Mougins is a 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 Tourism) or the enamel-tile plan of the village.
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 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, 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 is not really a village, but the centerpiece 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. A roundabout (traffic circle) at the entrance/exit of the Cannes-Grasse limited-access highway joins these two areas. 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.
Other 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, 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.
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.
Photography Museum. 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.
Automobile Museum. 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, emphasizing sometimes themes such as "Ferraris", "Formula One Cars", etc. Twice a year there is 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 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 is located a couple of km west of Mougins village.
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.