L’expo plein air des 120 ans

Promenade Maurice Rouvier

Promenade Maurice Rouvier

Formerly known as the Chemin Saint-Ambroise, Promenade Maurice Rouvier is one of the three oldest footpaths in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, along with the Chemin de Grasseuil and the Chemin des Moulins.

The peninsula provided open grazing along the headland, with goats often found roaming along Chemin Saint-Ambroise, and was also a popular place among visitors and residents to enjoy a stroll. It was renamed Maurice Rouvier in 1905.

Who was Maurice Rouvier?

A look back at the life of Maurice Rouvier

Born in 1842 and died in 1911, this lawyer, banker, journalist, and politician was one of the fiercest advocates for the village’s independence.



  • An ideal place for a leisurely stroll
  • The goats on Chemin Saint-Ambroise
  • The olive groves at the foot of Chemin des Moulins
  • A look back at the life of Maurice Rouvier


Place David Niven

An iconic residence found on Promenade Maurice Rouvier; the present-day Villa Fleur du Cap was once known as Lo Scoglietto (little rock in Italian).

Once home to British actor David Niven for over twenty years, this magnificent property has been a popular celebrity hotspot for some time.

Actor Charlie Chaplin rented this property to enjoy a summer here with his family.

At the time, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was the chosen holiday destination for actors, artists, writers, and celebrities from all over the world.


  • David Niven at the Villa Lo Scoglietto with his wife Hjördis and their children.
  • The evolution of Villa Lo Scoglietto
  • Charlie Chaplin with his family in the summer of 1957


A piece of history

The first villas built along Chemin Saint-Ambroise include Villa Sicard (late 19th century) and Panorama Palace (formerly the Hôtel Bedford and now the Royal Riviera). It was the first luxury hotel to be built in the village in 1904.

Panorama Palace became a school for orphans during the First World War and Villa Sicard served as an orphanage.



1 – War orphans in front of the carpentry workshop

2 and 3 – War orphans living at Villa Sicard on a stroll along Promenade Maurice Rouvier and eating a meal.

  • Panorama Palace Hotel

PLACE SOSNO : Aristocracy and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat



Aristocracy and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

At the end of the 19th century, Europe was experiencing a period of social, economic, technological, and political progress that marked the start of the Belle Epoque. This prosperous period spurred the development of the Côte d’Azur, and Cap-Ferrat became a favourite holiday destination among the world’s elite.

Villa Les Cèdres

King Leopold II of Belgium described the Côte d’Azur as “paradise on earth”.

His strong interest in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was sparked in 1899. He bought his first home, nestled in the cliffs of Passable, before acquiring almost the entire western slope of Cap-Ferrat, where he built several villas.

In 1904, he acquired the villa once belonging to David Désiré Pollonnais, former mayor of Villefranche, which he renamed Les Cèdres.

Upon his death in 1909, his collection of residences fell into the hands of the Belgian state.

In 1924, Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, creator of the famous Grand Marnier liqueur, purchased the estate.

Did you know?

The 14-hectare grounds of Villa Les Cèdres are listed in the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Just a stone’s throw away, on the Colline des Moulins, Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild acquired a seven-hectare plot of land in 1905, on which she had an Italian Renaissance-style palace built, surrounded by gardens. Due to the rocky terrain, which made it very challenging to create the gardens, it took several years for the estate to be completed.

A keen traveller and avid art collector, she named the villa Île de France after the ocean liner aboard which she had spent a truly memorable stay.

In 1933, a year before her death, she bequeathed the villa and her entire art collection to the Académie des Beaux-Arts.



Did you know?

The original colour of the façade was ochre-yellow. The villa was finally refurbished to its present colour in 1945, at the end of the Second World War.


Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat,

A Four Seasons Hotel ***** Palace

Built in 1908 on the tip of Cap-Ferrat, this hotel offered the latest comforts of its time (a lift, central heating, electricity, and bathrooms). The following year, a large, Eiffel-style rotunda was built. From 1934, guests could enjoy the private beach near Passable, and in 1939, what was then an Olympic-sized swimming pool perched at the foot of the hotel.

Renowned for its tranquillity and isolated location, the Grand-Hôtel has been a celebrity magnet throughout the decades and became the first establishment to obtain the coveted “Palaces de France” distinction in 2011.



  • The Villa Les Cèdres facade and a portrait of King Léopold II of Belgium
  • Map of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat with Belgian state property in 1910
  • The French garden at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat facade
  • The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, at the tip of the Cap-Ferrat headland
  • Sun Beach swimming pool at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, built in 1939


The Lighthouse

Important dates in the history of the lighthouse:

1732: The extension of the existing fire tower

1837: The construction of the lighthouse in replacement of the old fire tower

1860: The tower became the Cap-Ferrat lighthouse after the county of Nice was ceded to France

1944: The Germans demolished the building after the Allied invasion that led to the liberation of the nearby town of Nice

Already occupied by the Italian army, February 1944 saw the Germans invade the peninsula and order all locals to evacuate. As the location was strategic, they barricaded it by building reinforced concrete blockhouses on Saint-Hospice and the headland. Tunnels were dug, mines peppered the peninsular, and access to the seafront was blocked by barbed wire fences.

1 November 1944: The people of Saint-Jean were finally allowed to return home.

1951: The lighthouse was reconstructed to its present form as a pyramid-shaped tower with canted sides. The first floor was built with stone from La Turbie.

2012: The lighthouse receives Historic Monument status.


The Semaphore

It was in 1806 that Napoleon I, anxious to protect the coastline from sea invasions, asked the Ministry of the Navy to set up a system for monitoring ships from land. This is how the semaphore network was created.

It was later modernised with the arrival of the electric telegraph and Morse code.

In 1862, Napoleon III equipped France with a structured network whose missions were set out in precise terms which led to the development of the Cap-Ferrat network.

The highest point rises 143 metres above sea level.

Semaphore lookouts are members of the French Navy who perform a wide range of missions. The area under surveillance stretches between the Italian border and Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.

Did you know?

There are 59 semaphores in France, including 19 in the Mediterranean.


The missions

– Monitoring maritime traffic as it approaches to protect national interests

– Safeguarding people and property at sea

– Improving the safety and security of maritime traffic

– Combating illegal activities (maritime trafficking, illegal immigration, terrorism)

– Protecting the environment (fire outbreaks, cetacean surveillance, etc.)


Did you know?

There are three types of lighthouses: Paradise (you can walk to it from the mainland), Hell (on the open sea) and Purgatory (on the islands). Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s is, of course, Paradise!



  • The lighthouse prior to 1944
  • Rebuilding the lighthouse
  • The lighthouse has 164 steps. It’s located 70 metres above sea level and its beam of light scans the horizon every three seconds.
  • The outer lighthouse is fluted, but the inner lighthouse is completely round.


A few prominent figures from the headland

Jean Cocteau at the Villa Santo Sospir

Purchased in 1946, Villa Santo Sospir was the holiday home of Alec and Francine Weisweiller. In 1950, after meeting a few months earlier on the set of the film « Les Enfants Terribles », the artist Jean Cocteau was invited to come and stay at Santo Sospir.

Cocteau soon found himself becoming restless and suggested to Francine that he create a piece of art above the fireplace. Which, upon the suggestion of Matisse and Picasso, soon grew into a series of freehand frescoes inspired by Greek mythology that eventually « tattooed » the rest of the house.

« We didn’t need to dress up the walls, we needed to draw on their skin, which is why I treated the frescoes linearly with little colour so as to enhance the tattoos, Santo Sospir is a tattooed villa. »

Cocteau produced over 200 “tattoos”. Once the walls, doors and furniture had been covered, he tackled the ceilings and the outside of the house.


