November 04, 2013

Gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

The Cap Ferrat peninsula in the south of France is home to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a spectacular pink mansion in the grand belle époque style. The villa is famous for its gardens - nine different themes featured in all.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Cap Ferrat

Visitors are provided with a map leading them through the various gardens. This link will take you to the map on the villa's web site.

Map of the Villa's Gardens

Entry to the Gardens

Spanish Garden

Strong architectural elements serve as a backdrop for the Spanish Garden's exotic plants, such as Egyptian papyrus which grows around the pond.

The Spanish Garden's Pond

Florentine Garden

The Florentine Garden is all that remains of a much larger Italian garden originally planted by Béatrice. Its focal point is the horseshoe staircase and niche containing a marble sculpture of an angel.

Horseshoe Staircase, Florentine Garden

View of the Bay of Villefranche

Stone Garden

The Stone Garden is a shady nook inhabited by gargoyles, gnomes and a planting of hydrangeas.

Stone Garden

Bas-relief Fountain, Stone Garden

Japanese Garden

The sand drawings and water features of the Japanese Garden promote a feeling of zen. According to the villa's web site the garden is known as "Cho-Seki-Tei" which means "garden where one can calmly listen to the pleasant sound of the waves at twilight".

Japanese Garden

Koi Carp Pond

Exotic Garden

The trail becomes steeper as you enter the winding pathway through the Exotic Garden, with cacti and other succulents growing on many levels of the terraced hillside. Some of the specimens have grown to an enormous size.

Cactus in Bloom

Provençal Garden

The Provençal Garden features plants from nearby Provence, such as olive trees, pine trees and lavender. A terrace on the hilltop provides a peaceful spot to rest on a bench and listen to the noisy cigales, or cicadas.

Rose Garden

At the far end of the property is the villa's Rose Garden featuring a hundred different varieties of roses. We visited at the end of July when the roses were beginning to fade. It must be spectacular in the height of blooming season.

The Rose Garden

Rose Garden Temple

French Garden

The French Garden was designed by Béatrice in the shape of a ship's deck, with the Temple of Love at its bow. The structure's position at the top of a hill offers a view of the villa below.

View of the Villa from the Temple of Love

The Temple of Love

The pond in the  French Garden features an Aquatic Show every twenty minutes, when multiple fountains spurt to the accompaniment of classical music.

The Musical Fountains

The lawns and gardens of the terrace in front of the villa are decorated with large urns and vases and there are more lovely views of the Bay of Villefranche.

View of the Bay of Villefranche

The Baroness loved to travel and the pink villa, her winter residence, is filled with artwork and treasures inspired by her travels. She also kept exotic animals such as flamingos, monkeys and gazelles.

The Villa Facade

Following our tour of the gardens, we enjoyed a light lunch beneath the orange trees on the terrace of the villa's Tea Room.

The Tea Room Terrace

Lunch on the Tea Room Terrace

Whether you're a gardening enthusiast or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a must-see sight on the French Riviera.

For up-to-date information, visit the official web site at

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