Banyuls: sea, sun, art and Aristide Maillol

Banyuls-sur-Mer is a seaside resort whose beach is located around a natural bay and port, on the Mediterranean coast in Languedoc-Roussillon, just north of the border with Spain.

The town's beach has been awarded the prestigious "Blue Flag" award for its cleanliness and facilities.

A natural bay in front of the town, a mixture of sand and pebbles, Bayuls symbolises the Côte Vermeille.

For a quieter area of the coast and small beaches follow the coastal path for a short distance to reach the natural environment of Taillelauque cove and Tancade cove.

Back in the town centre, the most interesting part of Banyuls is in the narrow streets of the Cap d'Osne area.

These continue up to the hill, as the tourist office has designed a route through these attractive narrow streets.

 

Things to see in Banyuls

The Church of the Rectory is the most interesting historical monument in the city. It is a picturesque little church in Roman style that was built in the 12th century.

Above the town, the Mediterranean Garden of Mas de la Serre is a one hectare park filled with plants from Mediterranean climates around the world. Banyuls also houses a seafront aquarium filled with plants and fish found in the surrounding waters.

Banyuls is also well known for the production of local wine, with several caves where it can be tasted - the most popular being La Grande Cave and La Cave du Mas Reig.

Several points along the nearby coast offer beautiful views of the rocky coastline, including Cap l'Abeille and Cap Rederis.

Another good detour is the road from Banyuls to the Madeloc Tower, built in the 13th century, offering the best views in the area.

Not forgetting the spectacular scenery offered by the Col de Banyuls, on the border between France and Spain.

 

Aristide Maillol child of the country

As you explore the town you will notice some interesting statues sculpted by Aristide Maillol, a local artist born here in 1861. When you look at the statues, sculptures of female bodies with the generous curves that earned him his great success, you can't help but think that they influenced later artists like Henry Moore or Alberto Giacometti.

Several of his works can also be seen in the city, including his "Pacifist War Memorial", behind the town hall, and the "Lying Girl", along the alleys that bear his name.

Aristide Maillol moved to Paris at the age of 20 to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris, under the direction of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.

His first works, tapestries, were made in Banyuls, under the influence of contemporaries such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes or Paul Gauguin.

The museum is located in an isolated farmhouse in the Roume valley, 4 km from the town centre of Banyuls-sur-Mer, in La Métairie, where the sculptor Aristide Maillol spent the last years of his life and died.

It is dedicated to his life and works including paintings, ceramics and sculptures. One can also discover his workshop, and finally his daily life within its walls, which allows us to better understand his path and his work, as well as his tomb, decorated with the statue "The Mediterranean".


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To go further....

Banyuls, Collioure, Maillol, Portrait d'un terroir

Banyuls notre village, "Poble meu, poble nostre" - Histoire populaire de Banyuls par l'image, tome III : Le paradis perdu

Aristide Maillol

Histoire de ma vie racontée à Alain Jaubert

Modèle et inspiratrice de Maillol, résistante, collectionneuse, galeriste, Dina Vierny, à force de volonté, d'enthousiasme et de liberté a fait de sa vie un vrai roman. Née en 1919 près d'Odessa, émigrée en France, Dina côtoie chez ses parents l'intelligentsia russe de Paris. L'année de ses seize ans, un ami signale sa ressemblance avec les sculptures de Maillol, qui l'invite à son atelier de Marly-le-Roi. Elle y rencontre Van Dongen, Vuillard, Le Corbusier, Gide, Valéry, Bonnard, Matisse. En 1940, Dina est à Banyuls-sur-Mer où elle pose pour Maillol. Elle fréquente Marseille où André Breton et ses amis se sont réfugiés. Elle participe aux filières d'émigration pour les antifascistes européens. Arrêtée à Paris en 1943 par la Gestapo, elle est sauvée par Maillol qui fait intervenir Arno Breker, le sculpteur officiel du IIIe Reich. Avec le soutien de Matisse, Dina ouvre en 1947 une galerie. Elle organise les premières expositions de Poliakoff, et montre aussi Dufy, Kandinsky, Laurens, Picasso... En 1964, Dina offre à l'Etat français 18 sculptures monumentales de Maillol, qu'André Malraux, ministre de la Culture, fait placer dans les jardins des Tuileries. En 1995, elle inaugure enfin la Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol.

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