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Jean Cocteau Mariage Hall

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Menton museums are open everyday except Tuesdays and Bank Holidays.

This Mariage Hall was designed and decorated by Jean Cocteau, in 1957 and 1958. Everything you see in this room was signed by the artist: the lamps, the chairs, the panther-skin rugs, the doors, the curtains...

All mariages of Menton residents take place in this hall since a wedding ceremony performed in the town Hall is the only one legally recognised in France. Should the Couple wish to be married in Church or at home, they may, but the only ceremony which counts for the state is the performed here. "Tired of pen and paper - wrote Cocteau -I undertook a mountain cure on the scaffolding so that through bodily tiredness I would restore my mind. My impulsive acceptance came from my embracing the motto: «à I’impossible je suis tenu» - in
face of the impossible I go on.

"The Town Hall struck me as rather unsympathetic. I needed to play tricks with it, to try to adapt the style of the turn of the century on the Riviera, with its villas mostly now gone, painted with sheaths of iris, algae and heads of waving hair. Such was my point of departure, from whick I was carried far at the command of that "other self" wich dictates what we must do."

On the wall behind the table one can see two young people facing one another - this depicts the engagement. The couple are trying to read their future in each other’s eyes. Many symbols of Menton are evident in this panel. The girl is wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat called a "Capeline". This was the head-gear formerly worn by the women of this region. Above her head is the sun, symbol of our town, coloured yellow and orange to represent the citrus fruits for which Menton is justly famous.

In the back-ground, the sea is shown as a labyrinthe of pale blue and white lines, these being the colour of the town. It is easily seen that the young man is a fisherman by his typical Mediterranean fisherman’s bonnet, and by his eye which is drawn in the form of a fish.

On the right wall we can see an Oriental wedding in an imaginary village. Oriental, perhaps, because the first comers to these shores were Saracens. The young couple are leaving on a white horse. Over the door, the gypsy girl waits to show them the by-roads. Behind the horse stand three people bearing wedding gifts of flowers and fruit; this may be reminiscent of the three wise men of the East.

Next to this trio is a slave; dancing and singing, rejoicing with the wedding guests. Beside him stands the mother-in-law, and it is quite obvious from her expression that she disapproves of the marriage. By her side, we see yet another unhappy woman - she is the former girlfriend of the groom. She has been jilted for another woman.and now seeks comfort on the arm of her brother who is doing his best to console her. He would like to avenge her and it is worth noting that he is carrying a big stick and glaring vengefully at the guilty groom. At the bottom of the panel reads the sentence « ... doit suivre son mari... » which means. "The wife’s duty is to follow her husband"... When this fresco was painted in 1957, this phrase was still included in the wedding ceremony, but it has since been eliminated from the Napoleon Code, much to the delight of the Women’s Lib. movement.
On the left wall Eurydice is dying and is led back to Hades by the women in blue. Orpheus, his eyes closed, lets his lyre drop and the men around him are all of a sudden turned into centaurs fighting and killing innocent animals a pink flamingo, a flying eagle...

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Jean Cocteau In Menton


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Menton - Beaux-Arts Museum


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Jean Cocteau Museum Severin Wunderman’s collection



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8 avenue Boyer - Palais de L'Europe - 06500 Menton - Tél. : 04 92 41 76 76
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