Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, also called Villa Île-de-France, is a French seaside villa located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. Designed by the French architect Aaron Messiah, it was built between 1907 and 1912 by Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (1864–1934).
A member of the Rothschild banking family and the wife of the banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi, Béatrice de Rothschild built her rose-colored villa on a promontory on the isthmus of Cap Ferratoverlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Baroness filled the mansion with antique furniture, Old Master paintings, sculptures, objets d’art and assembled an extensive collection of rare porcelain. The gardens are classified by the Ministry of Culture as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France, whilst the villa itself has been classified as a monument historique since 1996.
Upon her death in 1934, the Baroness donated the property and its collections to the Académie des Beaux-Arts division of the Institut de France. It is now open to the public.
The villa is surrounded by nine gardens, each on a different theme: French, Spanish, Japanese, Florentine, Provençal, exotic, a stone garden, a rose garden and a garden of Sèvres. They were created between 1905 and 1912 under the direction of landscape architect Achille Duchêne.
The garden was conceived in the form of a ship, to be viewed from the loggia of the house, which was like the bridge of a vessel, with the sea visible on all sides. It was inspired by a voyage she made on the liner Île de France, and the villa was given that name. The thirty gardeners who maintained the garden were dressed as sailors, with berets with red pom-poms.
The garden à la française is the largest and occupies the area behind the villa. Next to the villa there is a terrace with a formal French garden and topiaries. Beyond the terrace is a park with palm trees and a long basin, ornamented with fountains, statues, and basins with water lilies and other aquatic plants. On the far end of the park is a hill covered with cypress trees, surrounding a replica garden of the Temple of Love at the Petit Trianon palace in Versailles. The slope below the temple has a cascade of water in the form of a stairway, which feeds into the large basin.