It’s with good reason that the Villa Santo Sospir sits on avenue Jean Cocteau. The artist was invited by the villa’s owner, wealthy socialite Francine Weisweiller, to make a drawing in the living room. But Cocteau got carried away. And painted the whole villa with the most madcap frescoes known to man.
Greek Gods and mythical creatures cover entire walls. Roman centurions with bulging biceps are daubed above the herringbone parquet. A mosaic of Cocteau’s signature beady eye motif sits in the sub-tropical gardens by the sea. As Cocteau said: “Walls should not be covered; their skin should be drawn on. Santo Sospir is a tattooed villa.”
Amazingly, this Cap Ferrat property and its art collection have recently been opened to the public. As real estate prices hover around €42,000pm2 (the most expensive on earth) it’s a treat to visit any Cap Ferrat villa, let alone this one. Respectful guests are shown around by the property’s long-time caretaker Eric. To retain the villa’s sanctity no large groups are allowed.
Eric is a charming host. He also has dozens of wacky stories from when Cocteau’s friends came to stay. Picasso would sail across from the Welcome Hotel in Villefranche in his little boat. Marlene Dietrich would ignore Francine and only speak to Cocteau. And Greta Garbot would party hard then slope back to her villa on Cap d’Ail.
To visit such an exclusive address you need to give Eric enough notice. Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +33 (0)4 93 76 00 16. Regular tours cost just €12pp. For Cocteau fanatics he can even organise a lunch or dinner in the garden.
Can’t visit? Then watch the video instead. In 1952 Cocteau made a movie inside the villa and along the Cap Ferrat coastal trail. The artist placed now priceless works of art just above the waves and filmed them. Spoiler alert, the movie pretty far out!
Now, I’m looking to invite a famous artist to paint my Nice apartment, which will no doubt boost the resale value. Any takers?