St Jean Cap Ferrat
You might think that you have seen it all after a trip to Keukenhof gardens, in Amsterdam, yet there is another garden that you need to visit, called, Villa Ephrussi-de-Rothschild, once owned by Béatrice Ephrussi, the daughter of the fabulously rich banking family – Rothschild.
The French garden
A national heritage site with 9 amazing gardens, located on St Jean Cap Ferrat, just south of Villefranche sur Mer and well situated, with stunning sea views from both sides of the property.
St. Jean Cap Ferrat resembles an arm protruding out of Villefranche sur Mer.
The gardens range from French Provençal to Japanese, Spanish, and Florentine. She spared no expense.
Yes, you could call it one rich women’s display of wealth, still, it’s exceptional, and worth the 14 euros for entrance fee. She fell in love with the land and the view…who wouldn’t!
The main attraction —Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild found inspiration in her travels, and created her gardens on 17 acres of land. The pink villa was built in 1905 in neo-Venetian fashion, or Italian Renaissance style…think flamingo pink!
It will satisfy you on all levels artistically and visually; it’s historical, with unbelievable treasures from the past, peaceful gardens, and has the view the bay of Villefranche, one of the deepest natural harbors in the Mediterranean.
As an avid art collector, she also had a price-less collection of 18thcentury china: Sevres and Vincennes porcelain. Along with Flemish and Beauvais tapestries.
I could go on about the interior, but the exterior is really the beauty that I came here for, not just architecturally, but the setting, the view, and gardens. One could live outside for most of the day.
Personal effects: Her travel gear was on display…
…along with her boudoir
After seeing the outdoor tea room, I regretted that I didn’t have a light lunch here, that would have made the visit really special. It was Béatrice’s dining room, and it has a wonderful view of Villefranche sur Mer.
In the French styled garden… the water fountains are synchronized with piped music. The symphony plays as water dances and is perfectly timed every 20 minutes.
The gardens are classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.
Japanese garden “Cho-Seki-Tei”
Not a bad way of spending her enormous inheritance, at the ripe age of 41…With no direct heirs, she generously willed the villa, the gardens, and her luxurious five-thousand-year collection of the ancient art to the French Academy of Fine Art. A last noble gesture of the heiress that will preserve her name in history.
…is no doubt the most expensive real estate in the world. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying this peninsula in the South of France. You don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy this island park-like setting, surrounded by the cobalt blue sea.
There are coastal walks, beaches, several restaurants and bars, a marina, and a lighthouse. It feels like a small village in paradise.
Just last month the tourist office issued a brand new bus for touring the area. They splurged big time. The bus has A/C with leather seats…take advantage of this free bus. Save your energy for the coastal walks. Just a note on the villas; they are heavily fortified, and tucked away, making visibility difficult if not impossible — the owners want their privacy. Forget about the “uber” rich, there is plenty to do here for the entire family.
Coastal walks – free of charge…calling all nature lovers!
Take a short walk if this is your first time around, “Promenade Maurice Rouvier”, the walk starts in Beaulieu. This one is very popular and fun for your first time, as it takes you past a gorgeous villa that Charlie Chaplin owned and then sold it to David Niven.
Once called Villa Lo Scoglietto, now known as La Fleur du Cap.
There is a really long one that takes in the entire peninsula, about 3-4 hours, so take water and some protein snacks with you. Of course, I know you will dress properly with good footwear, a hat and sunscreen. They are well-maintained paths.
Coast path on St Jean Cap Ferrat
You will pass the umbrella pine trees, panoramic view of mountains in the distance, flowers growing from the rock. The view of the Mediterranean against the rugged limestone is not only refreshing, but invigorating. On my last walk, there was not one person, except my hubby, and it was fun to explore nature in tranquility.
Weather this spring was changeable every hour. It definitely was a difficult month for the jardiniers, which was evident in the rose garden. The Baroness would be upset if she saw it today. Dark clouds were constant and were hanging just above the mountains… plan to visit Cap Farrat in the morning, or just after lunch. Summer should be just perfect. Enjoy!
For more information, contact the Tourist Office at https://www.saintjeancapferrat-tourisme.fr
Movie Tip: Trail of the Pink Panther was filmed in the David Niven villa.