We had been on a roll, taking Berkeley East back to favored places in Italy and finding the same wonderful locales. So it was a shock when we arrived in the Bay of Villefranche and discovered that our beloved French anchorage was no longer the utopia we once knew.
The Bay of Villefranche has long been considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world, with the Cap of Nice to the right, Cap Ferrat on the left, and the enchanting old town of Villefranche tumbling down the hill to the sea. It is still stunning when viewed from land, but from the water level, the bay has sadly lost its luster.
We don't know why the bay has become so overrun with yachts, tripper boats and cruise ships. Maybe this was just a popular time of year, or perhaps there has been more promotion for tourism. It could also, more likely, be that current world issues have eliminated many cruising grounds forcing more boats, and cruise ships, into fewer venues.
If not for impending weather, we would have turned Berkeley East around and found a more appealing space. Instead, we suffered through the arrival and departure of massive cruise ships, the constant wakes and loud speakers of tour boats, drunken British boys on a charter boat dragging into BE, bad dancers on party catamarans (luckily the music they were dancing to was good), too many boats anchoring far too close, all topped off with a storm.
When the weather cleared, we happily moved Berkeley East around the point to St-Jean-Cap Ferrat. Located on a peninsula next to Villefranche, Cap Ferrat was originally home to just a handful of cottages clustered around the harbor. It became a leading holiday resort around the end of the 19th century and is still a preferred destination among European aristocracy and international millionaires.
Today, Cap Ferrat has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and many famous residents including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and theatrical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
We were fortunate that the wind and seas calmed for a few days so we could enjoy the peaceful, scenic anchorage at Cap Ferrat, and explore the peninsula on foot. In the end, we actually preferred Cap Ferrat to even "our old" Villefranche. If we had to live in France, we could certainly live in the paradise known as Cap Ferrat.