Just 15 minutes up the coast from Nice, is the ‘millionaire’s presque isle’ Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. With some of the highest property values in the world, its coastline is dotted with sumptuous estates hidden behind large gates and longer driveways, most villas only visible from the sea. However, l
Getting there: Take bus #81 Port de Saint Jean from the Promenade des Arts bus stop located behind the Place Garibaldi Monoprix, or from the Port. For Villa Kerylos get off at the Villa Kerylos stop (which is just after the Baie des Formis stop) and for the Villa Rothschild get off 6 stops later at Plage de Passable/Rothschild stop, which is just after the La Rade stop. For Sainto Sospir, get off at the last stop, the town of Saint Jean, and then it’s a 20 minute walk.
Insider tip: I recommend going to Villa Rothschild first as it’s more of a wow and if you go early you might have the place all to your selves.
By Train The Villa Rothschild is just a 10-minute walk from the Beaulieu train station (which you might recognize from the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Caine as a couple of Riviera con men.) And if you come by train, your ticket will get you some discounts, see below.
By Uber, it will cost approximately 20€ from Nice, and you will be driven in a comfortable chauffeured sedan by a professional driver.
Deals: You can get a two-villa combo ticket for 20€, and you will have a month to visit the second villa. The combo-ticket price for children ages 7-17 and students of all ages with student ID is 15.50€.
If you take the train (TER) to Beaulieu on the day of your first villa, show your ticket or Zou week pass and you will get a discount to 15.50€ for the two-villa combo ticket, and you will have a week to visit the 2nd villa.
If you don’t want to two-villa combo ticket, the TER train deal will get you 2.50€ off a single adult admission to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild or Villa Kerylos, and also
- 2.50€ off admission to the Monaco Oceanographic Museum (regularly 14€)
- 2€ off the Monaco Grand Tour hop-on-hop-off bus (normally 21€)
- 3€ off the Nice Open Tour hop-on-hop-off bus (regularly 22€)
Villa Ephrussi Rothschild
After Beatrice, the Baroness of Rothschild, married into the ultra-rich Bank of France Ephrussi family, she needed a creative outlet. Upon seeing her husband’s cousin’s Greek-style Villa Kerylos, she decided to build her own Italian inspired villa nearby. Combining her love of art and pink roses, she created and curated the villa and gardens herself, inspired by the grand Palazzios of Venice. A bit on the flamboyant side, often dressing in pink head-to-toe, she used her favorite flower and color as major motifs in her very personal creation.
The Villa: The full two floors of the opulent pink villa are open for your exploration, including Madam’s private suite and boudoir. Louis XVI furnishings, priceless paintings and sculptures, a celebrated porcelain collection, the tapestry room, the Fragonard salon, …and the surreal monkey room dedicated to her two beloved primate companions… did I mention that Baronnes Beatrice was a bit eccentric?
The Gardens: The sumptuous manicured gardens will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into a Bronte novel, as you discover hidden gazebos, ancient statuary, the Temple of Love, pools and waterfalls, and secluded corners. The immense estate is covered with 9 lovingly cultivated rosaries and gardens including French, Florentine, Japanese, Spanish, and Exotic styles. If you are into horticulture, this is for you, and if you are around in early May, don’t miss the Rose and Plant Festival at Villa Rothschild. (And for even more on Gardens in Nice, click here.)
The Dancing Fountains: The fountains are beautiful in their own right, but every 20 minutes they put on a show, with the steams and jets carefully choreographed to classical music.
The Tea Room: Open from 10am-7pm, the Tea Room offers a romantic spot for a light lunch or an elegant afternoon tea in an unforgettable atmosphere. A tea is less than 5€, but for 12€ you can pamper yourself with a ‘thé gourmande’, a tea and your choice of pastry.
- Spring and Autumn hours: 10am to 6pm
- Summer hours: (July and August) from 10am to 7pm
- Winter hours (November to February): winter weekends and holidays 10am to 6pm, but weekdays (Mon-Fri) open afternoons only, 2pm to 6pm. In winter the tea room is only open weekends.
- Closed days: none! Open 365 days a year!
Guided Tours: Download the free app Ephrussi for an interactive guided visit. Otherwise, audio guides are included with admission, or private tours with a guide can be arranged.
Tickets: 13€ for adults, 10€ for children ages 7-17, and students of all ages with student ID. You can get a discount of 2.50€ by showing your Zou pass or same-day TER train ticket, but the best deal is to get the 2 villa combo ticket with the Train discount for just 15.50€ (see above)
The two most famous villas on the coast have a family connection: The Baroness Rothschild’s husband’s cousin, Madame Fanny Reinach, built the luxurious Grecian Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-mer, and when the Baroness saw it she decided to build her own Italian-inspired Villa just two miles away, which I’m sure must have thrilled Madame Fanny no end.
Hours: Open 2pm-6pm, weekends and holidays 10am-6pm. Closed days: none! Open 365 days a year.
Tickets: 11.50€ for adults, 8€ reduced, and free for children under 18, and the disabled. Free on the first Sunday of each month from November to May. You can get a discount of 2.50€ by showing your Zou pass or same-day TER train ticket, but the best deal is to get the 2 villa combo ticket with the Train discount for just 15.50€ (see above)
How to get there:
Train: See above, and from the Beaulieu train station it is a 10 minutes walk.
Bus: Again, see above; with bus 81 get off at the ‘Kérylos’ stop, bus 100 get off at the ‘Église’ stop. You can see the Villa Kerylos on the far tip of the bay that starts at the Royal Riviera Hotel.
Uber: The address is Impasse Gustave Eiffel, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
The ‘Tattooed Villa’ Sainto Sospir
if you want to see yet another villa, something completely different and a work of imagination and modern art, call ahead and make a reservation to see the ‘Tattooed Villa’ Sainto Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
The fantastical Villa Santo Sospir is known as ‘The Tattooed Villa’ because Jean Cocteau methodically covered every surface with his boundless creativity. When a young socialite friend invited Jean Cocteau to spend a few days at her recently acquired villa, he came and …stayed for 11 years! Made restless by the newly painted white walls, he first made a drawing over the fireplace. Then he couldn’t stop, eventually covering every surface in the villa. Click here for the full story by Margo Lestz, and click here for more on Jean Cocteau including his museum in Menton.
How to get there: If you are coming back on bus 100, get off at the Pont Saint Jean stop and cross the street to transfer to bus #81, which comes every half hour; here’s the schedule, but this bus only takes you half the way there, then it is a 25 mintute walk. Or… walk down by the Royal Riviera Hotel to catch the gorgeous paved path to the Village of Saint Jean (15 minutes), and from there it is another 20 minutes to walk to get to the villa, which is on the tip of the presque-isle, near the Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat. Or just take an Uber
Hours: Open every day, but by reservation only: email email@example.com or call +33 4 93 76 00 16
Tickets: 12€ for adults
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