Visit Cap Ferrat (Provence, France)
Cap Ferrat is a peninsula into the Mediterranean just south of Villefranche-sur-Mer and close to Nice on the French riviera. While a substantial part of the peninsula is now home to the very wealthy who live in luxury villas behind closed entrance gates and high hedges there are still several important attractions for visitors.
Exploring Cap Ferrat
The main town on Cap Ferrat is Saint-Jean, and has a harbour and a small centre that is pleasant to explore. Elsewhere to enjoy on the peninsula there is an attractive coast walk, a zoo, the renowned Villa Ephrussi and gardens and a small church with a Belgian war cemetery.
The early development of the island towards the end of the 19th century was due to King Leopold II of Belgium, who established a substantial villa and gardens here. The zoo and extensive parkland surrounding Les Cedres, the villa built by King Leopold, now contains hundreds of animals living in a semi-tropical environment.
Cap Ferrat coast walk
The coast is open to visitors and a very lovely walk follows around the coast of cap Ferrat for about seven kilometres. Hikers usually start at either the beach at Passable (on the north-west of the peninsula) or the port in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (to the north-east).
With the sea to one side and gardens and forested slopes to the other, at the southern end of Cap Ferrrat you will pass a lighthouse (the lighthouse was built in 1951 to replace a 19th century lighthouse here that was destroyed during the Second World War) and the Grand Hotel, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Stunning even among the other villas in the area around Cap Ferrat, the Villa Ephrussi (also known as the 'Villa Ile de France') was built by Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in the early part of the 20th century. The villa, one of the finest on the riviera and surrounded by exceptional gardens, is now open to the public (admission charge 12 euros).
A visit starts in the villa itself, which contains a series of grand rooms radiating off a large open two-storey central area - essentially a light and airy covered central courtyard.
This 'courtyard' is surrounded by marble columns and is a lovely centerpiece for the villa. The rooms accessed from here include salons, bedrooms and other rooms tastefully if opulently decorated with 18th century furnishings, tapestries and paintings, and smaller rooms containing some of the collections amassed by Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild such as porcelain or drawings by Fragonard (and a tea room).
It is from the upstairs in the villa that you can best appreciate the French style gardens directly in front of the villa, designed to represent the shape of a prow of a ship.
After exploring the villa a tour continues in the extensive gardens. These are divided into separate garden areas, which both adds interest and also ensures that whatever time of year you visit Villa Ephrussi there will be something interesting to see. These include Provençal, French, Japanese and Spanish gardens and others dedicated to exotic plants and roses. there are frequent views across the coast and villas below as you explore.
Note: every 20 minutes there is a 'music and fountains' show in the French gardens which adds a nice touch to a visit and helps bring to mind what it would have been like here 100 years ago.
Other activities and sights
Also on Cap Ferrat you can see the Chapel Saint-Hospice, dating in part from the 12th century, and the adjacent large bronze statue of the Virgin Mary (added in the early 20th century) and small Belgian war cemetery. This cemetery (a few kilometres south of Saint-Jean) is also related to King Leopold and Belgium, with a designated area containing the graves of soldiers injured on the battlefields during the First World War who were brought here to be looked after but did not survive.
Another religious monument at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is the brightly painted little church of Saint John the Baptist.
Note: if you are also planning to visit the Villa Kérylos at Beaulieu-sur-Mer 800 metres to the north you can buy a reduced price entrance ticket that includes entrance to both villas - Ephrussi and Kérylos.
Photos of Cap Ferrat
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence, 62300 || GPS: latitude 43.6833, longitude 7.33333
Map of Cap Ferrat & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Cap Ferrat, France
- Parc zoologique du Cap Ferrat - zoo or wildlife park
- Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild - remarkable garden
- Nice - secteur sauvegarde (5km)
- Jardin botanique - remarkable garden (6km)
- Tete de Chien - site of natural beauty (8km)
- Trophy of Augustus - national monument (9km)
- Parc Phœnix - zoo or wildlife park (9km)
- Sainte-Agnes - most beautiful village (17km)
- Palais Carnolès - remarkable garden (17km)
- Serre de la Madone - remarkable garden (17km)
The French version of this page is at Cap Ferrat (Francais)