Château de Juan Les Pins: Royalty and Hollywood Star Valentino on Cap d’Antibes

You’ll instantly notice Château de Juan Les Pins as you walk along Cap d’Antibes, its bold whiteness splashed against the brilliant blue backdrop of the sky. It’s on the Juan-les-Pins side, overlooking Port Gallice and Port du Croûton; and while its size is imposing, its elegant architecture makes it one of the favourite villas on the Cap to photograph. There are other villas as famous, but none as easy to spot.

Known as (Rudolph) Valentino’s villa, it was actually never owned by the Italian actor, although he did holiday there and married the owner’s adopted step-daughter, Natacha Rambova, in 1922. (Scandalously he was still married at the time, and was arrested for bigamy. Valentino and Rambova legally remarried the following year… although it ended bitterly in 1925, according to ‘Lost Hollywood’.)

Château des Juan Les Pins, Cap d'Antibes in the South of France, where Italian actor Rudolph Valentino holidayed. Photo: Riviera Traveller
Château des Juan Les Pins, Cap d’Antibes in the South of France, where Italian actor Rudolph Valentino holidayed. Photo: Riviera Traveller

Valentino lit up the French Riviera

Rambova’s step-father, billionaire Richard Hudnut, had bought Château de Juan Les Pins in 1914. The American perfumer – who accumulated his wealth through cosmetics – was well known for entertaining, although nobody drew as much attention as his famous son-in-law, Valentino. Known internationally as the ‘Latin Lover’, Valentino turned heads wherever he went. He lit up the gossip columns… and almost quite literally the Château itself.

Nathalie Aguado, a historian and author of ‘Cap d’Antibes Villas and their Secrets’, discovered a newspaper article about a fiery incident in December 1923. Valentino had apparently suggested adding hundreds of small candles to the branches of an already well-endowed Christmas tree in the Château’s library. The tree unsurprisingly caught fire, but thanks to swift action from Valentino he managed to douse the flames with a hosepipe.

Another legend, as mentioned on the ‘I Love Cap d’Antibes’ blog is that some of the walls are five-feet thick, and that Valentino and his wife’s “bedroom was particularly luxurious with a black bed, black walls and black bathroom”.

History of Château de Juan-les-Pins

The 20-roomed Château (plus servants quarters!) was built over 120 years ago and originally named Château du Croûton and for a while Château Wollaston (after its then owner, a doctor from Cannes), before becoming Château de Juan-les-Pins.

Owners included the doctor, followed by Russian baron, Constantin de Silvansky, and his wife who enjoyed it as their winter retreat. There are reports online that ‘Queen Emilie of Saxony’ once owned the house, but these are untrue (not least of all because she lived a couple of centuries before the house was built!).

According to Aguado, the source of that rumour came from mistaken press reports in the early 20th century when the baroness, a former lady-in-waiting to the Queen Dowager Carola of Saxony, hosted her royal friend a few times at the Château.

Aguado reports that the Silvansky family lost the house due to debts which were allegedly accrued by the baron on gambling trips to the Monte Carlo Casino (Casino de Monte-Carlo) less than 50km away.

The Château is sometimes mistaken for that of Russian oligarch Roman Abromavich, but his – named Château de la Croë – is on the other side of Cap d’Antibes, next to the equally famous Villa Eilenroc.

Today Château de Juan-les-Pins has been split into several apartments.

Jenni Baxter
Jenni Baxter
Jenni is a co-founder and editor of Riviera Traveller. She has been based in Antibes for over 10 years, and has been visiting the Côte d’Azur since she was a student. As a celebrity journalist for international magazines, she has watched hundreds of movies at the Cannes Film Festival, interviewed stars at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc and watched the Monaco Grand Prix from all the key angles. Jenni has also lived in South Africa, London and Australia... and co-wrote The Expat Confessions. She is happiest paddle boarding on the Med with her 3 daughters, or sipping rooibos in the African bush. Contact

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