Villa HippoCampo

Nearby Towns

St. Jean Cap Ferrat

St. Jean Cap Ferrat boasts the most expensive real estate in the world.  It is a peninsula with numerous splendid villas which belong to a combination of political, regal, historic, and celebrated residences who have made sure that almost no one will get a glimpse into their properties! They have erected tall walls and rows of thick trees to prevent interlopers from disturbing them, so a stroll through the residential area is usually quite uninteresting. However, the town, is quite accessible and has the feel of a friendly and simple, but exclusive, coastal town.  There are cafes and restaurants that line the docks by the harbor which is one of the most beautiful in the world, especially with its backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs in the distance.

The Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild is perhaps the most visited place on St. Jean. Sometimes I pay the entrance fee just to be able to take my sketch pad or book and meander the grounds like I live there.

The Villa Ephrussi looks like a palace and is situated on 7 hectares of land.  The land is divided into nine themed gardens, all of which overlook the coast from Nice to Italy along the Mediterranean.  The Villa houses 5000 works of art and employs thirty gardeners to maintain its beauty.

While on St. Jean, don’t forget to check out the beautiful paved trails which circumnavigate the peninsula.  You can pick the trail up in numerous places and walk for just a bit or spend a few hours walking along the entire peninsula.  A favorite walk of mine is to walk along the Maurice Chevalier Trail from St. Jean Center to the town of Beaulieu.  I usually enjoy a wonderful meal in Beaulieu along one of the meandering streets or near the main plaza and then walk back to St. Jean on the same trail.  The view is remarkably different in each direction.


The village of Eze (”Eza”) dates back to the Middle Ages.  This tiny perched village is at the top of all tourist lists because it is such a little gem.  Eze offers panoramic views from Monaco to Nice, access onto small and winding cobble streets among beautifully architected centuries old buildings, narrow passages, small boutiques and art galleries and two magnificent hotels to stay in or to simply sit on their terraces sipping wine overlooking the Med.  Eze is almost like arriving on a movie set—it is picture perfect and breathtaking to experience all of its splendor—especially the hilltop arboretum with its 1000s of desert plants.

St. Paul de Vence

One of my favorite day trips is to the medieval perched village of St. Paul de Vence which is about a 45 minute drive from Villa Hippocampo.  St. Paul dates back to the 16th century and much of the architecture has been preserved. More recently, St. Paul was a mecca for artists like Picasso, Dufy, Chagall and Matisse who each lived there for several years. 

The main narrow street through the village-Rue Grande- is lined with galleries, art studios, restaurants and small unique boutiques.  At the end of the street is a cemetery with views toward the coast of the Mediterranean. While in St. Paul, try to have a meal at Colombe d’Or, a hotel and restaurant with excellent food and original paintings throughout the premises from famous painters like Matisse and Chagall. The Colombe d’Or has hosted many cinema stars including Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren, and Catherine Deneuve, and continues to do so during the annual Cannes Film Festival. 

The Foundation Maeght is a world-recognized museum just a few minutes away from the main village.  It is a private museum with modern and contemporary European art.  The setting is magnificent and the museum is both outdoors and indoors and will take only about an hour to enjoy.



I find Monaco to be quite artificial.  It feels like I am visiting a movie set, not a real town. Nonetheless, it is such an unusual place that one must visit it at least once!  There is something for everyone in Monaco. If you love luxury shopping, this is the place for you.  In the heart of Monte Carlo, there are avenues with store after store of the world’s most fashionable (and expensive) goods.  There is the iconic Casino which you can tour during the day or dress up and gamble during the evening.

A trip to Monaco would never be complete without walking along the harbor and witnessing the vast wealth of super yachts which line the piers. Google the names of the yachts and find out all the details—the owners, the cost, the rental fees, enticing histories and mysteries abound on these waters!

My favorite activity in Monaco is to climb up to the Prince’s Palace atop La Roque (the “Rock”).  The views are stunning, the paths through beautiful gardens are a joy to walk on and the Jacques Cousteau Aquarium is among the best in the world.

If you are a fan of cars and yachts or world class tennis, there are three events not to miss: The Gran Prix in May, the Yacht Show in September and the Monte Carlo Rolex Tennis Tournament in April.

La Turbie

La Turbie is the closest thing I’ve come upon as a traditional French Village where there are few tourists, everyone seems to know each other and most importantly—it has the best bakery, cheese store, fish store and butcher within miles of Nice and Monaco—all along one small main street. The locals stand in line daily to shop at these four markets. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t find myself in La Turbie at Ma Premiere Boulangerie—the best bakery in the world (according to me!)

Ma Premiere Boulangerie (bakery)

Le Coin du Fromager (cheese store and intimate restaurant)

Poissonnerie Posidonia (fish monger)

Boucherie Des Alpes (butcher)


Nice is the perfect City to have nearby.  It has just about everything you could want from a city—shopping, restaurants, museums, entertainment, great transportation, clubs and leisure activities.  It is a city, though, and comes with all of the challenges of urban life—traffic, difficult parking, crowds.  But there are a few gems that are worth going into town for:

Old Town Nice: The Old Town is conveniently located near the Promenade des Anglais (main wide pedestrian walkway which follows the Bay of Nice for 4.5 miles) and the Port of Nice.

Old Town is defined by a large square (“Cours Saleya”) lined with cafes and restaurants. In the middle of the square is a world famous daily fresh food and flower market, except for Mondays when the square turns into one of the largest and interesting antiques markets in the world. Numerous side alleys begin at the square and meander throughout the old town where there are dozens of small shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes, pizzerias, perfumeries, soap, spice and candy stores. There is something in Old Town for everyone and it is a very pleasant and novel environment in which to escape the “big” city of Nice.

Views of Nice and the Mediterranean Coast from Castle Hill.

Castle Hill: Between the Port of Nice and the Old Town, there is a very large promontory that can be accessed by stairs or elevator. A climb to the top will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Mediterranean coastline as well as an eagle eye view of all Nice. Castle Hill is in a beautiful parklike setting and has a cafe, a few classic cemeteries, a carousel and creative playground, beautiful waterfalls and quiet walking paths.