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 passing seasons: 📷 photography, 🎨 sculptures, 🖼 canvases . . .
This article explores some of the 🏔 OUTDOOR SPACES au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond) used to showcase this art!
Colour code for listings:
Pays du Mont-Blanc
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
Ephemeral exhibitions au Pays du Mont-Blanc (& beyond)
Here are some exhibitions that come back on an annual basis every summertime or wintertime . . .
Summer outdoor exhibition: « Exposition Montagn’Arts » (les quais de la Sallanche, Sallanches) – July ⇒ September
You can stroll up and down the quais in summertime and enjoy a photographic exhibition . . .
Saint-Gervais & Le Fayet
Plein Air : parcours d’art à ciel ouvert (Parc Thermal, Le Fayet) – mid July ⇒ September
The Parc Thermal is a lovely place to escape the summer heat, and even more lovely for a couple of months with the outdoor exhibition Plein Air . . .
« Lumières Saint-Gervais » – end of December – (Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc)
Every year, at the end of December, Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc has ✨ a wonderful 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.
« 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 . . .
This year is also the year of Samivel
« Annecy Paysages » – July ⇒ end of September (Annecy)
🖼 « Annecy Paysages » is an ephemeral summer art exhibition (and the parcours pérenne can be visited now); a visual and sensory stroll through lovely Annecy, and along the lakeside, with fabulous ephemeral art! / see this video for a taster visit!
[ ⇒ see MBFF article for more information ]
« Festiphoto de Menthon-Saint-Bernard » mid June ⇒ mid November 2022 – (Menthon Saint-Bernard, Lac d’Annecy)
From June until October, you can enjoy the 📷 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 / 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 Festival des Cabanes » – July ⇒ November (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;
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 driftwod 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 also illuminated!
❤️ coup de cœur ❤️- highly, highly RECOMMENDED by the MBFF tribe! The flottins are so unique, and we had a FABULOUS outing last year!
Genève Sculpture Garden – Biennale – 2022, 2024 (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;
Village des Branchés at VerticAlp (Finhaut) – summertime & autumn
[ note : Verticalp is not open this 2022 season ! ]
🌳 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 ]
Ailyos sculpture exhibition (Leysin, Vaud) – July until October 2022
The 5th edition of the outdoor sculpture exhibition, with the theme this year of Totem. More than a dozen French artists, and also a handful from Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic and Germany will be exhibiting their work in the villages and mountains of Vaud, in Aigle, les Diablerets, Leysin, Yvorne and les Mosses . . .
Saype à Villars (Vaud) – until end of July 2022
Painted (biodegradable paint) onto the grass across 2500 m2, the picture of a little girl making a cairn out of a pile of books . . . Saype (Guillaume Legros) is a pioneering Franco-Swiss artist in a movement that brings together street art and land art, and he creates giant, poetic ephemeral works across the globe on grass, on land, on snow.
The work is visible from the summit of the Grand Chamossaire, and especially from the Lac de Bretaye, and the site is accessible to hikers. Access via Télé Villars-Gryon Diablerets.
The artist Saype explains « Le cairn est un point de repère pour guider les randonneurs en montagne » . . . « C’est une création avec des éléments naturels qui font écho à mon travail de land art. J’aime la poésie de ces lieux perchés dans la montagne, où l’œuvre vient complètement interagir avec son environnement. »
✨ 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 “;
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;
All year exhibitions au Pays du Mont-Blanc (& beyond)
Place de l’Aiguille & outside Office de Tourisme (Chamonix)
There are occasionally 📷 photo exhibitions in these two spots, one next to the tourist office and the other 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 (Switzerland and Italy), 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 mountains to the burning deserts of the Sahara);
address: Place du Triangle de l'Amitié, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
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.
La Poya (Vallorcine) outdoor art
You’ll find wooden scultpures dotted along your path through the hamlet of La Poya and into the woods – the origins of this artwork is the summer art & theatre festival La Nuit des Ours, which has been running for a few years. It is joyous.
