VILLA EPHRUSSI

Here is a place out of time, out of space, out of everything: Villa Ephrussi.

The place is absolutely magical and enchanting, and I don’t know where to start.

So let’s start with its owner, Béatrice de Rothschild, born in 1864. I think you get it, Béatrice was born with some ease in life, since she was the daughter of Baron Alphonse de Rotschild, of the Paris branch, and of Leonora de Rothschild, from the London branch (inbreeding, when you got us).

Béatrice married at 19 with a friend of her parents, 15 years older than her, the Russian billionaire Maurice Ephrussi. To say that the marriage was a disaster would be a no-brainer, since Maurice, full of delicacy, transmitted to his wife a sexually transmitted disease which would prevent her from being pregnant and since Maurice, always full of delicacy, siphoned the fortune of the couple at the game. The couple divorced in 1904. However, Béatrice kept her name as a married woman, the divorce being at the time the mark of infamy.

Béatrice’s father died in 1905, leaving her extremely rich. She acquired, under the nose and beard of the King of the Belgians Leopold II who coveted the place, a 7 hectare site in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where she wanted to build the palace of her dreams.

Thus was born the Villa Ephrussi.

Gigantic works took place during five years, from 1907 to 1912, to create the palace and the gardens. Aaron Messiah was in charge of the construction of the Villa baptized “Ile-de-France” in homage to the ship on which Béatrice liked to travel, and this name is entirely correlated with the gardens, which are deployed in front of the Villa on the South side, on an cliff in the form of a ship’s bridge.

Speaking of the gardens, they required some work: dynamite and level. The difficulty of creating lush green gardens when the terrain is rocky and windswept was overcome by the addition of tons of soil, which allowed the creation of French gardens.

These French-style gardens, to the South, are the ones which are shaped like a boat, adorned with waterfalls and ponds, with the Temple of Love at the very end of them.

But other gardens adorned the 7 hectares of the estate: the Japanese garden, the lapidary garden and the rose garden.

Later, the Spanish garden, the Italian garden, the exotic garden and the Provencal garden would be added.

The Spanish garden is breathtaking.

The exotic garden is amazing.

The Villa itself is Italian: the Florentine Renaissance and the Venetian School are the most obvious inspirations.

Béatrice joined the club of great collectors of the time – the Cernuschi, Camondo, Jacquemart-André, Frick and other Wallaces – which was easier for her as her education heightened her taste for art. The interiors of the Villa are rich, very rich, sometimes too rich, but I like to imagine this woman – ultimately very alone in my opinion – wandering in her palace, admiring her gardens and warming her heart with the beauty of her creation.

 

Edmond Rostand may have only wanted white in his Villa Arnaga, but Béatrice demanded only pink, her favorite color.

Béatrice deserted the Villa in 1916. On her death in 1934, she bequeathed the Villa Ephrussi to the Institut de France – to our greatest happiness.

Alexander McQueen dress – Repetto flat shoes – Lanvin purse – Miu Miu sunglasses

July 8, 2022