Weddings are such special occasions and we were lucky to recently visit ‘La Salle des Mariages’ (Menton Marriage Hall) a hidden gem in the French Riviera where between 1957-58, French poet and avant-garde artist Jean Cocteau painted large coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling in the town hall of the seaside town of Menton. Join us as we explore ‘La Salle des Mariages’…
As you enter you are immediately engulfed by visual poetry. The mural is a colourful and dreamlike depiction of lovers besotted by romance and marriage surrounded by family and friends, as well as Menton folklore and Greek mythology. It is dramatically contrasted with dark marble floors, rich red velvet drapes, furniture and leopard patterned carpets. The space is dimly lit with wrought iron floor lamps. You feel like you’ve stepped into a theatre with such an unusual and bold interior scheme, juxtaposed with the pastel colour palette. Talk about an entrance!
The focal point is at the front of the room depicting a couple gazing affectionately at each other under the bright Mediterranean sun. They are each wearing hats to protect them from the hot yellow sun rays and if you get up close, you’ll notice a delightfully whimsical detail of his fish shaped eye, referencing his life as a fisherman. In front is a table with three red velvet chairs, one for the mayor and two for witnesses. There are two chairs facing the front for the bride and groom.
Cocteau illustrates wedding scenes of family and friends celebrating, folklore and the Greek mythological figures. With the legendary musician Orpheus and his wife Eurydice on the walls, Cocteau achieves joyful movement through his rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling lines and spirals. An arabesque technique is evident in his practice. His dreamy mural exudes whimsy fun with his pastel palette, where his use of yellows and orange reflect the bright sun and illuminating symbolism of celebration and prosperity. The blue and white colours reference the Menton flag as well as the glistening ocean of the French Riviera.
This was such an incredible and rare opportunity to be immersed in Cocteau’s beautiful work in such an unusual setting. This is a must to visit when you’re in the South of France. It reminded us of how important interiors are in creating memorable moments.
Mairie de Menton (Town Hall, Menton)
Address: 17 Rue de la République, 06500 Menton