Did you know?

The Villa Santo Sospir was granted status as a listed monument in 1995 upon entry into the Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques.

Part of the filming for « The Testament of Orpheus » took place at Villa Santo Sospir.

Did you know?

Cocteau was the first person in Europe to introduce avocado trees to the grounds of his estate.


William Somerset Maugham at the Villa La Mauresque

The name derives from its original oriental-influenced design. The various owners continually altered the building, leaving it only Moorish in name.

In 1927, the property was acquired by esteemed British writer, Somerset Maugham, who lived there until his death in 1965. As an art collector, many of his artworks and other pieces were garnered during his travels.

He hosted distinguished guests such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, H.G. Wells and Winston Churchill.


Gregory Peck at Villa La Doma

Hollywood actor Gregory Peck visited Villefranche-sur-Mer to film in the harbour and subsequently purchased Villa La Doma. He owned the property for around fifteen years, spending time there regularly with his family.

He was a regular fixture on the headland and around the streets of the village, mingling seamlessly with the locals.



  • Jean Cocteau on the staircase of Villa Santo Sospir
  • The dining room in Villa Santo Sospir
  • The living room in Villa Santo Sospir
  • His superstitious beliefs led him to place a cabalistic sign (to ward off the evil eye) at the entrance to the villa, this has since been removed.
  • Winston Churchill and Somerset Maugham at Villa Mauresque.
  • Gregory Peck and his wife in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat


Place Clemenceau : The Pêcheur à l'épervier statue

Place Clemenceau

The Pêcheur à l’épervier statue


The Pêcheur à l’épervier statue is a bronze work by the artist Claude Vignon. This marble sculpture was also created for the French government as part of the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris. It is now the property of the Musée d’Orsay.

In 1891, a few years after Claude Vignon’s death, her husband Maurice Rouvier bequeathed the bronze statue to Saint-Jean. Initially installed above the old port, it was finally moved to the village square in 1907.

During the Second World War, the Germans, in need of metal, stole the statue. Placed in workshops in the port of Nice, it was saved by an employee who recognised it and hid it underneath the warehouse.

Who was Claude Vignon?

A look back at the life of Claude Vignon

Claude Vignon, pseudonym of Marie-Noémi Cadiot, was a sculptor, art critic, journalist, and novelist (1828-1888). She was the wife of Maurice Rouvier (former President of the Alpes Maritimes County Council).

 Did you know?

The « L’épervier » is a casting net filled with lead weights that can be cast in shallow water. As it hits the water, the weights gather to form a pocket where the fish are caught (like a sparrow hawk catches its prey). The best time for « La pêche à l’épervier », fishing known as « Lou Ressai », was autumn and winter around Saint-Hospice.

Claude Vignon was inspired to create this statue after spotting a fisherman in the cove of Les Fossettes.



  • The statue above the old port
  • The statue in Place Clemenceau





1907-1931 the tramway linked Nice to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

The train arrived in Nice in 1864 and was extended to Beaulieu in 1868.

It never reached Saint-Jean because the proposed station at the entrance to the peninsula was rejected.

Before 1900, a stagecoach service ran between Nice and Saint-Jean.

In 1907, following the creation of what is now Avenue Denis Séméria, the tramway finally linked Nice to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat via Mont-Boron and Villefranche.

The tramway then took the « new » route, passing in front of Villa Les Cèdres, then on to the Town Hall, before the journey was terminated at the car park (now Place Clemenceau).

In 1931, a bus service, considered faster and more comfortable, permanently replaced the use of trams in the area.



  • Pont Saint-Jean area, in front of the former Mont Fleuri hotel, where one of the tramway stations was located
  • Development of the existing Avenue Denis Séméria
  • The entrance to the headland and the village (towards Les Cèdres villa)
  • End of the tramway line from Nice
  • The Town Hall area/Promenade Maurice Rouvier
  • The official opening of the tramway – 1907


The origins of Saint-Jean

Originally part of Villefranche (like the hamlet of Beaulieu), Saint-Jean was a fishing and farming hamlet. Local life revolved around the port and the church, which were home to just a few houses at the time.

