It takes some effort to reach the Notre-Dame de Jérusalem chapel, also known as the Cocteau Chapel, at the Tour de Mare neighborhood of Fréjus in Southern France. It isn't all that far from the center of the old Fréjus, but the road that leads to it is a hushed secret. In my opinion, it should be sign posted everywhere as a must-see for visitors to Frejus.
Reach it and you enter a different world. Like a dream, it grasps you and pulls you into its own separate reality.
"Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious." -Jean Cocteau
The Chapel sits at the outskirts of the Estérel Mountains. You park outside its gated entrance and walk your way up a pathway through a garden of cork oaks.
At the end of the path, you notice a small octagon-shaped structure propped up on a mounticle, the chapel. Its three heavy iron doors greet you solemnly. Light pierces through the doors' stained glass and runs inside.
"One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends." - Jean Cocteau
On the the floor, glazed tiles shine in different tones of blue. They're shaped in elongated hexagons and slither their way to the center of the room. They move under your feet like waves on water. The murals surround you in dreamy blues and washed-out yellows. You notice bloody splashes of red across this soft pastel canvas: the Jerusalem cross, the nails in Jesus' hands and feet, the blazons of the Saint-Sepulcher order and the cup of wine all stand out in red.
"Art is not a pastime but a priesthood." -Jean Cocteau
The octagon's insides represent scenes from the Passion of Christ,from the order of the Holy Sepulcher, from the Passion of Christ and from Jesus' resurrection.
Cocteau's chapel not only depicts a world of sensations and of symbols, it embodies it. It's hard for me to convey the feeling of a visit when you plunge into Cocteau's world. The below video offers a vicarious alternative to a real visit.
To find out more:
We have previously written about the Cocteau Chapel. Read more about it here.
Read about the multi-talented artist Jean Cocteau at this site
Jean Cocteau was a very prolific and multi-talented artist. You'll find more of his murals on the French Riviera at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat at Villa Santo Sospir, at Chapelle Saint-Pierre in Villefranche-sur-Mer, in Menton (Le Bastion and Salle des Mariages) and at the Cap d'Ail though that site is not open to visitors. Also at Metz, Milly-la-Forêt and even London at the Eglise Notre-Dame de France, just off Leicester Square.
To know when to go:
From November to April: Tuesday to Sunday 9:30AM to 12:30PM and 2PM to 5PM
From May to October: Tuesday to Sunday 9:30AM to 12:30PM and 2PM to 6PM
Closed on Mondays and on Holidays. Current cost 2€ per person.
To find it:
To find the Cocteau chapel at the outskirts of Fréjus, follow the below Google map.
Show AzurAlive.com: The Cocteau Chapel, Fréjus on larger map