We took a walk around Cap-Ferrat, the peninsula on the French Riviera where the rich and famous spend their vacations.
The rows of luxury villas and well kept gardens are something you won’t see elsewhere, and so is the winding walkway sticking to the Mediterranean shoreline all the way around the cape.
The trail is marked and 13 km long. As always we used a lot of time on it, walking slowly, visiting great mansions – and taking a dip in the sea.
What about this beach, for example? Paloma beach, one of the many pretty Cap-Ferrat beaches.
Walk around Cap Ferrat: Paloma Beach
The narrow peninsula of Cap Ferrat is located on the French Riviera, between Nice and Monaco. Being close to Nice it’s an easy place to get to by either car, train or bus.
This post will show you the walk around Cap-Ferrat. You will see what this exclusive peninsula looks like and get to know the sights.
Another Cap Ferrat beach: Plage des Fossettes
The Walk around Cap Ferrat on the Map
Walking itinerary around Cap Ferrat, the map
As the distance is 13 km, the walk all lthe way around requires some time and condition. If you prefer, you can make it shorter and skip the Pointe de Saint-Hospice loop, or take a bus back from the village of Saint-Jean.
There are shorter options as well that we have walked with small children. Up to you, just find out an itinerary.
Walking most of the loop and stopping for beaches and museums easily makes a whole-day walk. What would a be better way to spend a Riviera vacation day than that?
You can walk the trail either way, but I will show it starting from Villefrance and ending at Beaulieu.
Start: Villefrance-sur-Mer Station
Villefrance-sur-Mer beach and train station
This is the Villefrance-sur-Mer railway station. Like many stations on the French Riviera, this station is right on the beach. Arriving by train, you will start walking from here. Arriving by car, park on the Villefrance beach.
Walk to the other end of the beach (the right end of the photo) and take the stairs next to the railway line to the village road to and on to Villa Ephrussi.
Villefrance-sur-Mer beach and mountains
Coming by bus, you may start from the same village road or from the village center of Villefrance depending on which bus you have taken.
However you arrive, you will soon notice that Cap Ferrat is full of exclusive villas. Wonder why?
Cap Ferrat Villas
A Cap Ferrat villa tower
Since celebrities and royals started to spend their vacations here, Cap Ferrat has developed to one of the wealthiest areas in the world,
The former king of Belgium, Leopold II, bought large areas of the peninsula and built his villa (that I would rather call a palace) here. Also Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild designed her villa on Cap Ferrat and so did many others. So these were the people that started it all.
Cap Ferrat, the French holiday destination of the celebrities
Then the rich started to flock to Cap-Ferrat from all over Europe and beyond. The list of artists, writers, rich and famous who have spent their vacations here is long:
Henry Matisse, Jean Cocteau, Edith Piaf, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Elton John, Roger Moore, Somerset Maughan, Charlie Chaplin, Tony Curtis, Romy Schneider, David Niven, Jean-Paul Belmondo…
A Cap Ferrat villa
Some politicians to mention: Charles de Gaulle, Giscard d’Estaing, Winston Churchilll, Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton.
Think about these names and look at the villas isolated by stone walls and iron gates, and try to imagine how they might have spent their leisure time? Maybe walk around Cap Ferrat?
One more villa
Once the villas were there, more people wanted to come. Now luxury hotels were designed to attract the clients. Like the Grand Hotel and Hotel Bedford, both in the village of Saint-Jean.
As you can guess the villas are private and you can’t see the interiors. Only a handful of them are open to visitors, one of them Villa Ephrussi.
View towards Villefrance from Villa Ephrussi, Cap Ferrat
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The gardens of Villa Ephrussi, Cap Ferrat
Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild was one of those who that had their dream villas built on Cap Ferrat.
The pink Rothschild villa is in the center part of the peninsula and occupies an area of 7 hectares which makes a bit part of the narrow peninsula.
The pink villa with nine gardens
The Rothschild villa is a Belle Epoque villa surrounded by nine themed gardens that have views to the bays on both sides. More villa views:
The villa is full of precious artwork and furniture and there is an outdoor exhibition of modern art:
Art on the French Riviera: Villa Ephrussi
But remember, we are walking around Cap-Ferrrat. This was the only first sight.
After Villa Ephrussi take the road to Plage Passable where the marked walkway becomes a path.
Cap-Ferrat West Shore Path
The pretty, pebbly Plage Passable is the first beach.
Plage Passable has views to Villefrance on the other side of the bay, so while soaking in the turquoise waters you will have both Villefrance and mountain views. Would like to stay, but it’s too early to stop having just stopped at the villa. We can return to Plage Passable another day.
Walking on from Plage Passable
The west shore path is a gravel path and sometimes a bit rough. It follows the Cap-Ferrat seaside to the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula and then back the other side.
The path is good to walk and good to run as well, but for that you will need good shoes.
