A story, in the name of architecture and lifestyle, of one of the enchanting places on the French Riviera

There is a place located in one of the regions most visited by summer holidaymakers who stays away, hidden, almost protected by its morphology, which it considers almost a divine gift. An enchantment called Cap Ferrat.

A legendary peninsula, located between Monte Carlo and Nice, in the heart of the Côte Azur, which this year celebrates 120 years of existence.

This strip of land is a mass of luxurious villas surrounded by mountains and a cobalt blue sea, often crossed by the yachts of billionaires who love to spend the summer admiring the coast from their boats.

Here, however, nothing is ostentatious, everything is discreet. The very expensive homes, whose prices can even reach 200 million dollars, are camouflaged among agaves, maritime pines, prickly pears and brooms while the silhouettes of the mega boats they stand respectfully at a safe distance.

There are no blatantly luxurious restaurants, no nightclubs and the very luxurious Grand Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, one of the most iconic hotels on planet earth, lives apart at 71 boulevard du Général de Gaulle, a few steps from the large lighthouse.

In 2009 the hotel (three Michelin keys) was renovated with the addition of a new wing which houses rooms and suites with terrace and private swimming pool, all designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon.

Luxury within luxury is Villa Rose-Pierre, a sumptuous 550 m2 outdoor residence hidden among fragrant gardens rich in the most beautiful varieties of flowers in the world.

Before the 19th century this delightful tourist location adored by the Knights of Malta, the writer Nietzche and film stars such as David Niven (who here boughtLa Fleur du Cap, previously owned by Charlie Chaplin), Gregory Peck, and Liz Taylor, was nothing more than an arid and rocky land, and was home to only a few fishermen's and farmers' houses clustered around the church and the port within Saint-Jean, a hamlet that was part of the municipality of Villefranche-sur -Wed.

Since the end of the 19th century, the entire area has gradually established itself as a favorite holiday destination for French aristocrats. Rich families from Nice even came to these parts in horse-drawn carriages.

While at the beginning of the 20th century the peninsula was discovered by the English who invaded it during the winter months. Saint Jean separated from Villefranche only in 1904, thus beginning a glorious journey that reaches the present day.

Today the tourist port of Cap Ferrat, the country's economic showcase, is 92,000 m2 large and has almost 600 berths. A constant tingling, especially in summer, which however does not affect the placid tranquility of the former fishing village in the slightest.

In the discreet silence of the pittosporums and jasmines, however, history was made here. If not exactly the one you study at school, then that of costume and the jet set.

Each villa here is the pearl of a necklace. Like the Mauresque, for years the residence of the English writer Somerset Maugham. It was he himself who asked Henri Delmotte, Marcel Guilgot and the young American architect Barry Dierks to eliminate the Moorish elements of the original structure to introduce other more modern ones.

After his death the house was purchased first by the socialite Lynn Wyatt, and subsequently by David Brown and Robert Shelter-Jones for 50 million.

Today this jewel, which over the years has hosted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill, became part of the real estate of the Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash.

Even more exciting is perhaps the story of Villa Santo Sospir, a residence famous throughout the world with the name of "tattooed villa" for the frescoes created inside by the great genius of Jean Cocteau who spent ten years of his spectacular existence here.

A short circuit of art and architecture, expressly desired by the owner, the French Francine Weisweiller, one of Yves Saint Laurent's first patrons.

Cocteau transformed this place into an artistic oasis, drawing on every square centimeter of surface, sometimes passing the brush over the furniture, with paintings and mosaics inspired by the themes of Greek mythology.

Currently the villa, which welcomed Pablo Picasso and Marlene Dietrich among others, has been closed for some time due to an interminable renovation work. The reopening is still shrouded in mystery.

In the long list of pearls, there is also Villa Maryland, one of the most expensive estates in the area. Built in 1904 a few steps from Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, it boasts 18 rooms. Built by the renowned designers and architects of the time,Pethaux & Messiah and Harold Peto, was purchased years ago by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, while last year it was sold to IsraelEnglander, co-founder in 1989 and manager of the hedge fund Millennium Management.

Cap Ferrat, however, does not only contain mansions from the Arabian Nights but also secrets, tragic stories, fairy tales and lots of gossip.

“Every glimpse of land, every road tells a story, every sunset is visual poetry,” said Jean Paul Sartre. And in fact in this lush Mediterranean peninsula, right in Santo Sospir, the passion between Romy Schneider and Alain Delon broke out. Again here, in the villa "La Serena", Edith Piaf spent one of her last nights, before moving to Grasse where she died in 1963. And once again here, forty-seven summers ago, Gianni Agnellinaturist version was photographed by Daniel Angeli's lens while diving from his sumptuous yacht.

Jackie Kennedy had defined Cap Ferrat as "a sanctuary of the soul". A terrestrial projection of Paradiso which to celebrate its 120 years has set up a calendar of events involving art, cinema and music.

June, for example, will be dedicated to heritage and traditions, while summer will be a succession of spectacular and at the same time sober parties and events as is appropriate in these parts.

Among the musts is the Les Classiques de Juillet festival which will welcome big names from the classical scene such as Kotaro Fukuma or Cyrielle NDJIKI, and the Trio Metral and the Saint Jazz Cap Ferrat, an institution which takes place in the Jardin de la Paix, with stars like Omar Sosa, Tony Green and JJ Milteau.

“On this peninsula the sea and the light dance together in perfect harmony. - Picasso told his colleagues from overseas who found themselves here in the summer and never wanted to leave again - It's a place where art creates itself". Impossible to blame him.