Unwind on the Beautiful and Desirable Cap Ferrat
December 18, 2017
Beaulieu really is a ‘beautiful place’ and one of the warmest resorts on the Riviera, sheltered by a natural amphitheatre of hills. It had its heyday at the turn of the century when many celebrities stayed here, including the Prince of Wales, Empress Sissi of Austria, Pyotr IIyich Tchaikovsky and Gustav Eiffel. It still boasts many attractions, including an elegant palm-lined promenade, a glamorous casino, the elegant Edwardian Rotonde and the extraordinary Villa Kérylos.
This seaside villa was built by archaeologist Théodore Reinach in 1908 as a tribute to life in ancient Greece. No expense was spared in its lavish décor of white, yellow and lavender marble, ivory and bronze. Reinach lived here for almost 20 years, eating, dressing and behaving as an Athenian citizen.
The most desirable address on the Riviera–the ‘Peninsula of Billionaires’–has long been a favourite haunt of the rich and famous, including Somerset Maugham, Edith Piaf, Charlie Chaplin and David Niven.
The cape is smothered in huge villas hidden among sumptuous gardens, including the Villa des Cèdres – one of Europe’s most beautiful botanical gardens, with12,000 species of exotic plants – and the peninsula’s finest property, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. A shaded coastal path from Villefranche around the cape past countless enticing inlets makes a pleasant stroll before lunch in St.Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Three famous cliff roads, called la Grande Corniche, la Moyenne Corniche and l’Inférieure Corniche, traverse the scenic and most mountainous stretch of the Riviera from Nice to Menton via Monaco.
They each zigzag their way along vertiginous ledges at three different heights. The highest road – la Grande Corniche– was originally constructed by Napoléon and is by far the best choice for picnickers and nature lovers. The lowest route (l’Inférieure) follows the coastal contours through all the seaside resorts and is best avoided during July and August. The steep Moyenne at the middle level is the most dramatic. It was on this cliff hanging route, with its hair-raising bends and astounding views, that Grace Kelly met her untimely death in 1982. Today the road is frequently used for filming car chases.