Nature au Sommet » photo exhibition (Parc de Loisirs du Pontet / Domaine Nordique in wintertime)
There is an 🖼 outdoor nature photo exhibition in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet . . .
🇫🇷 Further France 🇫🇷
Flaine‘s Patrimoine artistique et architectural du XXe siècle: 𝕄𝕦𝕤𝕖𝕖 𝕒 𝕔𝕚𝕖𝕝 𝕠𝕦𝕧𝕖𝕣𝕥 !
Flaine is well known for having an unusual ski resort aesthetic (for the area), and it hosts some fabulous sculptures and architecture by well known artists, like Picasso and Jean Dubuffet, Breuer and Vasarely. Read more about 🖼 Flaine’s quirky art scene here. And now you can enjoy the 🎨 art in Flaine by following a new jeu de piste called City Game (see here).
Parcours d’Art Contemporain du Giffre – sentier « ART et NATURE » (Vallée du Giffre)
The 🖼 Parcours d’Art Contemporain du Giffre – sentier « ART et NATURE » is set up between Morillon and Taninges, and passes through La Rivière-Enverse. It is a continuation of the notion of art in nature that starts at the ⛪️ Parc de Sculptures de la Chartreuse de Mélan (a progressive approach to contemporary art, in which each piece of art inorporates the artist’s view of the surrounding environment: the patrimoine and history of the site, the surrounding scenery of the Vallée du Giffre, the religious architecture of La Chartreuse de Mélan) and opens a dialogue between ancient history and modern sensibilities.
The sculptures are set along the Giffre river – an open air museum in a natural space, with information along the way / see here for more information;
address: 74440, La Rivière-Enverse;
« Annecy Paysages » – July ⇒ end of September 2020 – (Annecy)
🖼 « Annecy Paysages » is an ephemeral art exhibition that took root in Annecy over the summer of 2018, replacing the previous art and nature exhibition called Déambules . . . It is a visual and sensory stroll through lovely Annecy, and on the lakeside, with fabulous ephemeral art! / see this video for a taster visit! / website / FB page;
MBFF visited in 2019, and LOVED it!!! / see article here;
« Le Festival des Cabanes » – July ⇒ November 2020 – (Les Sources du Lac d’Annecy)
The « Festival des Cabanes » is an annual event at the Sources du Lac d’Annecy (Doussard nature reserve and other locations) 🗓 from July until mid-November . . . / architecture students and architects from all over the world build some unusual cabanes, rendering our nature even more magical! / over 160 mm², across 7 communes: Chevaline, Val de chaise, Doussard, Giez, Lathuile, Saint-Ferréol et Faverges/Seythenex / 12 orignial cabanes in 12 magical locations / original idea from David Hamerman / website;
📷 « Festiphoto de Menthon-Saint-Bernard » –15th June ⇒ 15th October 2020 – (Menthon Saint-Bernard, Lac d’Annecy) 📷
From 15th June until 15th October 2020, you can enjoy the 5th edition of 📷 Festiphoto de Menthon St Bernard, along la Rive Plein Soleil in Menthon Saint-Bernard. An open air gallery, with around 📷 80 photographs from French and international amateur and professionnal photographers (and this year with a particular nod to eight female photographers. A FREE exhibition! / good to know: you could combine a visit to this exhibition with a visit to the nearby castle of 🏰 Château du Menthon-Saint-Bernard!
Le Fabuleux Village ou la Légende des Flottins – December & January (Évian)
If you fancy a change from Christmas markets in December, then this event in Évian is perhaps for you? A 🏔 legend of fairy folks from the Alps (les Flottins), washed up on driftwood in Évian, and also a legend involving Santa paying them a visit . . . over 3 weeks, Evian is filled with actors, storytellers, musicians, circus performers, sculptors and spectacles! There are light shows and the Town Hall is lit!
❤️ coup de cœur ❤️- highly, highly RECOMMENDED by the MBFF tribe! The flottins are so unique, and we had a FABULOUS outing last year!