Originally, the headland was nothing more than arid, rocky land grazed by goats and sheep.

Towards the end of the 19th century, thanks to the creation of a 20,400 m3 artificial lake, the headland was gradually transformed, giving way to lush vegetation.

The popularity among wealthy winter visitors led to significant changes in the area, with the construction of large estates and ornamental gardens.

On 29 January 1904, the hamlet of Saint-Jean became independent. It was initially named Saint-Jean-sur-Mer before being renamed Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1907.

Did you know?

Ferrat comes from the Latin « Ferrus, » meaning wild, uncultivated.



  • Law of 29 January 1904 making Saint-Jean a municipality
  • The port of Saint-Jean in the 1880s
  • The village of Saint-Jean in 1901
  • The lake, a popular strolling spot for the aristocracy
  • Pavillon du Lac, the first café-restaurant on the headland, where the famous Five O’clock Tea was served, a firm favourite, especially among the British!

Place du Centenaire : Césarine Dunan - Woman of the sea

Place du Centenaire


 Césarine Dunan – Woman of the sea

A summary of this wonderful local story.

Césarine Louise Larghi was born in Eze-Village on 8 July 1907.

On 18 June 1927, at the age of 20, she married Guillaume Dunan, known as Mémo, a local professional fisherman, in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Césarine Dunan was the mother of ten children.

On 7 April 1962, she began her official duties as a professional fisherwoman, as documented in her merchant navy embarkation book under the folio and registration number 30207 A.D.S.G. officially issued in Marseille and by the local administrator based in Villefranche.

Subject to a compulsory medical examination and the following endorsement: Authorised to navigate as a sailor aboard a coastal fishing vessel, provided that operations are conducted on a professional and active basis (Decree of 2.XII.1959).

At the time, Césarine Dunan was considered by the maritime authorities to be the only woman aboard a traditional fishing vessel.

To honour the fellowship of seafarers, who boast no less than a hundred maritime crew, the last remaining fishing quay in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s marina will be officially named after professional fisherwoman Césarine Dunan in June 2024.


  • Merchant Navy embarkation booklet
  • Césarine Dunan surrounded by her children

Place du Centenaire

Extended using roughly 40,000 m3 of rock extracted from the site that would later become Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in the early 1900s, the Place du Centenaire became a popular spot where people gathered to socialise.

The site hosted the Saint-Jean celebrations, with a marquee filling almost the entire area once erected.

Traditionally, during the Saint Jean’s celebrations, boys would declare their love for their sweetheart.

The marquee came alive to the music of the ball and the sumptuous banquet thrown for the occasion.

The site has also long been used for sporting events (football, basketball, boules, and even an Autotest).


Restaurant Midi Plage by Adolphe Mignon

In 1932, Adolphe Mignon, former chef to the famous writer Somerset Maugham, transformed a modest seaside hut into a must-see venue in the heart of the village called Midi Plage.

In 1936, a magnificent glass roof was added to enhance the space, making it more inviting. It served as the village hall until 1970.

The building will be lost when the new port is built.

Did you know?

Tents and caravans were often found lining the square, overlooking the sea.

This « wild » camping was not yet subject to the current regulations.

The construction of the new port in 1972

In 1972, the new Port de Plaisance was officially opened. It’s now home to 560 boats. There are many restaurants, shops, and galleries along the quayside.


  • The marquee erected for the Saint-Jean celebrations (in orange on the illustration)
  • Basketball match in Place du Centenaire
  • « Wild » camping on the Place du Centenaire
  • The Midi Plage glass roof visible in the background
  • Restaurant Midi Plage by Adolphe Mignon
  • The new port in its final phase of construction


Venturino family bus service, parked in Place du Centenaire

Jean Mermoz : The history of the port

Jean Mermoz (2)

The history of the port

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was founded and developed around the old port,

with its fishing industry being the backbone of the village.

