Step back into the glamour of the Belle Epoque Riviera with a visit to the beautiful Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and surrounding gardens – the jewel of the Côte d’Azur.
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and some fountains, © Max Pixel
The History of the villa and its creator
Béatrice de Rothschild, daughter of the famous banker and art collector Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, was born in 1864. She was intelligent and charming, and enjoyed living in some of the most opulent homes from that time in Paris and around Paris. She married Maurice Ephrussi in 1883, but divorced him in 1904, in part due to his huge gambling debts.
Béatrice de Rothschild Ephrussi, Source Père La Chaise
The divorce allowed her to concentrate on her passion of collecting art. The family motto was “Ars Patriae Decus,” meaning “Art is the honor of the fatherland.” After her father’s death in 1905, she inherited his huge fortune, and decided to build her dream home in the Riviera.
Work started immediately to create a garden – not an easy task given that the land was on a rock and exposed to strong winds. After rejecting projects from various esteemed architects, Béatrice chose Jacques-Marcel Auburtin. The villa was built from 1907 to 1912, and became the Baroness’ winter residence in 1912.
The house became the backdrop for the impressive art collection that included paintings, furniture, and porcelain from various eras, resulting in an eclectic decoration.
Béatrice died in 1934 of tuberculosis, a year after she had given the villa, gardens, and the art collection to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. During World War II, the villa and the gardens were abandoned. But the gardener, Louis Marchand, returned after the war, he restored the gardens to their original beauty, and choose a new color for the villa which he changed from the original ochre yellow to pink.
Reminiscent of an Italian palazzo, the villa still showcases Béatrice’s impressive art collection. From the state apartments where she received her guests, to her personal bedroom and boudoir, her exquisite taste is apparent.
Part of the State Apartments inside the Villa Ephrussi, © Pikist
The gardens are made up of nine different gardens: the classic French garden, the exotic garden (originally called the Mexican garden), the Japanese garden, just to name a few. Music accompanies the various fountains' waterworks.
The gardens at the Villa Ephrussi, © freeimg
Take the time to wander around and enjoy the amazing viewpoints of the peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
For a virtual visit, see Irresistilbe Riviera's 360° visit here.
Make the most of your visit to the villa ephrussi
- Make sure to download the free application before your visit. It includes a 1-1/2 hour guided visit of the villa, a visit of the gardens and a glossary of some of the emblematic plants in the gardens. An audio guide is also available. If you do not want to visit the entire house, you may skip around within these two guides as well. However, do not miss the outside terrace on the second floor, with the view on the gardens.
- If you want to have a drink, you should definitely go to the tearoom, where prices are reasonable (for the Riviera) and the view is amazing!
- We recommend spending the evening in nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer, a colorful port that will give you a taste of the Mediterranean way of life. Enjoy dinner in the small streets around the port for a better quality-price meal, then enjoy the port view for just a drink or stroll.
The pretty town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, ©Pikist
- Laura Crotet, France Just For You
If you would like to walk in the steps of Béatrice as part of your French vacation, contact us to help you plan your trip.