Cap Ferrat’s Historic Villas: A Nautical Tour of Architectural Masterpieces


The picturesque Cap Ferrat peninsula is home to some of the French Riviera’s most stunning and historically significant villas. These architectural masterpieces, many of which can be admired from the water, offer fascinating insights into the region’s rich cultural heritage and the lavish lifestyles of its former residents. In this article, we’ll explore the captivating history and design of three of Cap Ferrat’s most iconic villas, showcasing the unique allure of this prestigious destination.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Perched atop the highest point of the Cap Ferrat peninsula, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is an architectural marvel and a testament to the opulence of the French Riviera’s golden age. Constructed between 1905 and 1912 for Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, this striking pink villa was designed by architect Aaron Messiah in the Italian Renaissance style.

Surrounded by nine meticulously landscaped gardens, the villa boasts a vast collection of art, including rare porcelain, tapestries, and paintings, as well as an extensive collection of rare books. While the villa itself is not accessible by boat, it is a must-see landmark that can be admired from the water as you cruise around the peninsula. A visit to the gardens and villa by land is highly recommended.

Villa Kerylos

Built between 1902 and 1908, Villa Kerylos is a remarkable recreation of an ancient Greek villa, complete with ornate frescoes, mosaic floors, and marble columns. Commissioned by French archaeologist Theodore Reinach, the villa was designed by architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, who drew inspiration from the noble houses of the island of Delos.

Today, Villa Kerylos stands as a testament to Reinach’s passion for ancient Greek culture and his desire to create a living museum that transported visitors back in time. Although the villa can only be visited on foot, its unique design and prominent location on the Beaulieu-sur-Mer coastline make it a fascinating sight to admire from the sea.

Villa Santo Sospir

Nestled on the western tip of the Cap Ferrat peninsula, Villa Santo Sospir is a hidden gem with a captivating history. Built in the 1930s, this waterfront villa was once home to socialite Francine Weisweiller, who hosted a dazzling array of artists, writers, and musicians throughout the mid-20th century.

The villa’s most striking feature is its interior decoration by artist Jean Cocteau, who transformed the walls and ceilings with elaborate frescoes inspired by Greek mythology. While Villa Santo Sospir is not open to the public, it can be admired from the water as you cruise along the peninsula’s rugged coastline, providing a glimpse into the artistic legacy of the French Riviera.

In conclusion, Cap Ferrat’s historic villas offer a fascinating window into the region’s architectural and cultural heritage. As you explore the Cap Ferrat by  boat, be sure to take the time to admire these magnificent landmarks and immerse yourself in the captivating stories that have shaped the French Riviera’s history. Whether it’s the opulence of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, the ancient splendor of Villa Kerylos, or the artistic legacy of Villa Santo Sospir, these architectural masterpieces showcase the unique allure of Cap Ferrat and its enduring appeal to the world’s elite.

Jack Zoe
the authorJack Zoe