Travel With Your Pet For La “Bone” Vie!
St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is often considered the jewel of the French Riviera. The French say it’s “ecrin de verdure,” a very protected and beautiful place. Du Cap-Ferrat is the point at which the Alpes-Maritimes plunge into the sea below. Hidden beneath the Corniche, on the waters of the Mediterranean, nestles St-Jean village. A six mile road follows the circumference of the Cap leading down to St-Jean with views of early twentieth century villas among statuesque cypress trees and colorful flowers. Filigree wrought iron lampposts punctuate the town center amid red tiled roofs. Hundreds of international flags blow over swaying palms and pine trees. Could this be paradise? Close to it!
Like a frame out of a Grace Kelly movie, St-Jean’s picture perfect postcard setting is reminiscent of the beauty of that bygone era. Even in months that are not considered “high season” the colors are vibrant. In spring and summer, pink Hobi Cats stand like soldiers on the water, with children learning to maneuver their topsy-turvy boats. Modern day yachtsmen drop anchor here for a relaxed dinner between the ports of Monaco twelve miles to the east and Nice, eight miles to the west. Unlike St. Tropez, this town is all about what Baudelaire called “luxe, calme et volupte” (luxury, peace, and pleasure). Most residents prefer to keep life relaxed.St-Jean is walking distance to the Belle Époque charm of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, a larger town than St-Jean, but with the quaintness of village life. Even more breathtaking is the tumbling drive down the rugged coast to the town of Villefranche whose origins date to 130 B.C. The cascading town built on the coastline offers old town shopping, a lively restaurant scene along the port, and spectacular views from the St. Leone Citadel. However, no matter where you visit, the ever present chien, or dog is afoot. The French love their dogs! France has the highest ratio of dog-owners of any country in the world, with one dog for every three people. Everyone in town knows each dog’s name, especially in the Alpes-Maritime region. Most restaurants and hotels are pet friendly. There is a rule in France that dictates an alphabet letter to the year. For example, if your dog is born in the B year, then his or her name must start with a “B” – Brigette! The English claim they discovered St-Jean, which would cause a fight with the Norwegian and Italian tourists who feel they make the summer months there thrive. Whatever the case, the town is quintessentially French. St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat feels like a Hermes scarf; once you own one, you cannot live without it. Like any French luxury product, St-Jean’s timeless beauty must be experienced to understand its worth.
St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Hotel Recommendations
The majority of hotels and restaurants allow dogs and pets. Your dog will be treated like French nobility at these hotels where the owners have pets too! la voile d’or: Translated “the golden sail,” and hovering majestically over the harbor, La Voile d’Or feels like your own private Florentine villa. No other restaurant in all of Cap-Ferrat has such views down to harbor and out to the Mediterranean. Since 1940, the Lorenzi family has preserved an atmosphere of comfort and personal attention befitting a luxurious private home. The second generation proprietor, Elizabeth Lorenzi, has created a relaxed atmosphere in a garden and sea estate setting where attention to details, hand-painted furniture, and fresh roses welcome you. Subtle differences make this hotel feel like a home. All rooms have floor to ceiling windows, with a little terrace and a table awaiting you with homemade jams and croissants. Note – the annual closing is approximately from mid October until April. Who Goes? Several generations of travelers repeat yearly. Think James Bond 007 crowd meets a Hugh Grant romantic comedy.
Beach Club: Non-residents of the hotel can buy a day or half day pool pass and watch the Italian, Swedish, French and English posture for the least tan lines. The Gucci-g-stringed set drop anchor here and lunch for an average of $120 per person including wine. Dogs are allowed in the beach club area. While topless is optional, your dog should don his best Missoni or Dolce & Gabbana.
Restaurant: Chef Denis Labonne is a master at creating fresh seasonal dinners. The rougets en filets son bouillon d’ artichauts is not to be missed. The dining room has romantic views of the hotel’s own harbor and the mountains of Monaco. Madonna called her dinner “Yummy!” Concierge Maxime Beau de Vouage will actually create a doggy dinner (or lunch) for your pet, full of vitamins for the weary dog trotter. Best-Kept Secret: Muriel’s shop above the beach club in the back of the hotel offers men’s and women’s beach fashions, everything made in France. Muriel herself will search out the latest fashion sandals for you and your doggy. Rules for Dogs: You and your dog are welcome if well behaved. The owners keep several small terriers.