The old port, now the Quai Lindbergh, was built by convicts from the Villefranche penal colony between 1840 and 1876.

During that time, the Villefranche area, which included Saint-Jean, was home to more than 270 professional fishermen. By the 1940s, the number had fallen to 110, with merely 40 based in Saint-Jean.

This industry requires a great deal of both financial and emotional investment. Fishing gear and nets are expensive, maintenance is never-ending, fish stocks can be low and the working environment often dangerous.

However, it remained a passionate profession passed down from generation to generation.

Fathers left the family home, the boat, and the nets to their sons.

The women would mend the nets and sell the fish at the market in Nice. There was no road along the lower cliff until 1862; before then, they travelled to Nice using the Villefranche passage.

Nicknamed the « Pescairis » (fishermen’s wives), it is said that they hid the fish under their wide skirts to avoid paying the octroi tax. However, the stench often thwarted their efforts.

Nowadays, only one professional fisherman is keeping the tradition alive, a trade so close to the hearts of the people of Saint-Jean.


Did you know?

The people of Saint-Jean were nicknamed « Lu Mangia Pei » (fish-eaters).

La Madraga – tuna fishing

From 1812 to 1860, almadraba fishing was a regular occurrence in Saint-Hospice Cove and a source of curiosity among the locals. Spectators often walked a long way to catch a glimpse of this « show ».

The almadraba nets are a massive 400m long and 40m wide, anchored

together. At the end of the net are three or four chambers formed by nets with finer mesh. The fabric is so tight that not even a finger can pass through it.

To ensure that everything ran smoothly, a watchman stayed aboard the boat to raise the alarm once the chambers were full. As soon as the bell rings on the shore, the sailors arrive to retrieve their catch.

According to written records, up to 1,000 tuna fish could be caught in a single day.

Along with anchovies and sardines, tuna was one of the most lucrative products of the

local fisheries.

 Did you know?

The small, tasty spiny lobsters found in abundance near the port were sought after by the finest chefs in Nice, who nicknamed them « Les demoiselles de Saint-Jean » (The maidens of Saint-Jean).



  • Pointus, traditional fishing boats
  • A fisherman’s wife at the entrance to the village
  • Drying fishing nets in the port of Saint-Jean – 1895
  • The port of Saint-Jean
  • Tuna fishing off Saint-Jean
  • A diagram of a fishing net


The old port, a place of inspiration


The old port has been and remains a source of inspiration for many artists.

Winston Churchill, whose statue was unveiled in June 2023, is undoubtedly the most famous guest to have immortalised the Quai Lindbergh. Although the Côte d’Azur greatly inspired him, he could not resist the charm of the peninsula, which he painted on several occasions during the 1920s.

The old port has also been a film set for several directors.

The old port, a place to relax

Celebrities and their families were often spotted in the old port.



  • January 1927 – Winston Churchill walking down the steps towards the port. Sitting on the wall: John Wodehouse, Commander of the British Empire, 3rd Earl of Kimberley­
  • Winston Churchill, in his white coat, painting the hotel-restaurant « La Voile d’Or » in the late 1920s.
  • Jean Gabin (left) and Curd Jürgens (right) during the filming of « Le Jardinier d’Argenteuil », released in 1966.
  • Shooting of the film « Au son des guitares » with Tino Rossi and Paul Azaïs (pictured here) released in 1936
  • French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in the old port in the 1960s
  • Keith Richards in the old port

Jean Mermoz : The Church of Saint Jean-Baptiste

Jean Mermoz

The Church of Saint Jean-Baptiste

The church of Saint Jean-Baptiste dates back to the 11th century. It is believed that caves were dug under the foundations, by the locals, to provide refuge and protection from enemies.

