"The magnificence of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat" Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat by NiceLife

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 75 photos

Golden triangle: Cap Ferrat, Villefranche&Beaulieu

Overlooking the long snaking peninsula of Cap Ferrat from above Beaulieu - an incomparable vista over this most priviledged of places. The chic yachting harbour of St Jean balances the exclusive villas that occupy either side of the spine, looking east to Monaco or west to the deep-water harbour of Villefranche. A golden triangle.

For a century the Cap has been home to some of the most wealthy people on Earth - European royalty, filmstars, writers, industrialists, socialites and nowadays a significant presence of Russia's new money. (Interestingly not the arab oil money, which sticks to its base in Cannes where there is more shopping). Extreme wealth is required to own property here. Its most prestigious estate, La Leopolda, benchmarked at over 200m euro, but anyone can come and appreciate the splendour if they make the effort. Easily accessible on foot from the far end of the beach at Villefranche, via the av Louise Bordes, which in passing offers a glimpse of Nellcote, the villa rented by the Rolling Stones during their 80's tax exile (recording "Exile on Main Street")

You can walk several hours round the circumference of the Cap, at some points a rocky trail. You can walk the road and then track to the highest point in the centre of the Cap, where a military establishment plays host to fine views over the coast towards Nice. Take a welcome break in the unspoilt yachting harbour of St Jean. For many years there was also a charming zoo here, however now closed (October 2009) "thanks" to a British property developer, to make way for a luxury spa.

Catch the barest of glimpses of the luxurious villas tucked behind steel gates and electrified high fences, as privacy and security are a not unexpected preoccupation. The air is filled with the sound of randy cicadas rattling, the persistent barking of chiens mechant, and the ant-like scurrying of little white vans of Italian building contractors and garden maintenance companies, as every villa is constantly remodelled and updated on the whim of its absent owner.

Don't miss the stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its seven themed gardens straddling the central neck of the the Cap (open to public, around 12 euro entrance, half-hourly 81 bus connects Nice and Villefranche) Stop for tea and cake: a perfect setting for a piece of paradise that made it safely to Earth. As good as it gets.

Port Saint-Jean

Popular with the yatching crowd in the peak of summer, the Port of St Jean is nevertheless relaxed and restful most of the rest of the year. A lovely unspoilt place to sit a while, enjoy an unhurried coffee or glass of rose, and soak up the ambiance.

Among the low key restaurants that line the waterside is Le Sloop, subject of rave reviews by Michael Winner and Andrew Lloyd Weber, who clearly know their way around here.

What is most noticable at St Jean Cap Ferrat is the almost total absence of "yoof" and litter. Not much to entertain them here, pure bliss, left to the grown-ups.

David Niven's La Fleur du Cap

Actor David Niven's lived here in his final years until 1983, at Lo Scoglietto - La Fleur du Cap, just one of the many beautiful villas that grace this peaceful and idylic refuge of the rich and famous.

Previous owners have included Charlie Chaplin, and it has recently been entirely refurbished for its current owner, name undisclosed. And just take a look at the jaw-dropping villa development opposite! The Promenade Maurice Rouvier offers you a relaxing stroll from Beaulieu to St Jean, with a lovely view out towards Italy.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful villas and views of the golden triangle of the Riviera
  • Cons:Privacy of the residents means a view of lot of steel gates and shutters
  • In a nutshell:Paradise, at a price
  • Last visit to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (26)

Comments (9)

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2006 at 1:03 PM

    Andrew, great to see your page of the first place I have ever been in France as a kid of eleven. I t was on our way from Italy back to Holland. I was very proud to be able to pronounce this long word Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, while not speaking French yet.

  • livi4's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2005 at 6:01 AM

    your Riviera pages are wonderful, the best.

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2005 at 4:21 AM

    Looks such a beautiful place, I thought I had been here actually, but I didnt recognise it lol! Lovely page, enjoyable read. Thankyou! (~_~)

  • benidormone's Profile Photo
    Nov 8, 2004 at 11:12 AM

    Naked people are not dangarous, better place this in off the beaten path, nevertheless nice page!!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2004 at 1:54 PM

    Astounding work, Andrew. Grand Hotel is quite impressive as is Villa Ile da France & gardens. Thanks for the history of ruthless King Leopold II. Your writing, as I've indicated, is all encompassing...helpful, entertaining, and intelligent.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jul 20, 2004 at 4:22 PM

    Love your prose, love your pics.

  • allaboutnice's Profile Photo
    Apr 21, 2004 at 10:51 AM

    Great pages and photos - not been to Cap Ferrat yet - will try and get there this year. The daughter will love the zoo and I will love the Blueberry pie :-) Luckily we can walk it all off searching for naked men around the coastal path ;-)

  • vivalasteph's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2004 at 8:30 AM

    Fantastic, Andrew! Oh, to be a girl racer in that sky! And no better way to spend an afternoon than with blueberry tarts and nude men!!

  • ettenaj's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2004 at 6:16 AM

    I think I need to win the lottery, this place sounds like the most wonderful place to chill out, I could manage in a villa like Rothchild's lol ( I can dream )

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