Person of Interest: Pierre Grunberg, Swim Instructor

Pierre Grüneberg signed on as the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat’s swim instructor at the age of 19 and has taught there every summer since, helping everyone from Charlie Chaplin and his family to Ralph Lauren, Tina Turner, and Bono to take to the water. Now in his 66th season, the swim coach is known for his patented Grüneberg Method, which begins on dry land with a salad bowl full of water, and for his penchant for sombreros.


THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN CAP-FERRAT FOR THE SEASON: Say hello to the sea and swim as long and as far as I can.

ONE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CLIENTS: Robin Williams wanted to swim in the sea, but he worried with about sharks. There aren’t any, but I assured him by taking him on a swim

YOUR BEST TRICK TO OVERCOME FEAR OF WATER: If there were a trick, I’d be a magician- which I’m not. As with any phobia, it takes patience care, and understanding of where the fear comes from.

WHY A SALAD BOWL? It’s transparent, so students can clearly see how breathing works in the water. I can watch them try aquatic breathing control up close and immediately correct mistakes.

AND IF YOU WERE TO FILL IT WITH ACTUAL SALAD ... Salade Nicoise, bien sûr! It’s the best - go to any local restaurant and you’ll agree.

POOL DECK TIP. If you want peace and tranquillity, choose a sun lounger away from the restaurant.

ABOUT THE SOMBRERO. A client from Mexico, who thought I needed better sun protection, sent me my first as a gift. I have a collection now that I wer giving lessons..

AND IF A GUEST NEEDS A SUN HAT? Try the market n Beaulieu-sur-Mer- It’s beautiful walk from the village along Promenade Maurice Rouvier.

IT TOOK ME YEARS OF TRAVELLING TO REALIZE THIS, BUT YOU WON’T FIND...  A pool like the hotel’s anywhere else. When I first laid eyes on it, it seemed like a little piece of heaven. It feels the same every time I return.

FAVORITE MONTHS TO VISIT CAP-FERRAT: June or September.

Swim lessons with Pierre Grüneberg  from $115.