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 01 13 13 Fax: (011) 33 04 93 76 11 17
Website: www.lavoiledor.fr Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat: This classic French hotel perched at the top of the peninsula has been a landmark since 1908. In a sumptuous setting with luxurious gardens, the small Grand Hotel with 44 rooms is more formal than La Voile d’Dor. Its clubby bar setting, as well as the Club Dauphin make this hotel a posh retreat. The hotel has one of the finest chefs in Côte d’Azur, Chef Jean Claude Guillon, who has been cooking here for over thirty years. The pool which hangs dramatically over the Mediterranean is famous. Who Goes? High profile celebrities who often hide in private suites, rich Americans and European royalty. Best Tip – the summer Friday fireworks and dinner is a must for a special night out. Price for a four-course meal with dancing is around $150. The Music Festival in March makes an elegant weekend getaway. Six new suites opened that added to the current nine.
Address: 71, boulevard General de Gaulle
Telephone: 04 93 76 50 50
Hotel l’Oursin: Best value and location. Bohemian France meets the center stage of St-Jean. Chantal Bourquin with son, Aubrey, run this quiet 14 room bed and breakfast in the heart of St-Jean. It is an amazing value with quaint rooms, some with views, decorated in provincial prints, 19th century antiques and local art. No traffic along the little street in front of the hotel give you peace and quiet. Prices range from $35 – $110. Who Goes? Once upon a time Elton John’s partner David Furnish, bodyguard to royalty. Up and coming artists all revel in the hospitality of the Bourquin family. Best-Kept Secret: Rooms 4 and 5 have expansive harbor views. Room 15 has marvelous 19th Century French bed. Rules for Dogs: None, just be on best behavior. Make friends with the owners’ dogs who’ll greet you in the lobby: Golden Retriever Loo Loo and Pug Rita.
Address: 1, ave. Denis Semeria, 06320 St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 04 65 Fax: (011) 04 93 76 12 55
La Civette: Town square cafe. It’s common to see the weekend crowd from England among the Italian yachtsmen, positioning themselves in the sun, sipping on perfect cappuccinos or cooling down with gelati. From mid June to mid August the café throws themed costume parties. Dog diva Donna and her sister Summer often attend Disco Night.
Le Provencal: A must for an enchanting dining experience, one of the top ten restaurants of all the Côte d’Azur. Chef Dominique Calcerano is serious about the food. A one-star Michelin original with roses and candelabras on the tables, this restaurant gets a star for romance also. Provencal allows small pets inside and larger ones out on the terrace above the harbor.
Best-Kept Secret: About $40 for the three course lunch. The restaurant also offers a unique five course dessert sampler. Instead of a cheese plate this restaurant suggests a cheese soufflé. Try the fig leaves roasted and made into a dessert. Entrees range from a John Dory to a Filet de Boeuf in a Rossini Sauce. The four course lobster sampler at $120.00 is a sumptuous value and unique adaption of lobster foods. Open all year round.
Address: 2, ave. Denis Semeria, Place Georges Clemenceau
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 03 97
Cadillac Restaurant and Piano Bar: Great for brick-oven pizza and California-style salads (a rarity in the South of France). Pastas are $12.00, cocktails are $8.00 – $11.00. Dogs are allowed in this large restaurant on weekends as well as karaoke and dancing. The owner, Monsieur Donato has a golden retriever named Indie who watches over the restaurant until 3 a.m.
Address: 1, Ave. Jean Mermoz
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 16 44
Le Skipper: The best restaurant along the waterfront and a good value with three course French dining at $25 and $35. Pets allowed indoors and out.
Address: Port de Plaisance de St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 01 00
Bar-restaurant du Port: Authentic South of France fresh fish dishes are the specialty here. Try the grilled Dorade or the best bouillabaisse. The elite from the hills and the locals go to Bar du Port for a quick morning espresso or a midday glass of wine. Three course lunches are $15; three course dinners are $26. Pets permitted indoors and out.
