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Cap Ferrat is one of the most emblematic enclaves in the south of France. Since the days when Belgium’s King Leopold II visited the still unknown peninsula to the present time, the area continues to haunt us with visions of idyllic Mediterranean landscapes, sunbathed and cooled by blue waters and gentle breezes.
The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, artfully integrated into the landscape, is an important contribution to the magical reputation of this region. The historic institution is set within a natural park and sits on 17 acres of pristine waterfront. It has received countless awards in its 121-year history. In 2011, Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat became the only establishment in the area to be labeled distinguished “Palace” by France’s Ministry of Tourism. Its ideal location atop the cliffs, its history and the quality of the services offered, make it more than a hotel, a destination in itself, a luxurious point of departure, from whence to explore the French Riviera.
The hotel boasts attractive amenities, like the celebrated Club Dauphin, located a short funicular ride away from the main building. Once there, guests can take advantage of the heated Olympic size saltwater pool, a restaurant, a bar and a children’s club. Furthermore, Club Dauphin offers private cabanas with exclusive room service.
Another great attraction is the hotel’s signature restaurant, Le Cap, under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Didier Anies, serving elegant, unpretentious local cuisine, and a wine list with more than 600 vintages from France and beyond.
The 8,000 square-foot spa, surrounded by fragrant gardens, has received numerous accolades, including the 2011 Villegiature Award for best European spa. In addition to private pool pavilions, it has a Jacuzzi, sauna, Hammam, treatment rooms and a gym.
The hotel belongs to the municipality of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a small village at the edge of the peninsula, between Nice and Monte Carlo. During much of the 19th century and part of the 20th, the territory was used for sheep herding and fox hunting. But the bucolic setting and mild weather caught the attention of European aristocrats, especially from northern Europe, who thought it would make a quiet, picturesque retreat. England’s Queen Victoria spent many a season at her palace on Cimiez hill, not far from Cap Ferrat, where other English noblemen had also built impressive palaces.
The American elite discovered the French Riviera in the years between the world wars of the 20th century. American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald was a frequent guest of the Côte d’ Azur. In his last novel, Tender is the Night, he chronicles the adventures of a glamorous bunch who rent a villa not far from Cap Ferrat. The French Riviera has also greeted some of the most celebrated artists of the last couple of centuries, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau, who came for the stimulating landscape and laid back atmosphere. Some of them spent long periods of semi-permanent residence in the area.
The French Riviera or Côte d’Azur is closely related to the world of cinema. Since 1939, it hosts the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most important cinematic events in the world, which attracts the most renowned movie stars year after year. Sex kitten, actress Brigitte Bardot is forever associated with the small seaside resort of Saint-Tropez, another jewel on the Côte d’Azur. ■