The most beautiful French Riviera's villas

The splendour of the Côte d'Azur owes much to its sumptuous villas. These treasures of the French Riviera, often hidden by imposing walls, remain open to the sea all year round. The  Côte d'Azur lifestyle is also about knowing where and how to admire these remarkable buildings surrounded by lush gardens. SeaZen presents its top 3 with their stories and celebrities. These villas also contribute to the charm of solar boat trips.

In Antibes

1. Chateau Croe Antibes property of Abramovich

Let's start by discovering the Château de la Croë in Antibes.


View of the Chateau Croe Antibes owned by Roman Abramovich

Where are the most beautiful villas in Antibes?

The town of Antibes, especially its cape, is a pleasant place to visit. The cap of Antibes is home to several majestic villas hidden in a forest of umbrella pines and some of them can be seen from the sea. The splendour of the villas can be seen simply by walking along the Cap d'Antibes. The length of the fencing walls bristling with surveillance cameras mean a lot about the villas. The promenade is still sublime with the Baie des Anges and the Alps in the background.

What's the history of this castle?

Have you ever seen the movie "Gatsby the Magnificent"? This work perfectly reflects the spirit of the wealthy bourgeoisie during the Roaring Twenties. The story takes place in a very upscale residential area where important personalities meet to party in a beautiful home. Surprisingly, the history of La Croë Castle is very similar. In 1938, the Roaring Twenties did not seem to be over for the Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson. Extraordinary receptions are held in this castle. For many years, the Duke's Villa is known as the most select place in the region. For many years, the duke's villa is known to be the most select place in the region. Became King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, Edward VIII must abdicate in front of the outcry aroused by his proposed marriage with Wallis. This love story inspired many filmmakers, including W.E. Wallis & Edouard, co-written and directed by Madonna.

Who owns it?

Built in 1927 in a Victorian style, for the English aristocrat Sir William Pomeroy Burton, this building looks exactly like the White House.

Left to be abandoned for thirty years, nothing remained of the castle but a burnt ruin and a wasteland. Under the impulse of a famous Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, in love with the French Riviera, the castle was completely renovated from 2008 to 2010. The cost of the work would have exceeded 100 million Euros.

A swimming pool could be installed on the roof. This is a technical feat. As the building is listed, the architecture of the building had to be preserved. More recently, a new ecological swimming pool was installed as an extension to a waterfall. This ecological pool is easily recognisable by the colour of the water, as it is not the usual artificial blue of the pools on the Côte d'Azur. This detail is important to us because we are sensitive to ecotourism.

Observing the villas from the sea, one can sometimes 'stumble upon' the yachts of billionaires?

The parks of these villas are open to the sea, but they are protected from view by walls that are impassable from the land. SeaZen is at the forefront of approaching the villas. As the catamaran glides silently along the coastline, it is not uncommon to come across the owners' yachts. This is the case with the Eclipse and other equally famous luxury yachts.

The eclipse of the same owner as Chateau la Croë, is one of the largest yachts in the world
The eclipse of the same owner as Chateau la Croë, is one of the largest yachts in the world

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In Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

2. The Fleur du Cap villa known as David Niven at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

What is the prestigious history of this villa?

The Fleur du Cap is one of the emblematic villas of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Originally named Villa Socoglio by its owner, after its construction in 1880 it has known illustrious occupants.

First of all, the Duchess of Marlborough, the cousin-in-law of Wiston Churchild, who will become a regular at Hotel Royal Riviera. Then Leopold III, king of the Belgians, successor and nephew of Leopold II, who also had many residences in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. It is said that Charlie Chaplin also stayed there for a week, as well as at the nearby Royal Riviera. It will then be occupied by David Niven, the famous actor of Pink Panther which earned him the nickname of Villa David Niven for many residents of Nice. Grace Kelly, a friend of David Niven, will have dined at numerous occasions with the Prince of Monaco.