Stunning Mediterranean scenery, all the way!
Walk around Cap Ferrat, sea view from the path
Walking on a rough path
Towards the far end of the peninsula (Pointe Malalongue) the trail gets even more rough and the sharp rocks on both sides get inaccessible.
Sharp Cap Ferrat rocks
But why would you like to stay on these rocks? There are better places to come, just walk a bit on.
Two Hidden Beaches
The snorkling beach Plage des Fossettes
Walking back from the lighthouse there are two hidden beaches, the bigger Plage des Fosses and the smaller Plage des Fossettes. Both are used by locals and not only good for swimming. They good for snorkeling.
Les Fosses is a wide sandy beach and lined with villas. Les Fossettes again has a rich underwater life. At one end of it exists a 200 m long underwater snorkeling trail. It’s a marked underwater trail that you can follow on your own, observing the seabed and its underwater life.
On our Cap Ferrat family walk we had a swim on Les Fossettes Beach.
Pointe de Saint-Hospice Loop
Walk around Cap Ferrat: the loop around Pointe de Saint-Hospice
The Pointe de Saint-Hospice loop is a short extra loop. It goes around a smaller peninsula and comes back almost where it left.
The loop follows the seashore to the Pointe and back to Paloma Beach and on to Saint-Jean village on the other side.
Walkway and the Riviera seen from Cap Ferrat
Chapelle Saint-Hospice Madone and Cimetiere Belge
The Cap Ferrat chapel Saint-Hospice Madone
Before Paloma beach are two culture sights, the Chapel of Saint-Hospice Madone and the Belgian Cemetery. Both are on the highest top of the hill and offer views to the sea.
Virgin on the chapel yard
The chapel is very old, from the 11th century, and has a bronze statue of the Virgin outside. This is the interior:
Cap Ferrat Chapel interior
The Belgian cemetery again is a newcomer compared to the chapel, dating from the 1st world war 1914-1918.
The Belgian Cemetery, a Cap Ferrat sight
At the far end, the Pointe Saint-Hospice is one of the best places to see the whole coast: Monaco, Cap Martin and Italy.
Walking a bit further it will change to views to the bay: Beaulieu, Eze Bord de Mer and the hilltop village of Eze (in the middle of the picture, the hill to the right from the bridge).
More about Eze and other destinations on the coast: The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera
Afternoon on Cap Ferrat waters
Here you can see our family members walking. They are going to their favourite beach, the pebbly Paloma Beach, one of our favorites on the French Riviera.
Walking to a Cap Ferrat beach
Walk around Cap Ferrat: a remote beach
Paloma Beach is like a little paradise, always calm and turquiose, and deep enough to swim. As it’s a pebble beach and not sandy, the Mediterranean water is very clear.
The Cap Ferrat beach Paloma
What is best with Paloma Beach, it’s on the side best protected from sea winds and rough sea.
No wonder Paloma Beach with its small beach restaurant are a favorite of the famous of Cap-Ferrat.
The turquoise waters of the French Riviera: Cap Ferrat
Fishing fleet in Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat
After the pretty Paloma Beach comes the main villageof the cape, Saint-Jean, a small community where the yacht and fishing harbor plays a central role.
The original harbor was small but was extended in the 1970’s. Today it takes 500 boats, most of which bigger yachts or sailing-boats, but you will also see blue fishing-boats parked between the yachts:
All Cap Ferrat fishing boats look the same
Sain-Jean Seashell Museum
Different kinds of seashells displayed
There is a hidden museum in Saint-Jean. Seashell Museum is on the quayside of Saint-Jean’s old harbor. It has an exhibition of 7000 seashells from all over the world. Imposing! This is the largest exhibition of Mediterranean seashells in the world.
The Seashell Museum of Cap Ferrat
At the time we were visiting, we took a museum tour (€ 2 for an adult) that began with a short educational film. The seashell collection was displayed in 33 glassed showcases and there was a chance to examine shells and corals with a microscope.
For us the museum was an educational experience that both adults and children liked. At the end we bought some seashells to take home. So happy we happened to walk by such a good museum!
Mediterranean corals in the Seashell Museum
What else is there in Saint-Jean? Some pretty streets with rose-colored houses in the hill slope, an old church, stylish hotels – and a whole row of restaurants, shops and galleries along the quayside:
Seafood restaurants on the quayside
End of the Walk around Cap-Ferrat: Beaulieu-sur-Mer
From Saint-Jean the path goes on to the bay of Fourmis with the Greek Kerylos Villa, now a museum. Finally you will reach the beach of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
Just like Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is a favourite of the rich. It is has been the residence of royals from Britain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal and Russia. Beaulieu also has a big harbour, rows of upmarket shops and a casino.
Beaulieu is the place where to end our walk around Cap Ferrat. Now take the train back to where you came from.
Good night Cap Ferrat!
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