24-hour room service: Chateau de la Chevre D'Or, Cap Ferrat, France
Thursday 01 June 2000
Since the 1920s, when big-name movie producers first invited starlets to their villas overlooking the sea there, Cap Ferrat has been one of the most elegant throwbacks to
belle Ã©poque France. Amazingly, this coastal corner of France has survived the democratisation of the Cote d'Azur and to this day bougainvilla-wrapped mansions stand in glorious isolation in one of the most exclusive bits of real estate in the world.
Since the 1920s, when big-name movie producers first invited starlets to their villas overlooking the sea there, Cap Ferrat has been one of the most elegant throwbacks to belle Ã©poque France. Amazingly, this coastal corner of France has survived the democratisation of the Cote d'Azur and to this day bougainvilla-wrapped mansions stand in glorious isolation in one of the most exclusive bits of real estate in the world.
But there is one place that we humble oppidans can go to enjoy an aspect of Cap Ferrat that even the wealthiest plutocrat cannot match. Entwined in the walls of EzÃ©, a medieval village on a mountainside on its north side, is the ChÃ¢teau de la Chevre d'Or, a hotel hewn from old village houses and made over with decor from the finest Parisian interior couturiers.
The Chevre d'Or has a Michelin two-star restaurant (serving highly recommended tender lamb with truffles), two deep blue pools on the edge of the mountainside and an extremely commendable list of champagnes served by the glass, so you can try some Krug without selling all your clothes.
Location location location
ChÃ¢teau de la Chevre d'Or, 06360 EzÃ©, France (tel 00 33 4 92 10 66 66, website: www.chevredor.com)
Time to international airport
The ChÃ¢teau de la Chevre d'Or is 25 minutes by taxi or rental car from Nice airport (there is no public transport), following the signs to EzÃ© from Nice.
Are you lying comfortably?
The rooms are all in what used to be houses in the medieval village, so they vary in size and shape. Mine was small, with a charmingly angled floor, compact marble bathroom, and period furnishings by Parisian boutiques. The terrace was as large as the room.
But the real beauty about the Chevre d'Or is in the views. A porter took my baggage and car keys at the entrance of the village, and directed me to a private path circling its south side. A lush hanging garden of roses, lavender and jacaranda had been carved out of the hillside, dropping at its lowest green lawn into a precipice which ended in the sea, 1,000ft below. From the dining room, my table looked directly over the cape; beneath it were gardens black at dusk against an ultramarine sea. If you looked hard you could see the millionaires frolicking on their lawns. And, from my room's terrace, the coast swept away past Nice, the successive outcrops of land each marking a playground of the wealthy - Antibes, Cannes, St Tropez - until mountains and sea merged in the haze. Truly romantic.
The bottom line
Rooms start at Fr1,900 (£190) per night for a mountain view (and unlike some alleged "mountain view" rooms these really do have spectacular vistas of the Pre-Alpes), but for the real Cap Ferrat experience get a room with a sea view, starting at Fr2,600 (£260).
I'm not paying that
HÃ¿tel la Flore, in nearby Villefranche, has nice views and a pool; rooms are clean and cost from Fr780 (£78) per night (00 33 4 93 76 30 30).
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