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Cap Ferrat Travel Guide

Often counted as having the world's most expensive real estate, St-Jean Cap Ferrat, is perhaps the most exclusive and beautiful spot on the entire Cote d'Azur. The beaches are outstanding; the seaside walks under the pines are unforgettable and the thickly wooded peninsula is dotted with the Riviera's most stately mansions.

View over Cap Ferrat

Cap Ferrat's prestige is not new. It has been a not-so-secret hideaway for the rich and celebrated ever since Belgian King Leopold II built a love-nest there for his teenaged mistress early in the 20th century. His royal presence soon attracted other glitterati.

Other royals and tycoons built sprawling villas that attracted artists, entertainers and politicians. From Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Taylor to a succession of French, British, American and Russian heads of state, there are few 20th-century notables that bypassed Cap Ferrat.

Things to See and Do on Cap Ferrat

Visit the Villa Euphrussi de Rothschild

Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild built a splendid palace on a hillside overlooking the sea and furnished it magnificently with antique furniture, paintings and tapestries.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Cap Ferrat

Then she got to work designing and landscaping the most impressive gardens on the Riviera. There are eight gardens: French, Spanish, Provencale, Florentine, Japanese, Rose, Exotic and Stone. It's truly a flowery wonderland, dotted with reflecting pools, fountains, olives, pines and more.

The villa and gardens are open daily 10am-6pm (7pm in summer). In addition there are concerts Monday and Tuesday evenings from mid July to the end of August. Details are on the wesite Tickets for the villa and gardens (€17) are available for sale on their website. Advance reservations are desirable but not strictly necessary. It's important to insure that it's open however. As the site is available for weddings and other events, there are occasional Saturday closures.

Check out the Villa Fleur du Cap

Villa Fleur du Cap, Cap Ferrat

Unless you are or know a billionaire, you will not be seeing the inside of the walled and pine-screened estates that nearly blanket the peninsula. Walking the quiet, tree-lined streets past the gated compounds is like glimpsing a party to which you have not been invited. The only exception is the Villa Fleur du Cap which you can see up close on the outside.

Villa Fleur-du-Cap, Cap Ferrat

Sometimes called the "David Niven villa" after the English actor who lived there for decades, this villa was built in 1880 and even served as a locale for the film Curse of the Pink Panther. The villa now belongs to the artist Ana Tsarev. It's an easy walk from the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Follow the Allée des Tilleuls to the Place David Niven.

Take a Boat Tour

Small boat, Cap Ferrat

From mid-June through August the tourist office of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat organises a boat tour twice a week in summer that takes you all around the peninsula. As nearly all Cap Ferrat's storied villas are hidden behind gates, a boat tour is indispensable for discovering how the billionaires live. A guide explains the sights in French and English, pointing out the legendary seaside villas such as the Villa Saint Jean.

Chateau Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Contact the tourist board for details and reservations.

Hit the Beach

Les Fossettes beach, Cap Ferrat

The beaches of Cap Ferrat are among the best on the Riviera. Paloma Beach is the most famous but there are a handful of others tucked away on protected coves such as Les Fossettes (above). The beaches are free, sandy and open to the public.

Take a Walk

Walking path on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Even non-billionaires are welcome to enjoy the indented coastline, stunning sea vistas, and rugged walks of Cap Ferrat. These three well-marked paths are suitable for walkers at any level. A walk along the Promenade Maurice Rouvier to Beaulieu-sur-Mer takes you past a parade of Belle-Epoque villas. The Promenade Saint Hospice takes you to the 11th-century Saint Hospice Chapel next to the Belgian Cemetery for WWI victims. See more details about walking Cap Ferrat.

Places to Eat on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Port of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

There's a row of restaurants on the port of Cap Ferrat that offer decent dining. Restaurant La Goëlette is the best of them, offering a seafood-based menu with vegetarian options (closed Wednesday).

For beachside dining you can't go wrong at the Paloma Beach restaurant. It's spendy but at least the shuttle service will pick you up from wherever you are on the peninsula. Reserve in advance during the summer.

For fine dining, head to either Le Cap restaurant in the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat or La Table du Royal in the Hotel Royal Riviera.

For snacks, drinks, ice cream or light meals Le Cabanon fills the bill. Overlooking the Plage Fossettes, this casual outdoor place is only open during the summer.

Accommodation

Five-star Hotels
Royal Riviera
Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Four-star Hotels
La Voile d'Or

Three-star Hotels
Belle Aurore
Brise Marine
Delcloy
Le Panoramic

Getting to Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat

By Car
Take the Basse Corniche to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and follow signs to Cap Ferrat. There is little public parking which can be a problem in July and August.

By Train
Ligne 4 travels along the coast and stops at Beaulieu-sur-Mer from which it is a long walk to Cap Ferrat.

By Bus
Ligne d'Azur runs bus 15 from Nice to Beaulieu-sur-Mer which stops at a number of places in Cap Ferrat. The first stop is the Pont Saint Jean/Grasseuil. Get off here to visit the beaches, the Villa Fleur du Cap or to start one of the walks. Next is the Plage de Passable/Rothschild, great for stopping at the Villa Euphrussi de Rothschild.

Tourist Information

The Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat tourist office is on 59 av Denis Semeria, the main road leading into Cap Ferrat; Grab a map before heading out to the walking trails.

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