Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a commune of the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. It is located on a peninsula next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and to Villefranche-sur-Mer and extends out to Cap Ferrat.
Its tranquillity and warm climate make it a favourite holiday destination amongst European aristocracy and international millionaires. It is one of the loveliest places on the Mediterranean coast.
The history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat shows that the town was known to the ancient Greeks
as Anao, the site of present days Cap Ferrat was first settled by Celto-ligurian tribes, then by the Lombards
at the end of the 6th Century
. Sant Ospizio (or Saint Hospice), a hermit friar, is said to have inhabited a tower on the Eastern part of the peninsula.
In the 8th Century, the history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat changed when the Saracens occupy the site and use it as a base for pirating until the 11th Century.
By 1388, the territory of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat with the entire County of Nice is given by treaty to the Dukes of Savoy
(see also History of Villefranche-sur-Mer
The history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat tells that Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy builds a fort at Saint-Hospice in 1561 in an effort to secure the coastline from invaders. The fort is destroyed in 1706 by the Duke of Berwick when Nice is occupied by the French armies of King Louis XIV.
During the 18th Century, the history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat changed when the area - officially part of the Kingdom of Sardinia
- was occupied off and on by the French. It is returned to the Kingdom of Sardinia
in 1814 after Napoleon's abdication.
In 1860 the County of Nice is finally ceded by treaty to France and the peninsula becomes a magnet for kings and wealthy visitors; a new era in the history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. The small fishing village of Saint Jean develops and by 1904 is established as a self-standing commune with the rest of the peninsula, separated from nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer.
The Arrival of the rich and famous
At the onset of the 20th Century King Léopold II of Belgium
owns an important estate on Cap Ferrat and builds several residences and an artificial lake. The main residence is the stately Villa des Cèdres, which has been owned by Marnier-Lapostolle (the makers of Grand Marnier) since 1924 and is now in part a botanical garden called the Jardin botanique "Les Cèdres"
In 1905 Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild also chooses Cap Ferrat to build an opulent and exquisite Tuscan style palazzo, now known as Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild museum; part of the history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
Today Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat has probably some of the most expensive real estate in the world and continues to attract the rich and famous. It is truly one the crown jewels of the French Riviera. The luxurious properties are nestled amongst lush vegetation. Discretely built and protected from prying eyes, they often include a private beach and locked gate-ways.
In the history of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, some of the estates on Cap Ferrat have hosted a plethora of celebrities among others: King Leopold II of Belgium, Baroness de Rothschild, Charlie Chaplin, Rainier III, David Niven, Somerset Maugham, Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, Winston Churchill, French Prime Ministers Maurice Rouvier and Raymond Barre and many more. Major Berkeley Levett, an English aristocrat and witness in the infamous Royal Baccarat Scandal, lived in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat with his brewery heiress wife, the former Sibell Bass.
This wonderful place is the apex of the French Riviera's "golden triangle", of Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu and Villefranche.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has a mild, delightful Mediterranean
climate. Average temperatures range from 9°C/48°F in January to 23°C/73°F in the summer. There is very little rainfall in the summer, making it ideal for holidays and charters. Although occasionally the Mistral winds arrive, it is more sheltered by the mountains than for example St. Tropez
, so the winds are not as strong.
As the temperatures drop below 10ºC for only three months of the year (December to February), anytime is a good time to visit Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat although the summer season is recommended, when temperatures are at their highest but are still comfortable and are ideal for either going to the beach or a sightseeing holiday. The spring and autumn seasons are also warm enough, although more suited to those who prefer slightly cooler weather. Winters are balmy and the French Riviera is a great destination to escape the cold and gloomy weather that predominates in the northern European countries.
One of the pearls of the French Riviera, such is Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This elegant seaside resort, equipped with a marina, is renowned in the whole world for its wonderful peninsula which can be discovered thanks to many pedestrian paths.
Two of the major pursuits in Cap-Ferrat are strolling along the peninsula on the beautiful rocky path admiring the views and the villas, and having a relaxing meal in the restaurants lining the port or just above in the town. If you like mingling with the rich and famous, Cap-Ferrat is one of the best places in the world to do so.
The three beaches are probably the best attraction for the casual visitor.
southeast of the port, on the north side small peninsula (St Hospice). Being on a northeast-facing shore and at the base of some tall cliffs, this beach is the most protected from winds, and has less sun in the afternoons. The location is about a 5-10 minutes walk from the port. From the Port, walk south and up the road past La Voile d'Or; straight, past the hotel Brise Marine, to the junction of Ave Claude Vignon; left, towards "Chapelle St. Hospice", for about 300 m.
is on the northwest side of the main peninsula, past the Office de Tourisme and past the zoo (parc zoologique). It's west-facing, with a view across the Rade de Villefranche.
