Side Trip: Ephrussi Garden, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat


FROM NICE LAST TUESDAY, when clouds reigned, I took a half-hour bus ride up into the hills above the coast (itself worth it for the views). I was headed to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where the Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, between 1905 and 1912, built a fanciful pink villa overlooking the Mediterranean, surrounded by a series of thematic gardens. They are spectacularly beautiful, as are the views of the sea.


I made short work of the villa, full of Sèvres procelain, Gobelins tapestries and Old Master paintings; I was too eager to be outside. But the audioguide filled me in Béatrice’s early marriage to an associate of her father’s, the banker Alphonse de Rothschild; their eventual separation; and how, after the creation of these artful and enduring gardens, she spent the last decades of her life gambling at Monaco.

But that’s neither here nor there. The gardens are very much here (thanks in part to Culturespaces, the French equivalent of Britain’s National Trust), and available to visit year-round. There’s an atmospheric tea room that shares the villa’s decor and vistas, so no worries about lunch.

There’s a Spanish garden, below


and a Florentine garden, below, both of which instantly evoked those places for me.


There’s also small Japanese garden; an Exotic or cactus garden, with specimens I had never seen; a Rose garden, barren at this time of year; a wild Provencal garden that was the least structured of them; and the more formal French garden nearest the villa, which contains music fountains that spew water and Mozart every twenty minutes.


About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in FRANCE, GARDENS & GARDENING, TRAVEL and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Side Trip: Ephrussi Garden, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

  1. Astor C says:

    A hedge is never just a hedge in these gardens. I like that in the midst of the formality there is chaos. Probably like Mdm. Rothschild’s life.

  2. Lula says:

    Dear God, bless Cara, and the Baroness and the French National Trust. Amen.

  3. cara says:

    Lol…and by the way I have about 50 more pictures of the garden if you want to see them.

  4. Andrea Loukin says:

    Not sure you will get this. But I just want to say that I have been thoroughly enjoying your posts. A breath of fresh air and sun and flowers and beautiful architecture in my inbox. Looks like you are having a blast!

    Andrea Loukin

    The LOUKIN company

    838 Union Street

    Brooklyn, NY 11215


  5. cara says:

    Of course I got it Andrea! Good to hear from you. And I was just thinking of you today because I am on to Milan tomorrow, armed with your restaurant suggestions. Glad you are enjoying my trip :-)

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