Jean Cocteauís poetic oasis Villa Santo Sospir
The Mediterranean’s balmy blue skies and St Jean Cap-Ferrat’s luxurious setting could very well be the definition of paradise on earth. Michelin-starred Executive Chef Yoric Tièche at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel elevates the experience with a decadent four-course dinner and cocktails enjoyed from the terrace of the legendary Villa Santo Sospir, a work of art by Jean Cocteau, adorned with mosaics, murals & frescoes and frequented by the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso.
This artistic evening accommodates six and requires a booking 20 days in advance. A personal tour of the villa and its art by socialite Francine Weisweiller’s former caretaker reveals stories of lively parties, inspirations that lead to the creation of the tattoos on the walls in charcoal and colour that make this villa exceptional.
During the 1949 filming of Jean Cocteau’s Enfants Terrible, based on his famous novel, the young filmmaker, Jean Pierre Melville met Francine Weisweiller and developed a friendship at first sight. The following year, Francine invited Cocteau to spend a holiday in this house in St Jean Cap-Ferrat, starring stunning views of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The empty walls of Villa Santo Sospir called to the poet and he began to adorn the home by painting the head of Apollo over the fireplace. This lead to the master painting frescos throughout the storied property, with the hope his painted tattoos might afford some kind of protection to the villa to ward off the destruction of the war he’d recently witnessed.
Inspired by Greek mythology and the beauty of coastal France, Cocteau would spend a summer painting on ladders while various assistants helped him mix the proper colours of paint. Over the years Cocteau enjoyed the villa and found himself sipping his favourite aperitif, the bitter La Suze, at sunset. santosospir.com & fourseasons.com/capferrat ◼
© This article was first published in Aug-Sept 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.