Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera is a perfect place to walk around. The peninsula is where the rich and famous spend their vacations and their luxury villas and lush gardens are nice to look at on your walk around Cap-Ferrat.
There is a marked trail that follows the beautiful shoreline, all the way. You can walk slowly and stop whenever there’s something to see – what about this beach, for example?
This is Paloma beach, one of the pretty Cap-Ferrat beaches.
Cap-Ferrat is located on the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco. Cap-Ferrat is close to Nice and you can get there by car, train or bus.
This post shows you a walk around Cap-Ferrat. I will show you photos of Cap-Ferrat scenery and tell you about sights.
Walk around Cap-Ferrat on the Map
I have walked around the whole peninsula which requires some condition and a lot of time. The walk around Cap-Ferrat is 13 km long in all. But I have also walked shorter sections with family and children. So you can make the route shorter according to your needs. You can skip the Pointe de Saint-Hospice loop or take a bus back from Saint-Jean.
If you walk most of the loop and stop for beaches and sights you will get a whole-day walk but what would a be better way to spend a vacation day?
You can walk either way but I am describing the route starting at Villefrance and ending at Beaulieu.
Start: Villefrance-sur-Mer Station
This is Villefrance-sur-Mer railway station. Like many stations on the French Riviera this station is right on the beach. If you take a train from where you are staying you start your walk here. And if you come by car you can park on Villefrance beach.
Walk to the other end of the beach (on the right in the photo) and take the stairs next to railway line and follow the village road to Villa Ephrussi.
If you come by bus you may start from the same village road or from the village center of Villefrance depending on which bus you are using.
However you arrive, you will soon notice that Cap-Ferrat is full of luxury villas. Wonder why?
Cap-Ferrat is one of the wealthiest areas in the world, and many celebrities and royals have spent their vacations here.
The former king of Belgium, Leopold II, bought large areas of Cap Ferrat and built his villa (or his palace) here. Also Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild designed her villa on Cap Ferrat and so did many others. This is how it started.
So the rich flocked to Cap-Ferrat. 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…
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 in their lush gardens behind stone walls and iron gates and try to imagine how they spent their leisure time here? Did they like to walk around Cap-Ferrat?
After the villas were built, luxury hotels were designed to attract wealthy clients. Like the Grand Hotel and Hotel Bedford, both in the village of Saint-Jean.
As you can guess there are only a handful of villas where you can get in and see what it is like. Villa Ephrussi is the most famous among the villas that are open to visitors.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild was one of the people that had their dream villas built on Cap Ferrat.
The pink Rothschild villa is in the middle of the peninsula on an area of 7 hectares which is not a small area on a narrow peninsula like this.
The Rothschild villa is a stylish Belle Epoque villa and it’s surrounded by nine themed gardens that have beautiful views to the bays on both sides.
The villa is filled with precious artwork and furniture. In addition there is an outdoor exhibition of modern art.
But we are walking around Cap-Ferrrat. This was the first sight and it took us time but it was worth it. After Villa Ephrussi take the road to Plage Passable where the coastal path really begins.
Cap-Ferrat West Shore Path
The pebbly Plage Passable is the first beach. Plage Passable has great views to Villefrance on the other side of the bay. So you can swim and enjoy a Villefrance and mountain view. But it’s maybe not the right time to stop yet since we just stopped at the villa. You can return to Plage Passable another day.
The west shore path is a gravel path, sometimes a bit rough. It follows the Cap-Ferrat seaside to the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula and then back along the other side.
The path is good to walk and you can run too, but you need good shoes.
And what’s best, the ocean and villa scenery is stunning, all the way!
Towards the far end of the peninsula (Pointe Malalongue) where the lighthouse is the trail gets even more rough and the rocks on both sides look almost inaccessible.
But why would you like to stay here on these rocks? There are better places to come, just walk a bit on.
Two Hidden Beaches
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 they are not just good for swimming. They are good for snorkeling.
Les Fosses is a beautiful sandy beach with villas behind. Les Fossettes again has a rich underwater life. That’s why a 200 m long underwater snorkeling trail has been built at one end of it. The underwater trail is marked so you can follow it on your own and observe the seabed and its underwater life.
On our family walk in Cap-Ferrat we stopped and had a swim on Les Fossettes Beach.
Pointe de Saint-Hospice Loop
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 from there back to Paloma beach on the other side and on to Saint-Jean village.
But before you reach Paloma beach there are two sights, the Chapel of Saint-Hospice Madone and the Belgian Cemetery. Both are on the top of the hill and offer great views to the sea.
Chapelle Saint-Hospice Madone and Cimetiere Belge
The chapel is old. It is from the 11th century and has a bronze statue of the Virgin and beautiful, simple interiors.
The Belgian cemetery again is much younger. It dates from the 1st world war 1914-1918.
From Pointe Saint-Hospice you can see the whole coast: Monaco, Cap Martin and Italy and after the Pointe you get views to the bay: Beaulieu, Eze Bord de Mer and the hilltop village of Eze (in the middle right of the bridge).
Here you can see our family walking. And again there is a pretty beach! It’s Paloma Beach, my favorite beach on my walks in Cap-Ferrat.
Paloma Beach is like a small paradise, it’s very calm and pretty. The beach is deep enough so it’s good to swim and the Mediterranean water is clear.
Paloma Beach is protected from the winds and the views to the Cote d’Azur coast on the opposite side are spectacular.
No wonder Paloma Beach and its beach restaurant are a favorite of many famous people staying in Cap-Ferrat.
After Paloma Beach comes the village of Saint-Jean. Saint-Jean is a small community where the harbor plays a central role.
The original harbor was extended in the 1970’s and now takes 500 boats. Many of them are big yachts or sailing-boats but you can also see small blue fishing-boats between the yachts.
All fishing-boats look alike:
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 museum tour costs € 2 for adults and it begins with a short educational film. The seashell collection is displayed in 33 different showcases and you can examine shells and corals with a microscope.
The seashell museum is an educational experience for both adults and children. Our family liked the museum and we bought some seashells at the end. We were happy that we happened to walk by this good 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.
End of the Walk around Cap-Ferrat: Beaulieu-sur-Mer
From Saint-Jean the path goes on to the Fourmis bay with the Greek Kerylos Villa that is now a museum. Finally you come to the beach at Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
Just like Cap-Ferrat, also Beaulieu-sur-Mer is a favourite of the rich. It is has been the residence of royalty from Britain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal and Russia. Beaulieu has a big harbour, upmarket shops and a casino.
Beaulieu is the place to end our walk around Cap-Ferrat and take the train back to where you came from.
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