My favorite places in Côte d’Azur are Cap d’Antibes and Cap Ferrat.
Both settlements are wealthy, serene and very beautiful. If you ask me which is the best, I will say Cap d’Antibes. You can see beautiful beaches, villas among gardens, great restaurants and elegant people when you head west from the Antibes all the way to Cannes as you pass by Garoupe and Juan Les Pins. Villas are regular houses in this wide settlement. Mansion are located in secret corners virtually impossible to penetrate. Mansions are owned by the richest people in the world.
One of those mansions made global news in 2015 when it caused a rift between the king of Saudi Arabia and the locals. Maybe you will remember it. Chateau de l’Horizon, one of the mansions that overlooks the Juan Bay, was a place between 1934-40 where Sir Winston Churchill felt like he was in heaven. In 1948, Ali Khan bought it and spent happy years with sultry Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth. A friend of mine, when he was young, was caught by the bodyguards while watching her from atop the wall, swim in the pool and was beaten up badly. After Ali Khan, the mansion was handed over to the Saudis. According to the accounts of people living in the area, King of Saudi Arabia Salmane Ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud wanted to d renovations to the mansion in the summer of 2015. These changes included the rebuilding of the pool and elevators all the way to the sea. They told me that the pool was renovated a few times but the king still didn’t like the temperature of the pool. He wanted authorities to close down the beach in front of the mansion to the public when he was down there. This was the last straw. . The little beach called Mirandole was a place only people who lived in the vicinity were using anyway; few people even know about it. The disturbance of nature by an elevator and the ban of the public beach led to the mutiny of locals. 150.000 signatures were collected. French authorities who couldn’t stop Muammer El Kaddafi setting up a tent in the Middle of the Louvre couldn’t stay silent this time; the municipality banned the construction of the elevator and didn’t allow the ban of the beach for the public. This didn’t sit well with the king; he left the place in August and went to Morocco.
Another famous mansion in the area is Chateau de la Croe. The Duke of Windsor, who I have great respect for on the account that he declined to become king to be with his lover, preferred this place instead of cold England and came here in 1938 with his beloved Duchess. The mansion was then bought by another king, shipping magnet Onassis. I don’t like Onassis. While the act of the Duke of Windsor was noble, the socialite marriage of Onassis was ill-mannered. After President Kennedy was killed, he went on to marry his widow in act of publicity and flatulence. Seems public opinion was right because they divorced after an unhappy union. The mansion then went on to Stavros Niarchos, the colleague, competitor and relative of Onassis. The latest owner of Chateau De la Croe is Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. What I’ve been told from people I know living in the area that he did extensive renovations- albeit not as much as the King of Saudi Arabia and he enlarged his estate by purchasing neighboring villas.
After touring this place where richness and beauty seems to be intertwined, you might ask me what I would recommend in terms of food. And my advice is eat near the sea. Of those, Eden Roc’s Pavilion will transport you to the epic atmosphere of chateaus. If you think it’s too formal and expensive, try Cap Riviera.
Brasserie Cap Riviera, in terms of location, is one of the best restaurants in Juan Les Pins. The food and clientele is also good. As for prices, they are doable compared to all these characteristics. The sea is in front of the restaurant and the best sand in the region is here. You can see not just an empty sea but Lerin Islands in front of you. The menu is not very rich but all dishes have been prepared impeccably. If you want fish, it has to be the catch of the day. Maybe they come from the fish farm but at least they’re not frozen. They usually charge you by the kilo.
The night we were there they only had gilt headed bream, turbot and sea bass. If you want to order lobster or crayfish you will have to call ahead. We were very happy with the food, the wine, the scenery, the clientele and the bill. Rockfish soup with rouille sauce, warm lentil salad with pan-seared foie gras and gilt-head bream fillets in a sesame seed crust was worth mentioning.
Cap Riviera, like all other hotels and restaurants in the vicinity, is closed for a few months in the winter. Don’t forget to make a reservation in the summer.