In search of Lo Scoglietto 2023

Fleur de Cap, Cap Ferrat, 2023
View from the coastal path, looking towards “Fleur de Cap” (Lo Scoglietto). Cap Ferrat, January 2023.

During a short city break to Nice in January 2023, I persuaded my family to join me for an adventure to find the Nivens’ house at ‘Lo Scoglietto’. (It’s now called ‘Fleur de Cap’, but I’ll use its old name on this page).

We hopped off the bus in the small town of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, on the north-east side of the Cap Ferrat peninsula. (I’d always imagined ‘Lo Scoglietto’ to be on the southernmost tip for some reason).

I doubt the house would have been difficult to find, but we still asked directions from a group sat outside a cafe, one of whom happened to be the local mayor (!) They pored over an old photo (see below), eventually recognised the location, and explained that “It has changed a lot.” A short stroll northwards was suggested.

[Karma would be them finding me relaxing in my home town on a Saturday morning, showing me a 60 year-old aerial photo on a mobile phone, and hoping for instant recognition.]

Aerial view of La Scoglietto, 1964
Lo Scoglietto, 1964. The coastal path to the left still leads from St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, winds inland around the back of the house, and then continues beyond what is now ‘Place David Niven’ (where the cars are parked), to Beaulieu-sur-Mer .

The main differences in 2023 are not so much the building and its rotunda, more the surroundings. What looks like a wide field covered in tracks (to the right of the house) is now a road with a line of houses. That’s now the inland route to ‘Place David Niven’.

The path to the Cap

We decided that the coastal route would be the most scenic. Stepping off the main road through St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, there is a beautiful (and very new-looking) marina, leading to a small beach that I’ve never seen mentioned by either Niven, and a coastal path.

The beach at St Jean de Cap Ferrat, looking northwards towards the path to Lo Scoglietto. The beach looks pleasant enough, especially considering this was in January. We had an outdoor lunch an hour after the walk, but needed jackets and scarves.
Following the path. The white protrusion, from the sea wall in the middle distance, is a viewing platform that marks the start of the Nivens’ old territory. The rotunda is just visible. In front of it is probably Hjordis’ “beach house”. The line of rocks leading into the Mediterranean is where Charlie Chaplin and his family were pictured during a holiday in 1957:
Embed from Getty Images
The “clear green water” of the Mediterranean near ‘Lo Scoglietto’. The photo looks colour-enhanced, but really isn’t. In fact the photo does it no justice.
Further along the approach to ‘Lo Scoglietto’.
The path turns inland at the white viewing platform, running alongside the garden walls of ‘Lo Scoglietto’ towards the front of the house itself. The ancient olive trees described in 1977 are something to behold: “The Niven principality has 2000 year old olive trees once recorded in a Roman assessment of local wealth.” The walls are actually built around  them.
Arrival at ‘Place David Niven’, looking back towards the ‘olive tree path’ and Lo Scoglietto’s front door. The house looks as exotic as ever, painted pink to avoid discolouration from Sahara winds.
A look at (but not over) the garden gate, with mountains visible across the bay.
A last glance back at house, with its private harbour. Viewed from the path as it continues towards the beach at Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: