Sitting at the end of a beautiful rocky peninsula of pine trees, and palms, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is the epitome of elegance and old Riviera glamour: from the small, chic harbour to the palatial gated villas and magnificent gardens of celebrities, oligarchs and famous family dynasties. Getting there from Nice airport is easiest by car or taxi along the Corniche Andre de Joly; the nearest train stop is quite a walk away at Beaulieu-sur-Mer. By bus, you can take the number 81 right to the village, or if you fancy a beautiful and untaxing 15 minute walk, you can take the 100 bus and get off at the Hotel Royal Riviera at the start of the Cap.
There is a terrace overlooking the port that has some lovely restaurants and is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the view. In fact, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat seems to have more restaurants than anything else, so you certainly won’t struggle to find somewhere to enjoy dinner. Even if you can’t stretch to one of their palatal suites then call in at Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat for an evening drink and a stroll around the beautiful gardens, or book a table at their Michelin starred restaurant. The hotel was built in 1908 and has been attracting aristocracy, royalty and anyone who’s anyone ever since. They also serve a traditional afternoon tea with cakes on the veranda from 3pm to 6pm. If your budget doesn't quite extend to that, eat where the locals do on at Bar-Restaurant du Port, where set menus start at an extraordinarily cheap 10 euro. Or bring a picnic basket and set up under the pines to enjoy the afternoon breeze rising up off the sparkling sea.
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The main attraction at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a very grand villa built in the the early 20th century by Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild- (who once got cross at Queen Victoria for trampling on her flowerbeds!) It is crammed with sculptures, paintings, antique furniture and rare porcelain and is now a museum with an impressive art collection. Its gardens alone are worth a look with seven different styles including traditional French, Spanish and Japanese. The villa hosts regular events such as the annual Painters’ Day in June and a summer opera festival. There is also a small church with a Belgian war cemetery and the Chapel Sainte-Hospice, which dates in part from the 12th century.
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The best way to appreciate the beautiful local area is by following one of the very lovely marked coastal paths that take you around the Cap and offer magnificent views. There are a couple of different routes taking you via various beaches and past local landmarks such as the lighthouse; see our hiking guide for photos and a description of one of the walks. There is also a very pleasant (and easy) walk from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to Beaulieu-sur-Mer via the Promenade Maurice Bouvier. Leave your hiking gear at home as it is smooth strolling all way, as befits a promenade that has a section named in honour of David Niven.
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Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has several lovely beaches and coves- Paloma, Passable and Cro de Peï Pin are the main ones. All have calm clear water and stunning views, and tend to be quite quiet as they are all a bit tucked away and off the beaten track- (parking can be tricky and no public transport runs here.) Paloma Beach was named after Picasso's daughter as the artist loved bringing his family here- there's also the famous Paloma Beach Club on this stretch- a perfect place to stretch out on a deckchair with a glass of rose and look out at the superyachts and sheer cliffs rising up over the coast towards Monaco. Have a look at our beach guide to find out more.
Also see: Beaches in Nice, France
The closest golf course to Cap -Jean-Saint Ferrat is the elegant and historic Monte Carlo Golf Club in La Turbie, where the rather steep green fees are offset by an exquisite and rolling 18 hole course offering panoramic views over the coast and some challenging shots. For other options, see our Golfing Guide.
Nightlife isn't exactly pulsing in this tiny, refined village (although heaven knows what kind of debaucherous high society parties go on behind those high villa walls). Head to Nice or Monaco to celebrate in high Riviera style, or simply take a table overlooking the yachts in the marina and enjoy a good French meal in one of the world's most sought after postcodes.
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