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Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild - Italian Renaissance on the French Riviera

FORTLOC Staff 03/09/2024
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Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

While you can't visit Villa Les Cèdres since it's private property, many agree that Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is the most outstanding villa on the peninsula. Its current function as a museum and event destination means all visitors can enjoy the best of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

History

In 1905, Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild purchased a plot of land in Cap Ferrat with the intention of taking up residence there. Designed by Aaron Messiah, the villa was completed in 1912.

Beatrice, a member of the Rothschild banking family, was an avid art collector, following the family motto, "ars patriae decus", which translates to "art is the honor of the country." Her love for art made her furnish the villa with numerous stunning artistic pieces, from paintings to furniture.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

After her death, the villa was left to the Academy of Fine Arts (Académie des Beaux-Arts). Following this, Louis Marchand, a notable landscape architect, was hired to transform the gardens to their current state. While he carried out restoration work on the French Garden, he is primarily responsible for designing the Spanish, Florentine, Japanese, and Mexican gardens.

The Second World War (1939-1945) interrupted this effort, but Louis returned to complete the renovation of the garden after the war. While many visitors love the signature pink-toned villa, it was previously painted a softer shade of yellow before the post-war renovation of the building.

Now, the villa boasts nine stunning thematic gardens alongside an impressive collection of art and historical artifacts.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

Visiting the Villa

Popular parts of the villa include the courtyard with beautiful arches where Baroness Beatrice welcomed her visitors. This part of the building has an array of pillars made of Verona marble to support the arches. The expansive living room filled with woodwork from Hotel de Crillon in Paris, carpets made at the Manufacture de la Savonnerie, and gaming tables by René Dubois is the grandest in the building.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

Beyond these, visitors can enjoy light meals and fine wine at the Beatrice Restaurant and Tea Room. This room, which served as the Baroness' dining room offers a wonderful view of the Bay of Villefranche. Here, you can indulge in culinary delights prepared under the guidance of Chef Aude Romero-Filipowski, who learned his art from famous Michelin-starred chefs like Alain Ducasse and Patrick Raingeard.

The Gardens

Though the beautiful building, impressive art collection, and serene atmosphere are compelling enough, the gardens are undoubtedly the reason many visitors flock to this tourist attraction throughout the year. The most prominent include:

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

 

The French Garden

The French Garden is said to be inspired by the Palace of Versailles and other iconic French landscapes and features a pond and stunning floral displays. The garden is shaped like a boat deck.

The Spanish Garden

The Spanish Garden is a smaller, enclosed space. It is home to numerous Mediterranean plants, such as pomegranate and olive trees. This is further elevated by the small canal which runs through the middle of the garden, creating the perfect, tranquil atmosphere.

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden features a beautiful array of stunning roses, centered around a small, hexagonal temple.

The Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden features numerous plants, such as Bonsai trees and a stunning pond. While this was recently redesigned, work began on the garden during Beatrice's time at the villa. The Garden is also named "Cho-Seki-Tei", which translates to "garden where one can quietly listen to the pleasant sound of the waves at dusk."

The Exotic Garden

The Exotic Garden, formerly named the Mexican Garden, features a wide range of seasonal plants and flowers. The garden's most prominent feature is the variety of giant cacti within it.

With an alluring exterior, well-preserved rooms and period furniture, and pristinely-manicured gardens to charm visitors, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is arguably the most compelling reason to visit Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. It will likely win the hearts of all visitors, particularly history buffs and anyone who appreciates Italian Renaissance architecture.


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