There is much evidence of the decadent lives that have been lived on the French Riviera, but few trump the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. The pink villa set high upon the promontory commands spectacular views over the nine elaborate gardens (yes, nine) and the glittering Mediterranean on both sides. It is a stunning property, and one not to be missed.
Baronness Beatrice de Rothschild was an eccentric soul, judging by her south of France home. Built between 1905 and 1912, many of the rooms have been preserved with the same furnishings that were in place while she lived in the villa. Walls are highly decorated with fine artwork, lavish fabrics hang as curtains, and antique furniture fills the rooms; there is even a pair of ornate miniature armchairs for dogs.
|Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild bedroom, France|
Several rooms in the villa display the baronness’ collections of fine china and rare porcelain, and a video plays in an upstairs room telling the history of the house.
|Porcelain in the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France|
Through the arched balcony there is a magnificent view along the Cap Ferrat, over the main pond, gardens and the Mediterranean to both sides. It is easy to see that the layout of the villa and gardens was inspired by a voyage on the ship Ile de France, which is why the property is also known as the Villa Ile de France.
|view over the Mediterranean from Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France|
Nine gardens surround the villa. The largest is the garden a la francaise, which features manicured lawns and sculpted bushes. Beyond that is a long pond containing statues, water lilies and dancing fountains. The pond leads up to the temple of love, from where there is a great view back towards the villa.
|Grand staircase in the Florentine garden, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France|
On either side the garden drops down towards the sea, and the slopes feature the shaded courtyards of the Spanish garden, the grand staircase of the Florentine garden, the stone garden of statues, the Japanese garden, complete with pavilion and lanterns, the exotic cactus garden, rose garden, and the Provencal garden of native plants and Sevres porcelain. As you wander from one area to another it is remarkable to be in the same place, when the plants and landscape vary so much.
|Dancing fountains, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France|
On her death in 1934, Baroness de Rothschild donated the property to the state and nowadays it provides an interesting insight into her life at the property, as well as a beautiful place to relax for a few hours and enjoy the spectacular scenery.