I live in a magnificent region. The French Riviera really has something unique, especially on wonderful days such as today. Just when I thought Autumn was kicking in (way too) early in September, well it actually didn’t, and now in mid-October we are back on having bright and warm sunny days as if we were still in Summer – which brings so much joy to my heart, you can’t imagine, I’m living again!
With a friend of mine, we decided to get the most out of this beautiful weather and to travel around, on what the current trend calls the staycation mode. You know, vacation around or in the place you actually stay. And it was fun! My friend is in fact from Ariège (a department near the city of Toulouse), and even though I am from Nice, I recently kind of started re-discovering my region after many years living in other French cities and other countries too. Today was a day like this, re-visiting a small town I used to go to with my parents as a child. My friend Gaelle has been living in Nice for over 10 years, and she still likes traveling around the area as if she were a tourist, and so do I obviously.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a sort of peninsula of the Côte d’Azur, on the French Riviera. The fun thing to do there – beside people watch and mega boats watch – is to walk along the coast on a pedestrian path that has been arranged all along the bay. The path goes up and down the hill, and rises above the sea from pretty high over here, then suddenly from just centimeters over there, allowing people to go down and take a swim by simply descending a few big rocks or a couple of stone stair steps.
Boats were out in the bay today, and people were lazily loitering on board, taking in as much sun as they could, over clean and clear waters. Quite a lot of foreign tourists were visiting by foot too. Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat is a great little town to spend a day, it’s quite chic and bourgeois, and tourists and locals alike appreciate as much the view over the fabulous landscapes as the sight of all the luxurious houses that gently crowds the coastline. The peculiarity of the coastline in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (and other small towns of the area), is that the mountain is quite directly diving into the sea, creating a very special landscape; after all, our department is called Maritime Alps, that sure is for a reason.
While strolling on the pedestrian path by the seaside, tourists eventually are used to making a quick detour by a little catholic chapel, called in French the Chapelle Saint-Hospice. Right next to the entrance, there is a massive statue of a Madona with her bambino, both looking over the sea. We went inside but could not really find any information about the history of the chapel, but we found out that its construction dates back to the 17th Century. What struck us though, was the highly unexpected presence, near photos of sick children or deceased people, of another photo of… Michael Jackson!! I mean… someone came to here and prayed for the King of Pop?! Well… why not, after all, all prayers are welcomed and a sign of lovingkindness, but I must admit it was really surprising to find this in such a remote place in a small village of France!
This really was a beautiful day. Quite some people were actually sunbathing and swimming in the sea, and all restaurants and cafés terraces were full of customers. This is honestly quite usual in the region this time of the year, but it’s always nice to point it out and make something special out of just a normal day – especially because in September we thought Autumn will be coming earlier that it should, as I said already.
The day trip to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat can be arranged by yourself, in my opinion there is no need to book a tour, except perhaps if the day tour program offers you a chance to combine with the visit of another small town, in which case you’d lose less time waiting for the next transportation for instance. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat mainly is about the views over the Mediterranean Sea, strolling along the beach, spotting nice boats, visiting the magnificent Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (planned for my next visit) and drinking wine or other refreshment in one of the many cafés overhung above the port area.
Getting to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat from Nice is fairly easy. There are 3 options, those are one by train and two by bus. From the main train station downtown (called Nice-Ville, gare SNCF), simply take one of the many TER PACA towards Vintimille (Vintimiglia in Italian, as this regional train goes all the way from Cannes to right behind the Italian border in the city of Vintimiglia, via Nice). Not all the TER PACA stop at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat though, therefore you’ll need to check the timetable and make sure to hop on the right train. If you prefer the bus, hop on the bus #81 in Nice at the station Promenade des Arts near the MAMAC (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts), and get down at the last station in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. Your last option is to take the bus #100 in Nice again at the station Gustavin / Carnot, direction the city of Menton, and get down at Le Port in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, then stroll along the coast up to Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat by foot; for the way back, get on the bus #81 or take the train. And either way, don’t forget your sunglasses!!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2017 All Rights Reserved.