Address: Ave. Jean Mermoz
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 04 46
Beach clubs for lunch (“Plage” is French for beach):
Plage de Passable: Beach club with lunch featuring specialties like grilled fish and bouillabaisse. Boat and ski rentals are available. This beach club has sunset views, something few other beach clubs offer. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 06 17
Plage Paloma: Reserve for lunch at this popular spot located on Route de St. Hospice. After a day at the beach we recommend walking your dog to the top of the peninsula to the Chappelle St. Hospice. Here’s an excellent summertime secret tip at Paloma – request freshly squeezed orange or “pamplemousse” (grapefruit) juice, simply sublime! Dogs allowed on the beach and in the outdoor restaurant. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 01 64 71
Excursions with your dog
Cap-Ferrat has several walking paths including a one and a half mile path to the Belle Époque town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. This route along the Mediterranean is an easy flat surface where tourists and locals alike walk their dogs. Other picturesque walking tours for you and your pet could include the Monument Leopold, the Villa della Robbia, and the Villa Triannon. Be sure to request the brochure “Promenades au Cap-Ferrat,” available through the Consul General des Alpes Maritimes. An excellent contact is www.culture-espaces.com.
Zoo Parc du Cap-Ferrat: 300 different animals live in harmony. Open every day of the year; Summer 9:30 – 7 p.m., Winter 9:30 – 5 p.m. The Jungle Cafe is a fast food restaurant in the middle of the park. Dogs and pets are allowed. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 76 07 60 Website: www.zoocapferrat.com
Traveling around town with your dog is simple. St-Jean is a walking town stretching into charming neighborhoods. Many villa estates such as the Villa Rothschild are open to strollers with well-behaved pets.
Villa Rothschild and the Gardens of the Baroness Ephrussi de RothschilD: Constructed by the Baroness de Rothschild between 1905 – 1912, the villa has a 360 degree view of the sea and the Riviera. The villa exhibits historic works of art, and offers musical and orchestral programs in the spring and summer. Open every day all year round. Dogs are allowed on the grounds and at outdoor events.Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 01 33 09 Website: www.villa-ephrussi.com
Shopping: St-Jean offers some of the best of French living in a conveniently compact space. Next door to the Hotel l’Oursin, the shoe shop sells the largest range of J.P. Todd shoes in all of France. The exotic import shop, Jardin d’Orient, offers finds from Pakistan and India; a mix of clothing, jewelry, and home furnishings. Sole dad sells woman’s chic little fashions with a hip look but not too trendy with a great find in the Pan et Sucre line that is more upscale and with sexy twists. Decoration de Waroux in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the avenue Denis Semeria sells home furnishings and specialty items, including fine French and Belgian objets d’art and custom-made curtains from rare fabrics. Stanley, the owner’s pet Sheepdog, guards the shop. Parfumerie Augier, a perfumes shop with a small beauty salon downstairs for facials, makeup and waxing, also features high end costume jewelry and luxurious hair accessories. Your dog is allowed in for a pedicure! All the stores in town allow pets to enter. Many shop owners keep their own adored pets by their sides during business.
Seasonal tips and highlights for Cap-Ferrat
February – a delightful children’s parade and celebration for Carnivale (fat Tuesday) in Cap-Ferrat. Dogs dress up too! Mardi Gras is a major celebration throughout Nice. May invites flower shows in the town square. Mid August features the annual town celebration with spectacular fireworks. Avoid the last two weeks of November, which tend to be the rainiest part of the year. Several St-Jean stores and hotels are closed during this time.
Sidetrips: Recommendations for neighboring towns
Relais Chateaux La Reserve: This family owned hotel has refined luxurious rooms for the traveler who is looking for first class service, charm and elegance. It is the perfect blend of tradition and renewal. Enjoy the sumptuous heated pool or the modern and beautiful state-of-the-art spa for workouts and treatments. The hotel is also dog friendly. Most hotels charge non residents a “mat charge” at the pool, but La Reserve gives you complimentary pool access at no additional cost if you dine poolside with an excellent high end lunch. Dinner inside the hotel is for formal dining in one of the most romantic rooms in all of the South of France. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 01 00 01
Hotel La Perouse: A hotel built into the mountainside that hovers over the Mediterranean and is at the foot of Nice. This member of the World Hotels Group has Provencal designed rooms, suites offering magnificent sea views, a solarium, small gym and a rooftop pool surrounded by lemon trees. Bathrooms are fashioned of luxurious Boticino marble. The restaurant provides traditional casual lunches and dinners. Inside Tip: Go through the hotel up the several elevators to the outdoor dining space for lunch at poolside or sunset cocktail at the highest point over the Baie Des Anges on the Mediterranean. La Perouse has 58 air conditioned rooms and four varying suites. Most rooms have balconies with garden or spectacular sea views. Probably the best hotel for views of Nice while offering easy walking access to both the old town (finest shopping and antique market on Mondays) to the harbor restaurants. New Grand suite opens in 2004 with Provencal charm and garden views. Walk east to the port of Nice with surprisingly excellent cuisine (and good values) on rooftop restaurants. The hotel allows small dogs.
