on March 29, 2006
We were told this was a "don't miss" site, and that is certainly true!!From Nice's Gare Routiere bus station we bought two tickets on the 81 bus to Cap Ferrat to see the Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild, the bus dropped us off right outside the gates. What an amazing day!The Villa et Jardins are an unbelievably ornate and over-the-top belle époque pink confection. It was commissioned by the eccentric Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in 1912 and took 40 architects seven years to build. She already owned a huge villa in Monaco but loved the natural beauty of Cap Ferrat on the Cote d’Azur, and bought the 7 hectares from under the nose of King Leopold II of Belgium who wanted to extend his neighboring property. Her favorite color was pink, and it is represented everywhere! There is also elaborate Louis XVI furniture, Fragonard paintings and decorative porcelain in the 18th-century style.The best part for us was viewing the villa’s seven themed gardens, overlooking the harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer. They are Sevres, Spanish, Japanese, Florentine, stone, cactus/exotic, and rose gardens (although we were heart broken that it was too early for the roses, which are best in May through July). The gardens are landscaped to resemble a ship’s deck, with waterfalls and ponds, to commemorate a cruise she enjoyed on the “Ile de France”, and Baroness Beatrice even had her gardeners dress like sailors. There is a “Temple of Love” statue of Aphrodite at the prow with a stream that leads to a pool in front of the villa and there are musical fountains which dance every 20 minutes, they are truly magical!Inside the Villa they offer a short free film explaining the history of the Villa et Jardins (it runs continuously) and if you like, you can take a tour for €2, although since it was only offered in French we decided to pass. They offer the tour in English in July and August we were told. The beautiful rooms joining the lovely covered patio include the Louis XVI room, Louis XV room, the boudoir with little chairs for her dogs, the dining room, and a tea room that serves as a restaurant today. We were lucky to have a bright sunny day and our photos were dazzling. All I can say is that we absolutely loved this place and will keep the relaxing and romantic images in our minds forever.
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