From Royalty to the Rolling Stones: St Jean Cap Ferrat
St Jean Cap Ferrat, a commune of the Alpes-Maritimes department in south-eastern France, is located at the apex of a golden triangle peninsula between the stylish Beaulieu-sur-Mer and the picture-perfect harbour of Villefranche.
Boasting some of the most beautiful properties on the French Riviera, the tranquil setting has become a favourite destination for a number of international millionaires.
The once small fishing town of St Jean Cap Ferrat has an interesting and varied history – a base for pirates until the 11th century, it was later part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, but occupied on and off by the French for hundreds of years. In the latter part of the 19th century the town officially became a part of France, and by 1904 had established itself as a self-standing commune, attracting a host of kings and wealthy visitors.
This influx of royalty – both the Hollywood and bona fide varieties – resulted in a number of luxurious properties being built in the town. Of these, La Fleur du Cap (originally known as Villa Socoglio) is perhaps the most legendary. Built in 1880 by Alfred Bounin, the son of an arms supplier, the house was inhabited by the Duchess of Marlborough, Leopold III, King of the Belgians and Charlie Chaplin, before
being purchased by film actor David Niven in 1960.
Thanks to Niven, the house itself became a movie star, appearing in the Trail of the Pink Panther in 1983 – the same year that Niven himself died. The small square in front of the villa is named Place David Niven, in tribute to the actor.
Villa Nellcôte is another infamous property in the area, situated in Villefranche, just outside St Jean Cap Ferrat. A 19th century, 16-room mansion, the property was rented during the summer of 1971 by Keith Richards, guitarist for The Rolling Stones. Once the headquarters for the local Gestapo during the Nazi occupation of France, the controversial rock band felt a “chemistry” with the unusual house and recorded their 1972 album Exile on Main Street in the villa’s basement.
Today, a number of stunning properties are available in the town, including this beautiful villa offering sea views, a private pool and contemporary design throughout. Within walking distance of the village and beach, the €3.8 million luxury property comprises four bedrooms, a spacious terrace and a parking garage.
Situated next to the prestigious Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, this four-bedroomed Provencal style house has been beautifully restored by a renowned French architect who has incorporated many of the villa’s original features into the new design. Inside the €9.5 million villa, a striking spiral staircase leads to a large gallery – which is perfect for displaying paintings – while downstairs both the kitchen and reception room open out to the pool, terrace and garden areas.
This exceptional house, in the centre of town boasts 360 degree views of the sea, an infinity pool, six bedrooms and a parking garage for seven cars. The property, which has been fully renovated using the highest quality materials, can be purchased for €30 million.