Fleur du Cap villa of David Niven Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat seen from the sea
Fleur du Cap villa of David Niven Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat seen from the sea

A modern fairytale

But few people know the fairy-tale story of her current owner Ana Tzarev. It all starts in a small town in the former dictatorship of Marshal Tito. A young Yugoslav get married with, Robert Chandler, an inspired businessman from new Zealand. The entrepreneurial couple managed to develop a chain of 10 retail stores. The story goes that at that time Madame Tzarev kept a picture of David Niven's Villa in the family bathroom. She was commenting on this picture to her children telling them it was the house of her dreams. After reselling their store chain, the couple moved to Monaco. Of his 3 children, 2 will become very wealthy financiers. They decided to offer their mother the villa she had always dreamed of.

To learn more about Ana Tzarev's artistic work, here's an AFP repport on Youtube shot in her villa La Fleur du Cap in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. You can also discover the work of the artist on her Art Gallery.

How to estimate the price of David Niven's villa?

According to the inhabitants, when Hjördis Genberg, David Niven's widow, put the Villa up for sale, its price was estimated at around £10 million, we were in the 1990s. According to the government open source site Etalab, a villa of similar size, in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, directly overlooking the sea, sold 27 million euros in 2015. La Fleur de Cap certainly benefits from a significant added value compared to this average price, given its prestigious history and its private port.

We leave it up to you to estimate the actual current price... Your estimate will remain very affordable, compared to the villa of Paul Allen located a few meters away! But that's another story!

Why the Fleur du Cap is one of the emblematic villa of the Côte d'Azur?

Just sail off the villa to understand how this place is one of the most beautiful of the Côte d'Azur. Located at the end of a small cape it benefits from a private harbor. It is surrounded by cristal clear waters and its park is embellished with a pergola. At the end of the garden is the formidable cape of 'Rompe Talon'. A famous rock in case of storm because the few waves in the area break. This is a spot that surfer particularly likes.

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In Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

3. Ephrussi of Rothschild

SeaZen loves to cruise along the French Riviera in a solar boat and we love to share our passions. The guided tour that we propose now takes you a little further to another famous house on the French Riviera, Villa Ephrussi of Rothschild.


Glimpse of the Rothschild's Ephrussi Villa at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Why did it all start on the French Riviera?

The Côte d'Azur has many treasures. Pleasant climate by the sea and unique panorama in the world are very appreciated qualities. An idyllic living environment in which many influential and rich people want to settle. This was the wish of Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild. Let's imagine the context of the times. In 1860, the County of Nice was a steep region, poorly served by transport. The arrival of the railway changed everything. Great fortunes and crowned heads from all over the world can easily spend their winters there. At that time there were no private planes but private trains. The Rothschild family owned the Chemin de Fer du Nord. The neighbouring King of the Belgians used to park his private train on a specially prepared track in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

The richest heiress in France

Beatrice inherited the vast fortune of the Rothschild family in 1905, following the death of her father. His father was said to be the wealthiest man in France. It is also that year that she discovers one of the jewels of the Côte d'Azur, the peninsula of Cap Ferrat. The baroness falls in love with this place and decides to buy a piece of land to build the villa and the garden of her dreams.

The history of the pink villa

Many projects of renowned architects and landscape designers have been rejected before one of them is finally validated, and gives the form that can still be admired today. Although the war caused a lot of damage, the building is still standing after more than a century. The house of the baroness has been restored respecting the original project, to a detail. During the renovation, the color of the originally ocher-yellow facade changed to red-pink, characteristic of Venetian villas. A marvel that you should not miss while sailing aboard your solar rented boat.

Celebrities and great fortunes continue to finance the villa

This villa is a museum without being classified National Museum. This allows it to propose to private individuals or companies to privatize it. This is how the James Bond, Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery was shot in this villa. More discreetly, many wealthy families rent it for weddings.

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How to discover these villas peacefully from the sea?

If your budget does not allow you to rent one of these villas, you can probably book a solar boat. Whether renting a boat without a licence or on a tour, this peaceful and elegant experience is in perfect harmony with the charm of the Côte d'Azur. And there are many more villas to discover, including the iconic Greek villa Kerylos or the James Bond villas.

SeaZen is ambassador of the Côte d'Azur France brand.

As ambassador of the Côte d'Azur France brand, seaZen is committed to a responsible approach