Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a Belle Epoque residence built to impress, is within easy reach of Nice by bus no 81 to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, but you have to get off before the bus reaches the village, at the stop marked Ephrussi de Rothschild, then walk up the long driveway. The Villa is set on high ground on the isthmus leading to Cap Ferrat, and as a result you have wonderful views across the bay of Villefranche in one direction, and along the coast towards Cap d’Ail and Monaco in the other. The interior is well worth a visit, including the octagonal tea room with stunning views across to Cap de Nice and Villefranche, and here you can have a light lunch such as quiche or salad. It’s not really a restaurant, more of a tea room, but it has a certain charm. The truly spectacular part is the tour of the gardens, each with its own particular theme. There are a number of steps and gravel paths so not all the gardens are easily accessible with a wheelchair or a pushchair. At the end of the visit you come to the water gardens in front of the Villa, with the spectacular “jeux d’eau” accompanied by a recording of Rossini’s “Thieving Magpie”. The museum shop is well stocked with high quality gifts and books, and there is free parking in the driveway leading up to the main entrance, but you need to look out for the sign at the top of the driveway showing you how to turn your car around, as it is a pretty tight manoeuvre. It’s also easy to get here by bus from Nice, on foot from Villefranche or Beaulieu, or by bicycle. I would avoid visiting the gardens in the hottest part of the day in the summer, taking account of the fact that the quality of the light is better later in the afternoon.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a one day outing for garden lovers and those who like to be immersed in botanical beauty. The variety and scope in the garden is immense. The range of species of plants and the garden design and placement leaves nothing to be desired. Apart from the views of the Mediterranean and Villefranche in the other direction with the cruise ships and exquisite aquatic vessels passing by, places the visitor in a surreal like world. The water fountains are synchronized with the piped music in the garden. The symphony plays as water dances in perfect timing. A villa not to be missed.

This is like a small world designed for the happyness of Adam and Eve. The villa is impressive, has an italian style with a mauresq touch. In the museum you will see mainly French china works, but we particularly loved our walk in the vast thematic garden and around the pool.

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