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Focus on St Jean Cap Ferrat

Focus on St Jean Cap Ferrat

The commune of St Jean Cap Ferrat in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France claims fair title as one of the crown jewels of the French Riviera and is the apex of a “golden triangle,” which includes Beaulieu and Villefranche.

Since King Leopold II of Belgium built an estate at Cap Ferrat at the beginning of the 20th century, the world’s wealthy and elite citizens have been drawn to the area’s luxury properties nestled amid lush vegetation and secluded behind locked gates with private beaches.

St Jean Cap Ferrat lies on a peninsula next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and to Villefranche-sur-Mer, which extends out to Cap Ferrat. Winter temperatures average 9°C in January and climb no higher than 23°C during the summer months.

Low rainfall amounts during the summer make the peninsula a popular holiday spot, and the area is partially sheltered by the mountains to decrease the occasional arrival of the Mistral winds. Consequently, St Jean Cap Ferrat is a pedestrian haven where long walks are the norm.

The Townscape resort and marina has an international reputation and the three breaches — Paloma, Passable, and Cro de Pei Pin — are a major attraction. Whether strolling rocky paths along the ocean with breathtaking views or lolling through a relaxed meal at a port-side restaurant, the pace of life is slow and relaxed.

Visitors can enjoy the varied flora and fauna of Le Zoo Parc du Cap-Ferrat including eucalyptus trees that have grown there for more than 100 years. At the 19th century chapel of St Hospice, a large bronze of the Madonna and Child provides a point of contemplation adjacent to a military cemetery with the graves of veterans of the Great War.

The Italian style The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild at the entrance of the peninsula was built between 1905 and 1912. It houses a large collection of art and fine furnishings, with seven gardens on the grounds, each in a different style. In August, the site hosts the Les Azuriales Opera Festival.

The glamourous but stately Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat lies at the tip of the peninsula. Guests enjoy five star accommodations and superb dining at the main restaurant, Le Cap. After a six-month refurbishment, the hotel reopened in February 2010 and is available year round.

The nearest airports to St Jean Cap Ferrat are Toulon-Hyeres, Nice-Cote d’Azur, and Marseille-Provence. Regular flights to Geneva, Paris, Madrid, New York City and London depart and arrive daily from Nice Cote d’Azur. The Nice-Ventimiglia train runs along the coast with stops at Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Long a holiday destination for royalty, aristocrats, business tycoons, film stars, politicians, and statesmen, St Jean Cap Ferrat offers a rare combination of opulence and privacy. With a climate that can only be described as perfection, the peninsula epitomises all the best qualities of the famed French Riviera.