The daughter of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, who had grown up in l’Hôtel de Talleyrand and Château de Ferrières, married Maurice Ephrussi in 1883. The Villa Ephrussi was built at her wish between 1906 and 1912 and she also wanted to have nine gardens over an area of seven hectares. The garden construction took five years to complete, from 1907 to 1912.
The Riveria, an evocative name of luxury, sumptuousness and elegance, is blessed with a climate that favours a comfortable lifestyle. The beauty of Le Cap Ferrat and its proximity to Nice and Monte-Carlo attracted many international elites during La Belle Epoque.
Ephrussi de Rothschild and the Gardens
The topography of this new Eden inspired the baroness. She designed the principal garden like the deck of a liner from where one could always see the sea. The baroness could then dream being on board of the liner “Ile de France”. She even hired walk-ons wearing berets with red pompons to stroll along the principal deck!
She hired renowned figures like Harold Peto for the garden construction. Harold Peto was a respected landscaper in Europe and the United States. The classical gardens he created earned him a high reputation. Exploring the gardens of Eprhussi is to embark on a round-the-world journey on a transtlantique cruise.
The French Garden
It dominates all the others by its size and its location in the Villa’s extension. Overlooking the waterfall, the perspective is magnificent, comparable to its source of inspiration, the Temple of Love at the Grand Trianon Palace. The structured slope gives a whitish visual effect to the flowing water – “the water shawl” of the Orientals.
The garden offers a unique view to the palazzo. In summer, lotus and water lilies blossom in the big basins. The lawn is ornamented with classic “pots-à-feux” and large Italian Renaissance vases. Catalonian sculptures adorn the terrace.
The Spanish Garden
While descending the stairs from the Cours d’Honneur, one can enjoy the pleasant fragrance of daturas, jasmines and honeysuckles. Aranjuez is not far…. At the end of the stairway, a grotto is found hidden behind a pink marble column, with a dolphin fountain in the middle. The basin extends to the foot of the pergola.
The Florentine Garden
Beyond the basin and the pergola is another world. A u-shaped staircase surrounds a stony grotto. Behind the philodendrons and water hyacinths, a marble Adonis looks away from the panorama.
The Stone Garden
Following the alley lining with cypresses, a stranger may be puzzled by the accumulation of artworks here. Near the camphor tree is a group of artworks that the baroness had not found a space inside the villa to accommodate, including fountains, capitals, Middle Age and Renaissance bas-reliefs, gargoyles, stone grotesques and even Provençal gnomes.
The Japanese Garden “Cho-Seki-Tei”
“Cho-Seki-Tei” means “a garden where we can listen peacefully the pleasant sound of the waves at dusk.” It is a world of zen. Designed and built by Professor Shigeo Fukuhara, it highlights the traditional wooden pavilion, the bridge, the lanterns and the basins, illustrating more than a thousand year of Japanese tradition.
The Exotic Garden
This is a real kingdom of giant size cacti.
The Rose Garden
Rose is the beloved flower of the baroness. A variety of roses fill the garden and the hexagonal temple with its fragrance. A deity, an allegorical figure of spring, stands in the middle.
Also not to be missed are the Provençal Garden to the east of the plan and the Garden of Sèvres which has a tea house.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and Gardens
Tél : 04 93 01 33 09 / Fax : 04 93 01 31 10
Everyday from 10:00-19:00 with the following exceptions:
November to February:
Weekends & School Holidays: 10:00-18:00
8km from Nice
12km from Monaco
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild overlooks the harbour of Villefranche and the bay of Beaulieu.