Jean-Marie Massaud’s Côte d’Azur

The French industrial designer and architect’s passion for technical innovation and creative invention has inspired projects as varied as the Archibald chair for Poltrona Frau and Toyota's ME.WE electric car

Jean-Marie Massaud in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Côte d’Azur
Jean-Marie Massaud in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Côte d’Azur | Image: Albert Tübke

“I was introduced to this part of the Côte d’Azur by the architect Jean Nouvel, who has since become a friend. My family lives in La Colle-sur-Loup, which is just 15 minutes from Nice and close to Italy, where I often work. It is in the hills, set back from the coast, with wonderful views of the sea, and my weekends are all about enjoying nature, the mountains and the water with my wife Yannick and two boys, Oscar, 13, and Noah, nine.

After an early breakfast of seasonal fruit, warm bread and local citrus jam, we’ll go to the Marché Saleya in the old part of Nice. At 8.30am the place is empty and Yannick and I will buy white flowers for the house and enough fresh fruit and veg for three or four days. The boys will come too and we’ll let them run around the narrow streets near the market and Rue Rossetti, which is a great place for after-dinner drinks.

Then, come good weather or bad, we’ll head to the beach. We’ll either go out on the boat – a Kelt White Shark – or go paddleboarding and waterskiing, followed by lunch at Coco‑Beach. This amazing seafood restaurant is really a boat clinging to the cliff top. It hasn’t changed since the 1930s, is elegant yet relaxed, and has sensational views. Local fish is cooked over an open fire while the boys play among the rocks below. Or we might eat at La Petite Maison. For me, this is the best food in town.

In winter, we might ski in the afternoon – as France’s Valberg or Italy’s Limone are only an hour or so away – and then in the evening we’ll visit the Opéra de Nice, or the Théâtre National de Nice or drive to Cannes, where we recently saw the astonishing ballet Les Milles et Une Nuits, choreographed by the genius Angelin Preljocaj. Sometimes we’ll cook at home: we have a large place – a white cube, surrounded by pine and oak forests – and we like to have lots of people over. Surprisingly, we have a kind of Silicon Valley nearby called Sophia Antipolis, as well as several technology colleges and institutes, and I have met many tech wizards and creative masterminds since we moved here.

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Sunday mornings are usually spent skiing or on the boat. Lunch might then be some soup at our local restaurant, the Colombe d’Or, which is not just an incredible hotel and restaurant but an art gallery too, with pieces by Braque, Matisse and Léger.

If the weather is poor, we have plenty of other incredible galleries and museums close by, too. We’ll visit the contemporary Fondation Maeght and Galerie Catherine Issert, both in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, or the Musée Matisse in Nice and Musée Fernand Léger in Biot.

I’m not a collector, nor am I thirsty to buy things, but I will pick up pieces as and when I see them. Because of all the big houses in the area, the antiques quarter on Rue Catherine Ségurane is often brimming with brilliant finds, such as mid-20th-century ceramics, limited-edition design wonders and prototypes. Galerie Harter at No 36 is our favourite.

On Sunday afternoon I’ll take the boys biking in the forest near our house. It’s wild up there and there’s a BMX track in the Parc de la Guérinière. I don’t usually participate – I prefer my Specialized Sirrus Carbon mountain bike, which is perfect for cycling to the beach and back.

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I know in the future the boys will want to live in the city, but we have two or three more years’ bucolic bliss before then. In the meantime, being at home with them is very special.”

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