Alpes-Maritimes (06230) Population: 2,248 Altitude: 130 m
St Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a seaside village in a beautiful location, on a peninsula jutting into the blue Mediterranean between Nice and Monaco. We find the real beauty to be the penninsula and the lovely sheltered bay. The style, though, is much more up-market than our typical "back-country" Beyond style.
The area is heavily residential, with the very expensive homes mostly hidden behind high fences with ubiquitous signs about being protected by the local security company monopoly.
The village itself is rather small, but there are a lot of nice terrace café-restaurants; most along the port. The port, like many along this part of the coast, was once a small fishing port that's evolved into a somewhat larger yacht harbor.
Like most of the other ancient Mediterranean villages along the coast of the modern French Riviera, the harbor as adapted to a co-mingling of modern yachts with the classical pointu fishing boats, still in use to provide local restaurants with fresh local seafood.
Paloma beach 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.
Passable beach 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.
Museum and Gardens
The Ephrussi de Rothschild (or Villa Ile de France) is a mansion 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.
Open very day, year-round. 15 Feb-1 Nov: 10h-18h (19h July-Aug); 2 Nov-5 Feb: weekends and school holidays, 10h-18h.
History of Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat
First record, Anao probably, from Antiquity
The current commune of St Jean-Cap-Ferrat was created in 1904 when it was separated from Villefranche-sur-Mer, and was one of the first residential sites on the Cote d'Azur.
Celto-Ligurian: Occupied by the Ligurians.
Sixth century: Lombard barbarian attacks and occupation 575-577; confrontation during this time between the barbarians and the praying Hospice, where Hospice's life was spared.
The Saracens were installed here in the 9th and 10th centuries. In an 11th-c battle at the Saint Hospice Fort, the Saracens were annihilated.
Fort St-Hospice was built in 1561 by Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoie, and razed in 1706 by the Duc de Berwick.
• GPS: 43.708826, 7.333974
IGN (1/25,000) #3742 OT "Nice-Menton"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #26 "Pay d'Azur"
The hike around the peninsula is nice enough that we have a separate page for it.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Zoo Cap Ferrat
• Location: The Parc Zoological is located in the northwestern part of the peninsula, just past the Office de Tourisme.
• Open: Every day of the year.
• Tel: 0493 760 760
• Over 300 animals, with Bear Mountain, Tiger Zone, Crocodile Beach, African Plain.
All the typical seaside-resort sports are available, including diving (snorkling, scuba diving). The local diving club is WaterWorld; their website (www.waterworld-dive.fr) doesn't give too many details, and prices are provided only by return email after you give your particulars.
Seashells Museum - Musée du Coquillage
Location: Quai du vieux port
Open: Mon-Fri 10h-12h30, 14h-18h; Weekends and holidays 14h-18h.
Entry: €2; €1 kids
Tel: 0493 761 761
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
- Location: Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula northern end (entrance).
- Open: Every day, year-round. 15 Feb-1 Nov: 10h-18h (19h July-Aug); 2 Nov-5 Feb: weekends and school holidays, 10h-18h.
- Tel: 0493 014 590
- The mansion of the Baronness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild (or Villa Ile de France has seven gardens designed in different styles: French Traditional, Florentine, Spanish, Exotic, Lapidary, Japanese, Provencal. Also a fabulous view of the coast, east and west. Also a library, shop, and tea room.
Transportation Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Train. The Nice-Ventimiglia train along the coast stops at Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, both a pretty long walk from St Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Bus. We don't have the details, but there are buses between St Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu and Villefranche, as well as Nice and other villages along the coast.