Sentier Art & Nature (LandArt) at La Ferme de Chosal (Copponex)
🐔 La Ferme de Chosal set up 🎨 a LandArt parcours in 2010, placing art and culture an the heart of their social insertion project. 🎨 Le Pôle Land Art Départemental aims to open culture to everyone, and in particular to marginalised people who might otherwise find difficulty in accessing culture (handicapped, socially disadvantaged) / read more about 🎨 the LandArt project at the farm here; 🗺 map of trail: https://www.alteralpatourisme.com/medias/images/prestataires/37700-plan_sentier_art_et_nature.pdf
🇨🇭 SWITZERLAND 🇨🇭
Village des Branchés at VerticAlp (Finhaut)
🌳 Le Village des Branchés des Montuires is a magical world, constructed out of branches and moss, and it was created by Tribal Cabane – it was one of the many highlights of our family visit to VerticAlp! Leave yourself plenty of time to stroll through the village and let your imagination flow free . . . you can either partake in the little 🎨 creative ateliers (drawing, writing, music), or you can simply sit and dream and admire the views . . . / see here for more details / and read about MBFF’s trip to VerticAlp here;
🎨 Fondation Pierre Gianadda (Martigny) 🎨
This fabulous museum in Martigny hosts 🖼 a couple of temporary exhibitions every year, and in addition to these, the building itself is an architectural gem, and the sculpture garden is lovely, the leaves on the trees changing with each season (it is hence worth visiting this museum on a fine weather day, and not reserving it for a rainy day option!). The 🖼 Fondation Pierre Gianadda is three museums in one: there is the space dedicated to the 🖼 temporary exhibitions, there is a collection of Gallo-Roman artefacts (Musée Gallo-Romain), and there is a room in the basement with a collection of vintage cars (about fifty vehicles dating from 1897 to 1939)! The museum is also used to host classical concerts / website / 🗓 opening hours: daily, from 10h to 18h November to June and from 9h to 19h June until November / price: adults CHF18, children CHF10 and families CHF38 / read about MBFF’s visit here;
🖼 current exhibition: « Chefs d’œuvre suisses. Collection Christoph Blocher » – “ depuis 1979, l’ancien conseiller fédéral Christoph Blocher a réuni une des plus prestigieuses collections d’art suisse, dont les points forts sont Anker et Hodler. La collection comprend aussi leurs prédécesseurs, leurs contemporains et leurs successeurs. L’exposition de Martigny actualise ainsi l’époque héroïque de l’art suisse à partir de la Confédération de 1848 jusqu’au jeune Alberto Giaocometti ” / 🗓> 14th June 2020;
address: rue du Forum 59, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 722 39 78;
Exposition en plein air: John-Francis Lecoultre (Evolène, Valais) ⇒ 1st November 2020
John-Francis Lecoultre is a pastellist, with an open-air exhibition between Les Farquès and the Lac d’Arbey in the Val d’Hérens (Évolène/VS). Canvasses hung from the trees, and originals to be seen at l’Atelier Othal (rue des Châteaux 2 in Sion) / FB page here;
Genève Sculpture Garden – Biennale – 12th June ⇒ 10th September 2020 (Le Parc des Eaux-Vives)
The first edition of « Sculpture Garden » ran in the summer 2018 in the lovely 🌳 Le Parc des Eaux-Vives – sculptures and performances, and a parcours to follow! FREE to visit / more information here;
Trix & Robert Haussmann, architect-designers have worked together since 1967, and have added a piece to this year’s exhibition:
Botanical Gardens (Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques Genève)
There are sometimes 🖼 exhibitions at these fabulous botanical gardens located near 💦 Lac Léman – either indoors in the greenhouses or library, or outdoors in the nature . . .
✨ Festival Geneva Lux – January & February (centre of Geneva)
« Festival Geneva Lux » (Geneva) – light installations and festivals have become more and more popular (and innovative!) over the last few years. Geneva’s light show happens in late January: 21 œuvres lumineuses réalisées spécialement pour cet événement investiront la ville de Genève. Le Geneva Lux est un festival de lumières organisé par le Département de la sécurité et des sports de la Ville de Genève, sous la responsabilité de la Conseillère administrative Marie Barbey-Chappuis. Retrouvez toutes les informations sur www.genevalux.ch “;
Parc Stagni (Chêne-Bougeries, near Geneva) 🌳
MBFF discovered the 🌳 Parc Stagni and its playground in Chêne-Bougeries a few years ago on a crisp and sunny autumn day, when we went to the fabulous 🖼 Ô Cézanne exhibition next door in the Espace Nouveau Vallon! From the fabulous playground (replete with a big tree trunk to climb and sandpit), there is a secret doorway which leads Parc Stagni – perfect for running! Have you heard of Disc-Golf? This is a hybrid sport, somewhere between the rules of golf and frisbee-throwing! And you can play it in the Parc Stagni for FREE! There are also sculptures to admire in the gardens next the playground;
address: Parc Stagni, 1224, Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland;
Festival Lausanne Lumières – November ⇒ December every year – (Lausanne)
Every year in December, you can experience 🎆 Lausanne in ” another light ” during this light festival . . . 10+ contemporary light installations are created in the centre of town (places: de la Gare, de la Louve and de l’Europe) / the lovely Christmas market Bô Noel runs alongside this event / website and FB page;
Promenade sur les Quais (Montreux lakeside)
