• Photo: Christian Musat / Shutterstock

Vallauris

This ancient village in the low hills above the coast, dominated by a blocky Renaissance château, owes its four-square street plan to a form of medieval urban renewal. Ravaged and eventually wiped out by waves of the plague in the 14th century, the village was rebuilt by 70 Genovese families imported by the Abbaye de Lérins in the 16th century to repopulate the abandoned site. They brought with them a taste for Roman planning—hence the grid format in the Old Town—but more important, a knack for pottery making. Their skills and the fine clay of Vallauris were a perfect marriage, and the village thrived as a pottery center for hundreds of years. In the late 1940s Picasso found inspiration in the malleable soil and settled here, giving the flagging industry new life. Sadly, the town has developed a more shady reputation (so keep your hands on your purse) despite Saudi's King Salman owning a 1930s villa where Churchill and Hollywood celebs stayed, that runs along 1 km (½ mile) of Vallauris's beachfront.

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