Fondation Carmignac : An Art Collection on an Island in the South of France
L’île de Porquerolles is the unlikely home of a French art foundation’s private art collection in the south of France. As part of the Îles d’Hyères group of islands in the Var department of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Porquerolles is the home of just 200 people – yet it receives thousands of tourists each day during the height of the summer season!
The island is a fabulous place to explore as it remains relatively underdeveloped, due to being majority-owned by the French state. One of Jean-Luc Godard’s most famous films “Pierrot Le Fou” was partially filmed on Île de Porquerolles, too, which proves its timeless beauty.
For me, the main reason I wanted to visit the island was to see the Fondation Carmignac – a private art collection which just opened this past June!
Created in 2000 by art collector Édouard Carmignac, the Fondation Carmignac focuses on managing a private art collection of nearly 300 pieces, and a Photojournalism Award which it bestows annually. The Villa Carmignac displays the collection to the public and hosts various events. It manages works by famous artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, and Jean-Michel Basquiat!
Incredibly, I visited the Villa Carmignac just ONE day after the French President and his wife.
Nevertheless, I had a fantastic time during the 6 or so hours I was there!
Here’s a couple tips if you’d like to visit the Fondation Carmignac, which is open every day through November 4th of this year!
How to Get to the Fondation Carmignac and Île de Porquerolles
I stayed in Toulon, and took a round trip ferry from the port directly to the island. The trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, one way. There are two companies which go to Porquerolles from Toulon:
They both cost the same price (29 euros) for a round trip ticket, however Bateliers de la Côte d’Azur departs a half hour earlier in the morning! That company was sold out for the entire week when I went, so I ended up taking Bateliers de la Rade at 9:30am.
Definitely try to book as far in advance as possible during the high season!
Be sure to visit the Office of Tourism of Toulon (or wherever you are staying), as they sell a limited quantity of discounted tickets for these companies. You can save 3 euros per ticket. Unfortunately these sell out fast, and I wasn’t able to take advantage of this, but if you go a few days in advance, you might have better luck than me!
You can also reach Porquerolles from the following ports:
- Hyères – Tour Fondue with TLV
- Hyères – Private Taxi with Bateaux Taxi (special rates are apparently available for the foundation’s visitors)
- Sanary – Croix du Sud
- Saint-Tropez & Sainte Maxime – Bateaux Verts
- Saint-Raphaël – Bateaux Saint Raphael
Once you get to the island, the foundation entrance is just a short, 15 minute walk from the harbor!
When to Visit the Fondation Carmignac
I recommend visiting the museum in the morning when there are fewer visitors. The foundation actually limits the number of people who enter to just 50 per half-hour.
This year, the Foundation is open until November 4th according to the following hours:
September : 10am – 7pm
October & November: 10am – 6pm
Be sure to arrive about 2 hours before closing time at the latest!
Next year, it will be open from the beginning of April through early November.
If you wish to visit in the afternoon, free guided tours are available from Tuesday to Sunday at 2pm.
Buying Tickets to the Fondation Carmignac
You should definitely reserve your tickets a few days ahead of time on the website!
Tickets are 15 euros for one adult, with reduced rates available.
The time you select entitles you to enter during the 30-minutes which follow it.
I selected 10:30 am (which allowed me to enter from 10:30-11am), but I actually arrived 5 minutes past 11 as my boat trip took a bit longer than expected, and thankfully the guy at the gate had no problem with my tardiness.
What to Bring to the Fondation Carmignac
Bags: The Villa has large lockers where you can store your bags if you need to, which is super handy. Be sure to bring a 1 euro coin with you to open/close the locker itself, but you will get this back at the end, so it’s free to store your stuff. The first locker I found had a bug inside it, so take a peek before locking your stuff especially if you’re storing food!
Shoes: I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes as the grounds are quite expansive and unpaved!
Food: Generally speaking you should bring food with you to the island, as food there is quite expensive. The Foundation offers a “Buvette” where you can eat your lunch on-site!
Other than that, you don’t really need much except a camera and a bottle of water in case it’s very hot out!
“Sea of Desire” Exhibition at the Fondation Carmignac
The Foundation recommends you start viewing the exhibition from inside the building first and then explore the surrounding grounds.
The first exhibition that has been produced is called “Sea of Desire” and refers to a large scale outdoor artwork produced by Ed Ruscha.
At the entrance, you’ll find a gift shop, and when you walk inside there are bookcases to the left. This is where you’ll keep your shoes while you explore the indoor part of the exhibition. Yep, that’s right – you will explore the collection barefoot while you’re there! Only inside, of course. Outside, shoes are definitely necessary!
The building is really cool inside. You start out by walking downstairs to the first level, where you explore the different rooms filled with art. Certain windows have beautiful shapes and create a lovely view of the surrounding grounds. You’ll then walk back upstairs for the second part of the exhibition, and then make your way outdoors to see the outdoor art.
In total, I spent about 3 hours exploring the entire space! I think you could probably do everything in just 2 hours though if you move quickly.
What was cool about the indoor part of the exhibition was there was quite a few ancient art pieces juxtaposed against really contemporary or modern art works!
After the indoor portion, it was time to head outside to explore the museum grounds!
Plan your trip to the Fondation Carmignac today!