What it’s like to vacation in the exclusive community on the French Riviera nicknamed the ‘Peninsula of Billionaires,’ where royalty and tech tycoons live in opulent villas

The French Riviera town has been nicknamed the

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The French Riviera town has been nicknamed the “Peninsula of Billionaires.”
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Shutterstock/Giancarlo Liguori

  • Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is an exclusive community on the French Riviera that’s been known as a vacation hotspot for the well-heeled dating back to the late 1800s.
  • Its abundance of opulent historic villas owned by millionaires and billionaires has earned the seaside Mediterranean village the nickname the “Peninsula of Billionaires.”
  • Actors, politicians, royalty, and tech titans, from Winston Churchill to the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, have vacationed or owned homes in the French seaside town.

The French Riviera is known to be a playground for the rich and famous.

But of all the seaside towns, the village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat stands apart. The exclusive coastal community, known for its yacht-filled harbor and opulent historic villas, is home to only about 1,600 permanent residents.

“There are almost too many billionaires living here to count,” Edward de Mallet Morgan of Global Super Prime Residential told CNBC in 2018.

Here’s what it’s like in the affluent seaside community of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.


Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a town of about 1,600 people in the south of France.

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Getty Images

Source: INSEE


It’s located on the French Riviera, on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean Sea, about a 25 minute drive from Nice.

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Google Maps

Source: Google Maps


Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is known for its striking coastal views, stately villas, ultra-luxurious hotels, and yacht-filled harbor.

The French Riviera town has been nicknamed the

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Shutterstock/Giancarlo Liguori

Source: Four Seasons


It’s been a vacation hotspot for the well-heeled dating back to the late 1800s, when the area’s mild climate attracted wealthy British and Russian families, who soon turned it into a popular vacation destination.

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François BIBAL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Source: Saint Jean Cap Ferrat Tourisme


And in the 1950s and 60s, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat was a vacation destination for Hollywood actors like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Gregory Peck.

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Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on vacation at La Fiorentina in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
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Henry Clarke/Condé Nast via Getty Images

Source: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourisme


One of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s most iconic hotels for the well-heeled is the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, now managed by the Four Seasons.

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VALERY HACHE/AFP/GettyImages

Source: Four Seasons


The 49-room hotel opened in 1908 …

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A laid table overlooking the coast at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in southeastern France, circa 1965.
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Archive Photos/Getty Images

Source: Four Seasons


… and in 2011, it was was one of just eight French hotels given “palace” status, a new industry classification for luxury hotels that goes beyond the usual five stars.

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VALERY HACHE/AFP/GettyImages

Source: Getty


The hotel is a go-to accommodation for the well-heeled during the nearby Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. Nightly rates start at about $1,450.

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VALERY HACHE/AFP/GettyImages)

Source: Forbes, Four Seasons


Another five-star hotel that’s a magnet for celebrities is the Hotel Royal Riviera, a 94-room dusty-pink-hued hotel built in 1904.

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Hotel Royal Riviera/Facebook

Source: Hotel Royal Riviera


Nightly rates start at about $260.

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Hotel Royal Riviera/Facebook

Source: Hotel Royal Riviera


Beyond its luxurious hotels, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is known for its opulent historic villas.

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JARRY/TRIPELON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

One of the most famous is Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, built by Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild of the prominent French banking family between 1905 and 1912.

Source: Getty


After the death of the baroness in 1934, Villa Ephrussi was bequeathed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, an organization charged with protecting France’s artistic heritage.

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Villa Ephrussi
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Alain KUBACSI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Source: Académie des Beaux-Arts


It’s now open to the public for visits to its gardens, shopping at the gift shop, or relaxing with some refreshments in the tea room. Entry is €15 or about $17.

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JARRY/TRIPELON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Source: Académie des Beaux-Arts


But many of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s most magnificent villas are privately owned by some of the world’s wealthiest people.

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Cultura Exclusive/RUSS ROHDE

“There are almost too many billionaires living here to count,” Edward de Mallet Morgan of Global Super Prime Residential told CNBC in 2018.

Source: CNBC


Many other villas in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat are privately owned.

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Antoine VUELA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was the owner of the Villa Maryland, an 18-bedroom hilltop mansion in Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat, from at least 1996.

Source: Wall Street Journal


The Wall Street Journal estimates its current worth at about $100 million.

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Getty Images

Source: Wall Street Journal


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly stayed in the mansion during the Cannes Film Festival in May 2008.

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EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Curbed


Another of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s most iconic villas is Les Cèdres, a 189-year-old, 14-bedroom mansion that sits on 35 acres.

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The villa ‘Les Cèdres,’ which once belonged to King Leopold II of Belgium, in Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat.
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JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images

In 2017, the mansion was on the market for $410 million, making it the most expensive home for sale in the world. It appears to have since been taken off the market.

Source: Bloomberg


High-profile individuals visitors to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat include former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill …

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Winston Churchill with English writer William Somerset Maugham at the writer’s villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1959.
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Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Source: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourisme


… actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin …

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Chaplin with his daughter, Josephine, on vacation in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1957.
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Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Source: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourisme


… and Marie-Chantal, the crown princess of Greece.

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Marie Chantal Miller, the future wife of Prince Pavlos of Greece, strikes a pose in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1991.
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Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton also stand amongst the area’s high-profile visitors.

Source: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourisme


French writer Jean Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso were frequent visitors to the Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, owned by socialite Francine Weisweiller.

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Leo Rosenthal/Pix Inc./The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Source: Boat International


The villa is now a tourist attraction and hosts star-studded art events.

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“Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel at the Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar private view at Villa Santo Sospir on September 6, 2018 in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France.
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David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar)

Source: Santo Sospir


Today, the Mediterranean village is frequented by celebrities, including actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, as well as singer and actress Rita Ora.

Source: The Sun


Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha and her family have a summer home in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

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Source: Vogue


Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat doesn’t seem likely to lose its status as a haven for millionaires and billionaires anytime soon.

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John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images