A few years ago, MBFF headed to Montreux for its 🎄 Marché de Noël. Rather than park in one of the allocated car parks outsided of town, we ended up parking just out of the the centre – our car park was right next to the lake and a great little playground! And from the playground, we took our time strolling down 💦 the lakeside path towards the bustle of the market! Along this lakeside path we found more playgrounds and music and jazz-themed sculptures (a nod to Montreux’s famous jazz festival), some permanent and some temporary. Among the permanent sculptures is a bronze statue of Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), which has resided in Montreux since 1996 (and is permanently adorned with flowers!); Freddie lived in Montreux, loved the city, and recorded Queen albums there. Temporary exhibitions are staged along the lakeshore in the summer, with the Montreux Biennale – the perfect location to present work, with 💦 Lac Léman and the Alps as a background! (good to know: you can take a Freddie Mercury tour; see here) / more information about the Montreux Biennale here (next exhibition in 2021!) and the Montreux quai here;
Château de Vullierens sculptures (Vullierens)
A visit to the 🏰 Château & Domaine de Vullierens is an absolutely FABULOUS FAMILY VISIT: a manor house, 🎋 beautiful iris gardens, 🌳 a magical forest for children, views of the mountains . . . and over 80 sculptures are dotted across the 30 hectares of land, from 21 Swiss and international artists! (read more about the sculptures and sculptors here);
The 🏰 Domaine de Vullierens has belonged to the same family for over 700 years, with the Mestral family residing here ever since the completion of the current castle by Gabriel-Henri de Mestral in 1745. A 🎋 collection of irises at Vullierens was created by Doreen Bovet, the Californian wife (and mother of the current owner of Vullierens!) of Bernard Bovet de Mestral, and the 🎋iris gardens attract many visitors (and are a work of art in themselves). The sculptures in the gardens fit so aesthetically, and are a beautiful addition to the gardens – Étienne Krähenbühl‘s Le Bing Bang is donged every day at at 15h! Children will delight in 🦎 Le Royaume du Roi Lézard, a magical forest with so much to discover (be sure to ask for the map at the entrance). A visit to these beautiful gardens comes highly recommended by MBFF (article to come!) / see website for more details;
address: Les Jardins du Château de Vullierens, CH-1115, Vullierens, Switzerland;
🇮🇹 Italy (Aosta Valley) 🇮🇹
Forte di Bard sculptures (Bard)
MBFF loves this incredible fortress that dominates the Aosta Valley, and is all at once (since 2006):
- 🖼 an incredible temporary exhibition space;
- 🖼 permanent museums;
- ☕️ and hospitality on-site (café, restaurant and hotel);
🏰 The fortress that we now see and visit was originally built by the House of Savoy in the early 1800s as a military stronghold and it has remained largely intact since its construction! Formed by three defence stations that are positioned at different levels on the rock, the stronghold hoped to repel any army advances like that of 🇫🇷 Napoléon’s siege of 1800 (he actually succeeded in razing to the ground the original stronghold!). A century later, the fortress eventually became army property, fell into disuse by 1975 and was then acquired by the Autonomous Region of Valle d’Aosta in 1900. Fast forward a few decades, and a regeneration project was then conceived . . .
The 🏰 Forte di Bard, together with the pretty medieval village of Bard, has become one of the 🖼 principal cultural centres of the Western Alps. As well as 📷 temporary photography and art exhibitions (like the yearly 📷 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition), there are sculptures to see throughout the fortress – if you choose to walk back down the paths (after taking the funiculars UP), then you will be rewarded with lots of art! / see website;
address: Forte di Bard, 1020 Bard (AO), Valle d'Aosta, Italy
Étroubles outdoor museum – « museo a cielo aperto » (near Aosta)
In 2005, the medieval village of Étroubles became 🖼 an outdoor museum, thanks to a collaboration with the Fondation Gianadda (Martigny) . . . its ruelles turned into 🖼 a permanent art gallery, exhibiting the works of some world famous artists. This project was an attempt to relaunch the economy of the local area, due to the shutting of ski stations.
Among the 🇮🇹 Italian artists exhibiting are: the painter and sculptor Salvatore Sebaste (one of the major representatives of the art of the Italian Mezzogiorno); Ferrara sculptors Alberto Gambale and Sergio Zanni; the Milanese painter Carlo Brenna; and the Florentine artist Andrea Granchi. Opening and closing the exhibition are the wooden trails of Aosta Valley sculptors Giulio Schiavon and Siro Viérin, and several creations by Chicco Margaroli (La Via Francigena,)) and Franco Balan. In 2006 two works by artist Italo Bolano, of Elba island, were introduced.
🇫🇷 French artists include: Albert Féraud (the most famous living French sculptor); Guido Magnone; and the painter Evelyne Otis Bacchi. The French section is enriched with a work by the late painter Norbert Verzotto, donated by his family.
🇨🇭 Swiss contributors include: Hans Erni, the sculptor Yves Dana and 2010 saw the inaugural bronze works of Michel Favre of Martigny: Amitié alpine.
The exhibition also features Assaf Mekhtiev, native of Azerbaijan and resident in Aosta.
Since 2007, in the summertime Étroubles organises 🖼 some temporary exhibitions, with works by some of the most famous artists of the last two centuries: Chagall, Chillida, Claudel, Degas, Debuffet, Favre, Alberto Giacometti, Picasso, Rodin and Szafran.
⇒ more information here;