Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild was designed by the French architect Aaron Messiah, and constructed between 1905 and 1912 by Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (1864–1934) .

A member of the Rothschild banking family and the wife of the banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi, Béatrice de Rothschild built her rose-colored villa on a promontory on the isthmus of Cap Ferrat overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Baroness filled the mansion with antique furniture, Old Master paintings, sculptures, objets d'art, and assembled an extensive collection of rare porcelain. The gardens are classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.

On her death in 1934, the Baroness donated the property and its collections to the Académie des Beaux Arts division of the Institut de France and it is now open to the public.

The villa is surrounded by nine gardens, each on a different theme: Florentine, Spanish, Garden à la française, exotic, a stone garden, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, Provençal and a garden de Sèvres. They were created between 1905 and 1912 under the direction of landscape architect Achille Duchêne.

The garden was conceived in the form of a ship, to be viewed from the loggia of the house, which was like the bridge of a vessel, with the sea visible on all sides. It was inspired by a voyage she made on the liner Île de France, and the villa was given that name. The thirty gardeners who maintained the garden were dressed as sailors, with berets with red pom-poms.

The Garden à la française is the largest garden and occupies the area behind the villa. Next to the villa there is a terrace with a formal French garden and topiaries. Beyond the terrace is a park with palm trees and a long basin, ornamented with fountains, statues, and basins with water lilies and other aquatic plants. On the far end of the park is a hill covered with cypress trees, surrounding a replica garden of the Temple of Love at the Petit Trianon palace. The slope below the temple has a cascade of water in the form of a stairway, which feeds into the large basin.

A stairway from the French garden descends to the circle of gardens on the lower level. The Spanish garden features a shaded courtyard and fountain, with aromatic plants, Catalan amphorae, and a Gallo-Roman bench. The Florentine garden, facing the rade of Villefranche-sur-Mer, has a grand stairway, an artificial grotto, and an ephebe of marble. Beyond the Florentine garden is the lapidary, or stone garden, with an assortment of gargoyles, columns, and other architectural elements from ancient and medieval buildings. The Japanese garden has a wooden pavilion, a bridge, and lanterns. The exotic garden features giant cactus and other rare plants. A rose garden with a statue surrounded by columns adjoins it, where pink, the favorite color of the owner, is the predominant color. On the east side of the villa is a garden of native plants of Provence and a garden with decorations of Sèvres porcelain.

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Details

Founded: 1905-1912
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sarah Marie Karlsen (17 months ago)
Beautiful place and we really enjoyed the light show and music that they had in the evening. If I remember correctly, this happens in the evenings during summer. So if you are visiting, I would recommend checking this out. Highly recommend taking your time and enjoying all the gardens as well as inside the villa if you have the chance.
Larina Elita (19 months ago)
I loved my visit at the Villa and will definitely be coming back again. Things to know: - Bring your earphones. I can't stress this enough. This was a lifesaver. So many people were holding their tour guide apparatus near their ears. - If you're coming by train, stop at the Super U before coming to get yourself a nice big bottle of water. There is a lot of walking and you get thirsty really quickly. There is also complimentary water served at the restaurant. - Bus 15 is the best way to get there. It comes every 15- 20 minutes.There is the 100 that also stops nearby, but when it's hot, the last thing you want to do is walk a whole lot. - It's best to come first thing at around 10- 11. That way you visit everything and get a nice table for lunch at 12. I noticed that after I finished my lunch (around 1:30) there seemed to be a huge line of people. -The menu is also the cheapest of the options. Menu is quiche of the day, salad and a dessert of choice. - Take time to walk around the gardens and just absorb the peaceful views. There is also a waterworks show that happens every 15 or so minutes. - Keep in mind that there are stairs. And sometimes lots of them. I heard so many grumbling about how there aren't any elevators. It didn't bother me personally- it is a tour. - The ticket is a bit pricey, but it is worth it in my opinion.
La Shin (19 months ago)
As a landscape designer I expected to be wowed by this garden. I wasn't. Best part is the Asian garden. Considering how hard it is to get to (by public transportation from Nice), I was disappointed. The Rose garden is uninspiring. The succulent garden takes over about half of it and I'm not a fan, but it's impressive if you are. The music & dancing fountains in the formal garden were the saving Grace. I had dessert and tea in the garden restaurant. 14.70euro. The praline chocolate dessert was just ok, but the tea was good and they gave me honey and hot milk when I asked for it. Restaurant ambience deserved 10 stars. Food gets a 3. The salad looked good, but for 14 or €16, I wasn't interested.
Ian Witham (2 years ago)
Lovely gardens, the French musical garden is extremely tasteful. A golf cart ferries you up from the road for free. Inside is an eclectic collection of mediaeval and earlier statues, door surrounds, plaques, paintings etc - could do with some sort of signage, although there is an audio guide (we declined). Had coffee and cakes outside on the patio, beautifully presented.
John Nichol (2 years ago)
A beautiful house in beautiful grounds. The audio tour is essential to understand the contents of each room and also serves to give an insight to the glamorous life of Beatrice Rothschild. The gardens are spectacular with great views across the bay, and the musical fountains add to the early twentieth century bohemian atmosphere. If I lived locally, I'd buy a season ticket.
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