Located between Beaulieu sur Mer and Villefranche sur Mer, the Cap Ferrat peninsula is one of the most prestigious areas in France. A six mile road follows the circumference of the Cap and gives one the opportunity to see many of the luxurious villas and gardens that are spread all over the peninsula. However, this is a very private place and most of the houses are surrounded by high fences and imposing gates. At one point, the Cap was owned by King Leopold II of Belgium. He built a large park, with a house for himself and one for each of his three mistresses. Parts of the surrounding gardens are open to the public and there is also a small zoo, a very unusual find in this setting. Worried about dying without absolution, the King also constructed a villa for his confessor Monseigneur Charmeton, so that he could be nearby. The priest’s house was at one point owned by the writer Somerset Maugham. Numerous celebrities as diverse as Charlie Chaplin, Edith Piaf, Gregory Peck and David Niven also made Cap Ferrat their home.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all the residences built on the Cap, the pink and white Musée Ephrussi de Rothschild was constructed by the Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild at the turn of the century. She built the villa to house her large art collection and now, as a museum, the house contains over 5000 works of art. The collection of 18th century furniture, porcelain and paintings is impressive. The museum is set in 17 acres of gardens with views of the Cap on all sides. The gardens contain a cactus grove, Italian garden and a particularly impressive Japanese garden.

The village of St Jean

The fishing boats have disappeared from the pretty port, replaced by private yachts. A small footpath leads from the village to the Plage de Passable. The nearby lighthouse is open to the public and if one is energetic enough to climb the 164 steps to the top, the views are magnificent, allowing one to see into the beautiful exclusive film stars’ and personalities’ private gardens of the Cap that are obscured by fences on ground level.

Cap-Ferrat Map

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat tourist information

Nice & Monaco Area Map

Saint-Jean Port and Beach