The building underwent considerable alterations around the 19th century, including the addition of the presbytery in 1846. From 1992 onwards, extensive renovations gradually transformed the church into its current state.

The inside of the church is adorned with paintings, sculptures and stained-glass windows depicting Saint John the Baptist, the town’s patron saint, easily recognisable by his symbol: the lamb.

It was with the words ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ (Latin, Ecce agnus dei) that John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the people.

On 24 June each year, the patron saint is celebrated on Saint John the Baptist’s Day. This is the pinnacle of the Saint-Jean celebrations, a village tradition that has lasted for decades.

Did you know?

The coat of arms depicts:

– the tower that was the historic home of Saint-Hospitius

– the banner, marked with the Maltese cross, which depicts the passage of the knights of the Order of Malta to the peninsula,

– the haloed lamb, symbolising that we are in the parish of Saint John the Baptist,

– the anchor, the seahorse, and the sea, symbolising the importance of fishing and the marine environment.

Saint-Hospice Fort


1388: The County of Nice became part of the Duchy of Savoy.

Around the 17th century – Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, commissioned the construction of the fort

“Castrum San Hospitio” on the peninsula of Saint- Hospitius. This military structure strengthens the defence of the County of Nice’s coastline, which is already protected by the Château de Nice, the Citadelle Saint-Elme in Villefranche and the Mont Alban fort.

1706 – Upon the orders of Louis XIV, the Duke of Berwick had the fort destroyed. The Villefranche and Mont Alban military works remain intact due to their strategic position.

1860 – The County of Nice is ceded to France.


Did you know?

The cannons in front of the church reflect the importance of the region’s military past.


Saint Jean-Baptiste Church

The port and the church of Saint Jean-Baptiste in 1910

A map of the Saint-Hospice fort

The Saint-Hospice fort was drawn using a quill pen


Villa Natacha

In 1946, Stratis Eleftheriadis, known as Tériade, an art critic and publisher of art literature, became the owner of the Villa Natacha, which he had already been renting for three years. This Frenchman of Greek origin founded Verve magazine in 1937 and worked with many artists including Bonnard, Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Chagall, Léger and Miró.

In 1951, Matisse asked Tériade to transform his dining room, to enlarge its spatial perception.

He designed a “Chinese Fish” stained glass window and a ceramic wall,

entitled « Le Platane ».

The dining room was complemented by other works such as “The Chandelier”, identical bowls by Giacometti and the “Winged Siren” plaster sculpture by Laurens.

These works were bequeathed to the Musée Matisse in Cateau-Cambrésis by Tériade’s widow in 2007, which saw the identical reconstruction of Villa Natacha’s dining room. The donation also included photographs, sculptures, and numerous paintings.

In the 2000s, the Villa Natacha was demolished. All that remains is the pediment inscribed with the villa’s name.



Did you know?

Henri Matisse’s son, Pierre, was a regular visitor to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat from the late 1940s. He owned Villa La Punta until his death. He is buried in the local cemetery


The reconstruction of the dining room in the Villa Natacha

Tériade and Henri Matisse in the garden of the Villa Natacha

Ceramic wall « Le Platane » – by Henri Matisse – 1952

« Chinese fish » stained glass window – by Henri Matisse – 1951



CHAPEL : The bronze statue of the Virgin



The bronze statue of the Virgin

The bronze statue of the Virgin next to the chapel serves as an ex-voto. During a storm off Saint-Hospice, Auguste Gal, a wealthy merchant from Nice, begged the heavens to spare his life. After his wish was granted, he commissioned the Italian sculptor Tranquillo Galbusieri to create this 11.40-metre-high statue.

Originally intended to be installed on the adjoining Genoese tower, that plan fell through as it would restrict visibility from the semaphore.

