Season 1 - Episode 1 Hidden Riviera: Francophile journeys on the Côte d'Azur
Updated: Jan 29
Episode 1 is full of people with passions.
Explore antiquity, the French 18th century, movie stars of the 20th century and more in the beautiful environs of Beaulieu - sur - Mer and St - Jean - Cap - Ferrat - both ideal day trips from Nice.
Listen to the show on the podcast page here or on the web, including Spotify and Deezer.
Here you can find the transcript and some additional show notes for your enjoyment below. Let's explore further...
Where's your favourite spot on the Côte d'Azur?
🇫🇷 Show notes / transcript for the episode
In beautiful Beaulieu, the Villa Kérylos is an unusual sight on the horizon, in the lovely bay here. The obsession with antiquity and designing a building as a complete whole, a unity of design, form and function is really interesting. It's an experience like no other on this glittering coastline, and well worth a visit.
Beaulieu - sur - Mer - Favourite finds
The Villa Kérylos is a fascinating place. More information available at their website.
Pâtisserie in Beaulieu - Patrick Mesiano
Bakery/boulangerie - Boulange de Beaulieu
Both are situated on Boulevard Marinoni, Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
Dinner at La Reserve and a visit to the casino perhaps?
If that's not your style, how about a more fascinating evening... an eco-friendly private boat tour at sunset perhaps? Check out the amazing SeaZen with their silent, elegant boat, you can even enjoy a Covid-19 safe journey and see Beaulieu (and more) from the water.
St - Jean - Cap - Ferrat
An exploration of lush gardens from roses to lavender, umbrella pines and palm trees, there is something for every time of the year and from many places all around the world.
Pink houses, always the popular Instagram image these days, are just fun aren't they? The first pink house of this journey is the charming "Fleur du Cap", once owned by David Niven and Charlie Chaplin, it's now a private home again. Located from the sentier littoral coastal walk, along Boulevard Maurice Rouvier, you can find the house by place David Niven, named after the famous British actor, Hollywood star and local resident. If you've never read David Niven's autobiography (The Moon's a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses, which is more about Hollywood between 1925 and 1960) I thoroughly recommend it - no need to be a Francophile to enjoy this one.
Beyond the beautiful houses and villas, the little town and harbour are a lovely walk. Continuing the sentier littoral is always worth the walk, in good weather it is pretty easy but some of the ground can be rough, rocky and close to the sea (around the headland of the cap in particular). For fully accessible, flat surfaces, the majority of the walk between Beaulieu and St Jean is fine. There are some gravelly spots near the beach, (where I actually found some octogenarians playing pétanque) so it's not completely wheelchair-friendly all the way to the town centre.
St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat - Favourite finds
Villa Santo Sospir, which should re-open fully in 2021, is of course a hidden gem on Cap Ferrat.
Cocktails, dinner, drinks or lunch and a day at the poolside "Club Dauphin" Grand-Hôtel-Cap-Ferrat
Beatling around in a beautiful classic car might be just your style. Wonderful trips along the Riviera are possible with Rent A Classic Car (no affiliation). Check out their gorgeous selection of vehicles. 😍 You could head over to Vence, La Turbie, Menton, Monaco and up to Eze (sigh).
Walking to Villefranche - sur - Mer and following the trails is well worth it. For more information you can find more walking maps and details from the St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat tourism office here.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild - explroing eccentric beauty in St - Jean - Cap - Ferrat
The second pink house of the episode is the unusual, slightly otherworldly Villa Ephrussi. A house built as a retreat, an escape, a dream. Practically, it probably looks this way due to the fact that Béatrice got through 7 architects on this project so it could house her possessions and collections as she wanted. Now, if you've seen Grand Designs, I think Kevin McCloud would have something to say about that. 😆
As in today's episode, I thoroughly recommend a visit to the house and gardens. It's well worth a large proportion of your day here to take your time - especially in fine weather as the gardens are wonderful. www.villa-ephrussi.com/en
Due to Covid-19, there are rules in place for visiting and it is best to download the application for a version of the audio guide, go with your mask and follow the other rules on-site.
Béatrice is something of an enigma, like many women in history, no one wrote her story and many of the accounts of her, like any source, need to be understood in the context of the time and the person making the observation. For more on the Rothschild family in general, you might enjoy this:
For more about collections like these and the French 18th century, producers, makers and more at these links and resources:
Christies guide to Sèvres porcelain
The J.P. Getty Museum has more information on the Vincennes Manufactory where much of the porcelain was made. Find out more here.
🇫🇷 Feel inspired
The Ephrussi family dynasty explored in the bestseller (affiliate link to Amazon, at no cost to you):
The full guide to the Villa and beautiful gifts: of course, like any museum, the gift shop is available onsite and online. If you're wishing you could be there, perhaps pick up a guide (languages include English and French) and something interesting or beautiful. You can exit this blog post and Find the gift shop here.
Many thanks for joining me on today's episode. Until next time when we explore more art, history and hidden gems on the wonderful Côte d'Azur!