Cro de Peï Pin
is the biggest beach, located just north of the port at the Anse Lilong (the bay between the main peninsula and the smaller Ste Hospice peninsula), facing eastward into the Baie des Fourmis and the Tete de Chene. There's a public parking lot alongside the beach.
Le Zoo Parc du Cap-Ferrat
The Zoological Garden
is located in the northwestern part of the peninsula, just past the Office de Tourisme. Directional signs are prominent when you arrive. Open every day of the year. This is a very cute Zoo in easy walking distance from the port.
The Zoo du Cap-Ferrat has an impressive collection of flora and fauna. There are over 300 varieties of plants growing here, including succulents and cacti. There are also eucalyptus trees that are over 100 years old. A variety of animals also reside here.
Go right up the lane from La Madone. At the end, turn right and follow the road up to the chapel. There's a very, very large bronze statue of the Madonna and Child
, the early-19th century chapel, and a military cemetery for the 1914-18 war.
A famous spot of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is the semaphore, built in 1862 by decision of Napoleon III
who wanted to equip the French littoral with a semaphoric chain. The goal was to ensure a monitoring of navigation, to transmit messages to the ships, to organize the helps in the event of maritime disasters, to take part in the first maritime meteorological observations.
Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
This is a small marina with 560 berths. It is very well-sheltered and quiet, located on the French Riviera. The surrounding is marvellous and you can have many services there. An exceptional port of call in the centre of a fishing village: illustrious, protected, set in a pedestrian environment.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is one of the most glamorous hotels in the world. Built in 1908, this stately white palace, was regular guests Presidents, like Paul Deschanel
, George W. Bush
and Bill Clinton
, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
, Queen Victoria's
daughter, who remained a faithful guest for many seasons and was often visited by her brother the Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
who lived for twenty years on Cap Ferrat.
During the "Belle Époque" the Cap-Ferrat was already the vacation resort of the world elite: the great names of this world came there, in winter period, to profit from its climate and the quality of life. Built by Baronness de Rothschild at the, the "Villa" is one of most beautiful of the Riviera. With its prestigious gardens whose exceptional rosery, it dominates the Mediterranean on all sides: on a side roads of Villefranche and other the bay of Beaulieu.
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
(or Musée Île-de-France) is an Italian style villa was built between 1905 and 1912 of the Baronness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild
. It's a museum in itself (the building and furnishings) and has an enormous art collection. The villa grounds have an extensive set of 7 gardens designed in different styles: French Traditional, Florentine, Spanish, Exotic, Lapidary, Japanese, Provencal. The villa is located at the northern end (entrance) of the peninsula.
Les Azuriales Opera Festival
The Les Azuriales Opera Festival
, founded in 1997, takes place each year in August on the magnificent Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
in the Cap Ferrat, one of the Mediterranean’s most exclusive locations.
With its coastal location, cuisine in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is naturally based quite significantly around seafood and delectable dishes worth trying include escalope de mérou au citron, which is escalope of sea bass in lime; salmon tournedos with truffles; cod and vegetables in garlic sauce; and skate with capers. Meat dishes on some of the best menus in town include estouffade de sanglier (wild boar) and fillet de beef rossini cooked with foie gras. However, this is but a small selection of a huge number of quality French dishes that are available across the town in both upmarket and small traditional venues. Meal prices vary massively depending on where you go, but mid-price establishments are comparable to UK
restaurants; the sky’s the limit however and you can easily pay a hundred euros for a gourmet meal here.
You have any number of restaurants to choose from lining the port or just above in the town - a leisurely lunch enjoying the view, the boat and people watching is very easy to come by in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. If you're looking for something more upscale (and maybe hoping to bump into someone famous) you can try one of these gourmet restaurants:
- Le Cap - the main restaurant at the Grand Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat with all the trimmings
- Le Panorama - Hôtel Royal Riviera with an award winning chef
- Le Sloop - a nice restaurant on the port
- La Voile d’or - beautiful views over the port
One of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat's main sources of income is tourism
. The main attractions of Saint-jean-Cap-Ferrat is its pleasant climate its history and its circuit of yachts attracts thousands of tourists every year. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat also has a small port of fish.
Another Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat's source of income is the hotel industry and the real estate sector which is dynamic in the region.
Train. The Nice-Ventimiglia train along the coast stops at Villefranche-sur-Mer
, both a pretty long walk from St Jean-Cap-Ferrat. There are several ways to get from the airport at Nice
. Trains depart from the Gare St Augustin, which is just 500 metres from Terminal 1, and travel directly to Antibes every 30 minutes. Buses go directly from Terminal 1 to Nice’s central bus station every 12 minutes. From here, you can catch a bus to Antibes
Air: The nearest airports are Toulon-Hyères, Nice-Côte d'Azur, Marseille-Provence. The Nice Côte d'Azur airport, has regular flights to Geneva, Paris, Madrid, New York City and London.
Based on the article in the French Wikipedia.