Another sunny day on the Côte d’Azur, another day trip. We originally set out to hike the perimeter of Cap Ferrat and tour both the Villa Ephrussi and Villa Kerylos all on the same day. Half way through last Saturday’s hike, we realized it would be more enjoyable to split the hike in two and see one villa at a time. So last week we hiked from Beaulieu-sur-mer to St. Jean and the easternmost part of the peninsula ending at the Villa Ephrussi.
This trip we knew we wanted to hike the lighthouse portion of the peninsula and tour Villa Kerylos so we started at the villa.
Villa Kerylos is the creation of Theodore Reinach and his wife, Fanny Kann, the niece of Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild. Both Theodore and his brother were avid scholars and their initials formed the monogram JST which lead to the french nickname for them- Je sais tout- meaning "I know all".
It was his love of Greek enlightenment, government and philosophy that lead him to create this villa filled with frescos, artifacts, statuary and furnishings that both inspires and relaxes.
Built between 1902 and 1908 by an archaeologist turned architect who had rebuilt the Acropolis, it is the perfect example of greek architecture and style with statues and frescos relating to Greek Mythology, tiled mosaic floors and astounding views of the Mediterranean from almost every window.
I’m not sure how much Pete was joking when he commented “villa goals” from the dining room complete with 180 degree views of the sea and leather woven sofas so that the visitors can eat in a reclined position like the Greeks..
The mosaic doormat at the entry reads
After a stop at the Casino(grocery, not gambling) in Beaulieu, we picnicked on the beach of the Baie des Fourmis and began our hike.
This was not simple to find so I have added some directional pictures. But believe me, the path is worth the search. We walked over the Pont St. Jean, past the Villa Ephrussi and entered on the western side at the Plage de Passage, a small, private beach complete with the typical Côte d’Azur overpriced beach restaurant and umbrellas for rent.
You almost think you are in the wrong spot as the path starts just to the south of an out of place four story gray block condominium but then…..
you head up hill and the narrow path runs along the water’s edge all the way out to the lighthouse.
There are several steep sections with no railing that will make your palms sweat but the views of Villefranche, Mont Boron, and Nice in the distance are spectacular.
Pack your swimsuit because there are several secluded spots to climb down the rocks and swim. We played the typical loud Americans when we hit the FREEZING water- we are spoiled with the warm Gulf of Mexico- but the water was so clear we could see sea urchins, fish and any rocks from the surface.
The complete western tip of the peninsula takes about 1.5 hours to hike and heading counterclockwise, you end up in the village of St. Jean with plenty of options for a drink and a snack, or a rest on the beach, before hopping back on bus 81 to head back to Nice.
Note: If you are doing this part of the hike clockwise- this would be your entry- it would be easy to get discouraged for the first 10 minutes, it looks like a private drive and a graffiti covered deserted beach.