Address: 11, Quai Rauba-Capeu, 06300 Nice
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 62 34 63
Nice Restaurants – Casual Dining With Your Pet
Le Bistro du Port in Nice Harbor: The yellow awning beckons the locals but it’s the food of Orsini that brings them back. Owner and chef Josie Orsini’s father was known as “king of pizza” in Nice, and son Orsini demonstates his culinary excellence as “prince of bistro dining.” Try his original dishes like coquilles saint Jacques with sesame, white cream and truffle sauce, tuna in artichoke and citrus confit, veal in Madeira port sauce, or a gentle risotto with mushrooms. Hot and cold desserts range from le moelleux au chocolat to tiramisu with ricotta and chocolate. We recommend the prix fix four course dinner $35 daily for lunch or dinner indoors or outdoors in the 40 seat terrace overlooking the Port of Nice. Dogs are welcome. Chef Josie owns a black Labrador of noble bearing.
Address: 28, Quai de Lunel
Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 55 21 70
La Petit Maison: Ms. Nicole Ruby is the Harry Cipriani of Nice and owner of this classic Nice haunt with food that gets to the heart of French cuisine. Simple grills have never been better addressed. It may be tough to get reservations. This celebrity hangout is much more than a see-and-be-seen Mecca. The food is on target offering grilled meats and simple fish. Your pet can sit alongside. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 92 59 59
Aqua Bar: This new locale 20 floors high in the Hotel Aston in the center of Nice offers casual dining with club sandwiches, regional sausages and ham, ice creams and festive cocktails. One floor above the bar is the rooftop pool for guests. Pets are allowed in the bar, but in the guestrooms there is a $17 surcharge. Below you’ll see fountains, the Ferris wheel, and the municipal bell tower.
Address: 12, ave. Felix Faure
Telephone: (011) 33 04 92 17 53 00
Nice-Le Karr: Chef Philipe Sublet who trained at Tour d’Argent in Paris and La Gavroche in London, has created some inventive and unusual twists on bistro food such as a sublime red onion, smoked ham and parmesan starter or a simple duck with spiced pears. Thursday and Friday night jazz invite you, and your dog, to jam with the crowd. Mid-priced entrees $15 to $32. Telephone: (011) 33 04 93 82 18 31
Hotel de Paris: Don’t miss a night at the Hotel de Paris and Casino de Monte Carlo, an international landmark designed by Architect Charles Garnier in 1878. It continues to be the glamorous rendezvous with its marble floors, onyx pillars and sculptures. When the gaming stops, the partying goes on with galas and unforgettable shows in the cozy Cabaret. International stars perform in the Salle des Etoiles. Seasonal events for the famed Monte-Carlo Opera and Ballet Companies are housed in this building in the Salle Garnier. While many of Monaco’s restaurants are not dog-friendly, a walk with your pet in the Exotic Gardens, an amazing showcase of plants and vistas above Monaco, is reason enough to make the trip.
Address: Place du Casino, Monte Carlo
Telephone: (011) 377 92 16 30 00 Fax: (011) 377 92 16 38 50
In the Hotel de Paris, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Le Louis XV is a two Michelin star and a time-honored rendezvous of royalty, celebrities and politicians. Chef Ducasse’s diamond on the Riviera is a must for first-rate, romantic dining. How can someone make mushrooms so simple, yet so divine? Ducasse’s expertise in bringing out the flavor and freshness in seasonal items, earned him the “World’s Best Chef” title by the American Academy of Hospitality and Sciences. Telephone: (011) 377 92 16 68 14
For casual dining, try Le Grill on the rooftop, with its splendid bar, always a see-and-be-seen spot. Then march into the Thermes Marins Monte Carlo Spa for ultra luxurious state-of-the- art progressive medically supervised treatment. Imagine! Telephone: (011) 377 92 16 29 66
Hotel Hermitage: With its superb Belle Époque architecture, regal atmosphere and gastronomic creations, the Hermitage is a haven for cosmopolitan guests all year round. It has the classic charm of those places upon which time has not taken hold. An important embellishment and renovation program is being carried out at the Hotel Hermitage. 250 guest rooms and suites.
Address: Square Beaumarchais, Monte Carlo
Telephone: (011) 377 92 16 40 00