The history of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The hamlet of Saint-Jean was, until the end of the 19th century, a fishing and farming village forming part of the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. At this time, the Compagnie Générale des Eaux created a 20,000 m3 artificial lake here, fed by the Vésubie river: the plant life diversified and densified, making the area much less arid and rocky. The Cap-Ferrat became a favourite place for an outing among the people of Nice region and the holiday resorts developing there.
In 1860, the County of Nice became part of France and in 1904 Saint-Jean separated from Villefranche to become a commune in its own right. If was first named Saint-Jean-sur-Mer, and then Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1907.
From that time, the village would host rich foreign families (English, Russian, Belgian, etc.), especially in the winter, attracted by its mild climate and who would build great estates here. The luxury hotels began to flourish. Around 1950, the resort became a spa town and was also visited in the summer, particularly by international celebrities.
There were also many artists who stayed in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: Matisse, Chagall, Picasso. However, it is Jean Cocteau who is most associated with the town. His frescoes decorated not only the walls of the Villa Santo Sospir, where he would visit regularly, but also the marriage chamber in the Town Hall.
Charlotte Salomon, a German Jewish painter was a guest at the Belle Aurore hotel (now the La Villa Cap Ferrat Hotel and Spa) for two years, before being deported to Auschwitz at the age of 26, where she died; her life inspired the novel “Charlotte” by David Foenkinos.