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!
Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Toute-Grâce (Plateau d’Assy)
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 (from Passy to Plaine-Joux)
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! It now also has sculptures adorning the entrance!
[ ⇒ read more about this amazing place in MBFF article here ]
Jardin des Cimes (Plateau d’Assy) – spring to autumn
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;
🌼 summer 2021 artists in residence au Jardin des Cimes: Artifex en Horto
Cheminement en bord de l’Arve: parcours de l’eau artistique
As you walk along 💦 the Arve river from Mountain Store, you’ll be rewarded with some sculptures that explore the surrounding nature . . .
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.
Le Parc Thermal (Le Fayet)
As well as the summertime exhibition Plein Air, there is 🖼 an outdoor exhibition about the history of the thermal baths, located near the duck pond:
. . . and see above for details about the ephemeral summer exhibition Plein Air:
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
Megève: an outdoor museum
Megève old town is a museum in itself, with sculptures adorning every square and around many corners . . . the best way to appreciate the art is to just wander . . .
Jardin Alpin (Megève)
There are regular photo exhibitions in this new space next to the Novotel.
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 with works by Adrianna Wojcik Muffat Jeandet: 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;
2022 is the year of Samivel ! (see above)
address: located just behind the church;
🇫🇷 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 Taninges & Morillon, 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;
✨ Alta Lumina (Les Gets) – over the main holidays
” Un parcours nocturne enchanté par-delà les montagnes ” . . . Conceived by Moment Factory, and brought to you by Les Gets Tourisme and Auvergne Rhône Alpes Tourisme, Alta Lumina is a unique immersive night time stroll in the forest of Les Gets. The immersive trail tells the story of a music-making colporteur (a peddler), who with his mongolfière (hot air balloon), wants to share his melodies beyond the Alps and to faraway lands. As a spectator, you follow the colporteur on his travels, and you’ll be fully immersed – through storms and more tranquil settings – on an enchanted son et lumière night-time journey through the forest.
[ ⇒ to read about MBFF’s 2022 visit in the snow, see separate MBFF article here ]
« Annecy Paysages » – parcours pérenne (Annecy)
You can now visit some of the works of art all year round in Annecy . . .
Le Fabuleux Village ou la Légende des Flottins – December & January (Évian)
There are some sculptures on show all 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 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 / 🗓 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: « Caillebotte: impressionniste et moderne »;
website address: rue du Forum 59, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 722 39 78;
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 . . .
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;
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
Rifugio Mont Fallère (Saint-Pierre, Aosta)
All the way to this mountain refuge, you’ll spot little wooden creatures hidden behind branches and stones : owls, hawks, hares, groundhogs, woodpeckers, capercaillies, foxes and eagles . . . and you might spot some curious gnomes watching you too. Most of those works of art (about 100/120 sculptures) were carved by the Siro Viérin.
” Approaching the refuge, the sculptures become bigger: here is the grandfather indicating the right path to the shelter to his nephews while not too far away there is a couple of chamois and ibex, but also a villager who – caught by a sudden urge – hides behind a stone. While walking, you will feel like being on a treasure hunt among wooden sculptures and the scents of the mountain. ”
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 ]
Musée à ciel ouvert de Chemp: un village, “ Un rêve porté par le vent ” (Val d’Oùta, Aosta Valley)
A mountain village forgotten in time . . . and then brought back to its former glory by the hands of Pino (Angelo Giuseppe Bettoni), his wife Paola and their friend Silvano Ferretti. Together they toiled and mended the old farms, and then Pino created new sculptures for this magical place . . . Soon, more sculptors added their unique work to this village, and soon the village became an open air museum, with the new sculptures blending with the old farms of stone and wood
where to find Chemp: located at the opening of the Valley du Lys, in the commune of Perloz. Accessible from le Pont-Saint-Martin. Perloz is a pretty village, with a fresco-covered church and two castles and an old press;
more information: here;