Guide to the Cote d'Azur, Cap Ferrat and Villefranche-sur-Mer

The Cote d'Azur is the area of south-east France that runs along the coast from Bandol, west of Toulon, to Menton and the Italian border in the east. Part of the coast is also known as the French Riviera. The Cote d'Azur therefore includes the southern edges of the Var and Riviera departments. The Mediterranean coast (Cote d'Azur / Riviera) of south-east France includes such renowned resorts as Nice, Antibes, Saint-Tropez and Cannes. Rich, exclusive, sophisticated.

The coastline here is very beautiful and the weather is more consistently sunny than any other part of France (corsica excepted). There are many small villages and towns along the coast and slightly inland where you will want to stop and explore.

Cap Ferrat is a peninsula into the Mediterranean just south of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Most of the peninsula is home to the very wealthy - although you will see little more clue to the existence of most of these villas as you explore than their entrance gates. Apart from walking along the (very beautiful) coast from St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, there are a couple of other reasons why you should visit. The first is the zoo and extensive parkland surrounding Les Cedres, the original villa to be built on the island (by King Leopold II)

The second is the Musee Ephrussi de Rothschild. Stunning even among the other villas in the area, the Villa of Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild (the 'Villa Ile de France') was built in the early part of the 20th century.

Both outside in the meticulously maintained gardens (separated into several parts, each with a different theme), and in the lavish interior of the villa, there are plenty of 'oooh' and 'aaah' moments as you come across yet more extraordinary items of art, furniture etc.

Villefranche-sur-Mer is in the Alpes-Maritimes department of the Cote d'Azur, close to the French border with Italy and 5 km from Nice.

The town is built on terraces up the hill that overlooks the azure blue sea and beautiful bay of the Mediterranean below. The town has been occupied since roman times, and there are some older buildings to be seen - you can't miss the 16th century citadel, the large walled building next to the water below the old town, that is now home to a clutch of museums.

The big attraction in Villefranche-sur-Mer - seaside, harbour and beach apart - is the attractive old town with beautiful ancient houses lining the steep cobbled streets that wind up through the town.

One interesting feature that reminds you that you are in an ancient town - the streets that run along the hill (rather than up and down) pass through arches under the houses, creating a great atmosphere - the best known is called Rue Obscura.

There are also a couple of churches of interest eg Chapel Saint Pierre, featuring decoration by Cocteau, in the Villefranche-sur-Mer old town, before you ascend to the Mont Alban Fort for great views out across the sea and along the coast.

Perhaps equally interesting are the villas and 'palaces' of the rich and famous tucked away in the hills around the town - the rest of us can only dream!