The three objects carried by the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus are:

– A sceptre: an ornamental staff, one of the symbols of power and sovereignty

– An orb – a globe with a cross upon it. In Western iconography, Christ carrying the orb in his hand is known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World)

– A scapular: a devotional object made up of two small pieces of blessed cloth bound together by cords (as held by the Infant Jesus)



Construction of the bronze Virgin by the sculptor Tranquillo Galbusieri

The plinth at the top of the tower, designed to house the Madonna, can be seen.

The bronze statue originally stood to the right of the tower, looking out to sea. It was moved to its present position in 1937



The outdoor exhibition

The legend of Saint-Hospitius

Hospice de Nice, Hospitius, in Latin, is also known as Santo Sospir (« a sacred sigh » owing to the sighs and exclamations of relief from approaching sailors). He was a Benedictine monk who lived a reclusive life in the tower (where today’s chapel now sits).

He wore iron chains over a cilice. He was believed to have clairvoyant and healing powers. This is how he predicted the arrival of the Lombards, allowing the monks to flee while he remained secluded in his tower.

The Lombards found him shackled in chains and believed he must be a truly heinous criminal to be so mistreated. One of them tried to kill him but his arm became paralysed, and he lost his sword, which fell to the ground.

Once cured after Hospitius made a holy sign over him, the Lombard was converted and spent the rest of his life devoted to God.

Hospitius died in 580. He is the protector of seafarers.

The Saint-Hospice chapel

Built on the ruins of the sanctuary of Hospitius the recluse in 1075, the chapel was originally a simple oratory. It’s a place of meditation, prayer, and pilgrimage. It can be traced back as far as the times of Saint-Pons.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the oratory was used as a church for the workers and then for the garrison of the fortress that had been built under the reign of Charles Emmanuel I.

In 1655, it was completely renovated by Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, who restored it to its current state. In the 18th century, it was extended to fit an altar.

In 1826, King Charles Felix ordered the construction of the portico in front of the chapel to accommodate more worshippers.

Inside, you can admire reproductions of paintings by the painter Louis Marchand des Raux (who also designed the landscaping for the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild after the war) depicting the life and miracles of Saint Hospitius.

Between 2020 and 2022, both the interior and exterior of the chapel underwent major renovations to restore it to its original state.

The Saint-Hospice Chapel has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1929.



A sculpture of the recluse and the Lombard in the chapel

« The Martyrdom of Saint Hospice » painting in the chapel

The chapel and the bronze Virgin as it presently stands

The chapel around 1900

Reproduction by Louis Marchand des Raux

Painting “The Announcement”- The bird warning Saint Hospitius of the arrival of the Lombards.


THE TOWER (Genoese)

Following the destruction of the Saint-Hospice fort in 1706, Charles Emmanuel III, Duke of Savoy, ordered the construction of a Genoese tower around 1750 to protect the coastline of the County of Nice.

It was listed as a Historic Monument in 1931.

Villa La Tour

Owned by Jacques Menier, heir to the chocolate empire of the same name in the 1930s, it was then bought by the German actor and director Curd Jürgens in the late 1950s. The land was extended by new owners who bought the plot where the tower now stands.

The Villa La Tour has welcomed a host of celebrities, including artist Salvador Dalí, Belgian racing driver Jacky Ickx, conductor Herbert Von Karajan, King Faisal Ben Abdelaziz of Saudi Arabia, film-makers Federico Fellini and Alberto Sordi, King Umberto II of Italy and many more.

The Belgian military cemetery

Villa Les Cèdres, once owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, was converted into a military hospital during the First World War.

His nephew Albert I, heir to the throne, used the villa to care for around 1,300 wounded or sick Belgian soldiers.

90 soldiers who fell victim to mustard gas are buried in the Belgian military cemetery.


Inside the tower

Curd Jürgens at Villa La Tour

Villa Les Cèdres Hospital operated from 23 January 1916 to 1 August 1919

Belgian military cemetery