I took a taxi from the Nice airport to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, whizzing through beautiful tangled streets and catching glimpses of azure sea and brightly colored buildings. I was dropped at the Hotel Brise Marine, a gorgeous 19th century Italianate villa, owned by a darling local family.
The kind owner (who did not speak English – not a problem as I speak enough French to get by) gave me my key. I headed upstairs to my room, and when I opened the large windows and saw the view (above), my jaw dropped. I had not anticipated the sheer magnificence and gentle tranquility of this place – the boats drifting by, the rolling hills, the soft sound of the sea.
I excitedly dug in my suitcase for my swimsuit and headed straight for Paloma Beach, a hidden gem just a 5-minute walk from my hotel. I paused at the top and lingered over this view, truly in awe. I had never seen any place like this before.
At Paloma, you can either set up a towel at no cost on one side of the beach, or you can pay for a chair, towel, and beachside service. I chose this option as the beach is rocky, and I had no towel. Plus, I wanted to indulge in a drink. Behind me, there was a lovely restaurant, changing rooms, showers, and a restroom. The chair was absolutely worth it – I felt instantly relaxed here. I could not take my eyes off the view.
I stayed until the late afternoon when they began closing up the beach – I simply could not leave. I swam in the ocean twice, and my heart felt so full. I truly had no idea that Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was so magical – or that it would become one of my favorite places in the world.
I left the beach to change and freshen up – and found myself incredibly hungry from my travels. I wanted to head back to Paloma Beach for dinner, but they were not opening for dinner service until 8 p.m. (They eat later in the Riviera!) Instead, I walked into town for the first time – which was so charming – and sat down on the terrace of Le Cadillac, overlooking the port. I had my first of many glasses of rosé and some delicious pizza – of which I ate entirely. (I was so hungry!) I headed back to the comfortable hotel thereafter and fell into a deep, happy sleep.
The next morning, I slept until 10:15 a.m. and awoke in a panic! I never sleep so late at home, but I was, of course, a big jet lagged and adjusting to the new time. Breakfast at Brise Marine was to be from 8-10, but when I headed downstairs, the owner’s son (who does speak English) kindly served me a croissant and some Earl Grey tea – just what I needed. Breakfast is served on a lovely terrace overlooking the sea. It was simple, but delightful.
The weather was a dream once again, and so I decided to walk the 20 minutes (a pleasant, very doable walk) to the stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The bright pink villa and breathtaking gardens absolutely blew me away. I had never been anywhere so gorgeous.
The villa also provides incredible views of Villefranche-sur-Mer. I watched the boats go by for a long while.
I ended up wandering the interior of the villa and the gardens for nearly 3 hours! I just could not stop. I cannot describe the beauty, and my photos certainly do not do it justice.
I did take a break for lunch in the villa’s tea room, where they serve light, refreshing salads. I lingered over the terrace, not quite believing where I was.
After soaking up some final views, I walked back to the hotel. On my way, I popped by the Casino Shop in town and grabbed some groceries for dinner that night. I did this to save a little money on another meal, and I had a mini fridge in my room at Hotel Brise Marine! I returned to the hotel and put my snacks away, and, feeling quite warm from all the sun, headed back to Paloma Beach for a swim. I once again snagged a chair and towel and stayed until the beach’s close.
That evening, I sat in front of my window at the hotel and gazed at the view while I ate, feeling a new happiness and a sense of being really and truly alive.
The next morning, I set my alarm and woke up for the full breakfast at the hotel. Natural yogurt, local cheeses and jams, fresh pastries – it was all absolutely delicious. I was to be checking out that morning to head to Nice, but before I did, I packed and decided to take a trail walk I had noticed the previous day. I walked around the length of the cap by the sea (a 45-minute walk) and admired the spectacular views looking onto Èze and Monaco (seen above). The trail was lovely and easy to walk, and actually ended back at Paloma Beach!
I took a last look at Paloma Beach and grew sad. In just two days I already felt incredibly attached to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Cap-Ferrat was not crowded or touristy. It was slow, calm, and peaceful. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. I will always feel so fond of this place and treasure my time here. I highly recommend staying at Hotel Brise Marine – I cannot imagine a more special hotel, and with the dreamiest view.
I checked out of the hotel at 11:30 a.m. on another perfect, sunny morning (just look at the terrace in front of the hotel, seen above) and stepped into a taxi to Nice, where I was to be staying at the start of a group trip (all strangers!) hosted by FTLO Travel. I felt sad to leave Cap-Ferrat but excited to meet my soon-to-be travel companions for the next week.
Upcoming post: Days 6-8 in Nice, Èze, and Villefranche-sur-Mer.