Villas and Grand Estates


The King of Belgium Leopold II had been buying land in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat since 1889 and ended up owning over 50 hectares on the west slope of the peninsula.



Grand estates

The first villas sprang up along the seafront that connects the peninsula to the neighbouring town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer (currently the Promenade Maurice Rouvier). One of the oldest is the villa known as "Lo Scoglietto" (today known as the "Fleur du Cap") which was owned first by Charlie Chaplin and later David Niven.

King Leopold II of Belgium began acquiring land on the Cap from 1889, within a few years becoming the owner of over 50 hectares of the western side of the peninsula. Firstly, he bought a small villa near the Passable district (now the "Iberia" villa), boasting its own private harbour. But his best acquisition was undoubtedly the villa "Les Cèdres", which he had extended. It was to be host to big names such as the Grand Duke Peter of Russia, Lord Salisbury and Prince Charles, heir to the Swedish and Norwegian thrones. Within the grounds of this property, he had a villa built (now the Villa "Radiana") to house his mistress, Baroness Vaughan. He was also responsible for building three other villas, «Boma", "Matadi" and "Banana", named after three villages located along the river Congo.

In 1898, an industrialist from Lyon named Emile Crozet-Fourneyron had a circular villa built on the site of a former grain mill. He named it «La Vigie". Overlooking the village, this magnificent abode enjoys views stretching from the Cap d'Antibes to the Italian coast.
Neighbouring La Vigie, the Villa "Maryland" is just as spectacular with its magnificent cloistered patio topped with a terrace supported by red marble columns. It was built in 1904 at the request of the Briton Arthur Wilson, a personal friend of Edward VII. The villa hosted sumptuous receptions for the British community based on the French Riviera.

The American artist Ralph Curtis had a grand Italian-style residence built in 1902, with a roof topped with green varnished tiles. He named it after his daughter, Sylvia. During the Fifties, the villa was bought by Pasha Ibrahim Hussein who renamed it "Baia dei Fiori".

"Château Saint Jean", a splendid residence in a Venetian neo-gothic style set in grounds covering a hectare and boasting a private harbour with boat house, was built in 1899 on the orders of the Italian-German banker Carlo Wedekind. Originally named Château Wedekind, the villa was bought by the Hungarian Princess Wilma Iwoff de Parlagny in 1909, and renamed Château Saint Jean. An unusual feature at the time, the bathroom housed a kind of pool measuring 1.6 metres deep and 3 metres wide instead of a bathtub.
In 1917, the Countess of Beauchamp had a vast residence built on the Saint Hospice headland within grounds spread across 22 hectares, which she named "La Fiorentina". She sold the property to Sir Edmund Davis, a South African diamond mine magnate, who was responsible for creating most of the tourist path that runs around this small peninsula. Successive owners altered the appearance of the villa, and even though its grounds are now reduced to 3 hectares, it remains one of the French Riviera's most beautiful properties.

The 1880s saw the construction of the Villa "Primavera" on the small headland located between the Fosses and Fossettes beaches. It was commissioned by Ernest Cunard, the founder of the Cunard Line specialising in shipping to Australia, New Zealand and India. Between the two world wars, it was owned by Haring Philips of the Dutch company Philips. The French president Giscard d’Estaing stayed there in 1974.

Built in 1908, the Villa "Les Bruyères" was bought after the First World War by Queen Victoria's son the Duke of Connaught, who kept it until 1942. The British writer Somerset Maugham acquired the Villa "La Mauresque" in 1928, and lived there for many years until his death in 1965. He planted many species of fruit trees in the four hectare grounds, including the first avocado trees in Europe. At the height of his success between the two world wars, he hosted many prestigious guests such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill, Harpo Marx, Lord Beaverbrook and the Aga Khan.