No trip to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is complete without a visit to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its beautiful gardens.
The French Riviera has so much to offer: scenic beaches and art museums, coastal towns and mountain-perched villages, provencal markets and seafood restaurants, panoramic hikes and coastal walks… The list of places to see and things to do on the French Riviera is pretty much endless.
The chic and slow-paced Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula is located in the middle of the action. It’s where you’ll find some of the most scenic beaches in the South of France – Paloma beach for one – as well as some of the finest luxury resorts. But the true highlight of the peninsula is located higher up. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a magnificent estate nestled in the green hills of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It overlooks the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer in the west and the bay of Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the east. It’s a wonderful addition to any South of France itinerary.
Discover the beauty of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its dreamy gardens in this ultimate guide.
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The fascinating history of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was a modest fishing village until Belgian King Leopold II put it on the map in 1904 when he bought Villa des Cèdres. But he didn’t stop there… More plots were bought and more villas were constructed. Soon, aristocrats and prominent families from all over Europe started to flock to the peninsula and build the most monumental estates.
Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild, daughter of the regent of the Banque de France and descendant of the de Rothschild family, was one of them. After divorcing from her cheating and gambling husband Maurice Ephrussi, the well-traveled art collector and socialite built her dream home on a plot of land on one of the most beautiful vantage points on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat isthmus.
The construction started in 1907 and followed the design by architect Architect Jacques-Marcel Auburtin who was assisted by his colleague Aaron Messiah. Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, who divided her time over Paris, Monaco, and Deauville, made Villa de Rothschild her winter residence. She named it Île de France, after an ocean liner on which she had once taken a memorable voyage.
The pink-hued palazzo-inspired Florentine and Venetian-styled Rothschild Estate housed an amazing and eclectic art collection. Paintings from the hand of Old Masters, Sèvres, and Vincennes porcelain and wash drawings by Fragonard were just some of the artifacts on display. The Baroness had a fond appreciation for the finer things in life and her interior design reflected that refinement.
Landscape artists Harold Peto and Achille Duchêne were in charge of the exterior. No less than 9 sensational gardens encompass this stately Rothschild Villa. All were inspired by Baroness Béatrice’s travels. The French Garden was the first to be completed. The same steamship that the villa was named after, inspired the French Garden’s design. It features waterfalls, ponds, and the Temple of Love. The Spanish Garden, with its shaded courtyard and fountain, feels much more intimate. There’s also a Florentine Garden, a Stone Garden, an Exotic Garden, a Japanese Garden, a Provencal Garden, a Rose Garden, and finally, the Sèvres Porcelain Garden. At the time, the French estate also housed a private zoo with monkeys, parrots, gazelles, flamingos, and more.
Before she passed, Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild bequeathed the estate, including the 7 hectares of gardens and 5 000 pieces of art, to the Académie des Beaux Arts of the Institut de France. The villa was declared a Historical Monument by the French Ministry of Culture and the gardens are included in the register of the Notable Gardens of France.
Visiting Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a must when you’re staying in or near Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Visiting the iconic Rothschild Villa and its enchanting gardens
The Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild are open to the public 365 days a year. A free carpark is available.
While we certainly appreciated the Rothschild mansion and the artwork, the fragrant gardens were the true highlight of our visit. Meandering pathways lead along statues, ponds, flower beds, fountains, and the most amazing vegetation. The French Garden even features a musical fountain, that reminded us of the one in Versailles. Viewpoints galore in the garden and the villa. The panoramas over Villefranche-sur-Mer Bay and Nice in the west and Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Èze in the east are nothing short of spectacular.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild also houses a tea room that boasts the same amazing views of the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. In summer, a range of candlelit events takes place in the garden.
Here’s a photo report of our most recent visit.
Practical details to plan your visit
Planning a visit to Villa Rothschild? Then you’ll be pleased to learn that the villa and the gardens are open every day of the year. Here’s more information to help you plan your visit to Villa Rothschild.
What’s the best time to visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild?
The Villa is open all year long and so are the gardens. While the flora is beautiful any time of the year, it might be helpful to find out when to expect to see the gardens at their best. The following overview might help determine when to visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
How to get to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild from Nice?
To get from Nice to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild by bus, take either of the following bus lines:
- Line 15 from stop Promenades des Arts – Risso or from stop Port Lympia – Arson in Nice to stop Passable – Rothschild.
- Line 100 from stop Le Port in Nice to Pont-Saint-Jean in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Alternatively, you can take the train from Nice to Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Looking for timetables and rates? Check Eurail (non-EU passport holders) or Interrail (EU passport holders).
Alternatively, you can rent an e-bike at one of the VéloBleu bike sharing stations in Nice? More and more of these self-service stations allow you to rent a bike with a swipe your credit card. The host of the place where you stay in Nice can assist you in finding the bike stations that offer this option.
While the Nice to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat drive only takes about 20 minutes, we’d only recommend heading there by car if you’re visiting in shoulder season. When entering Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, there’s only one main road. Plus, parking is extremely limited, especially in summer.
In case you’d prefer to drive, after all, then we warmly recommend Discover Cars. It’s our go-to European car rental comparison site. The prices are highly competitive, the booking process is effortless and you can even select a pay later option that comes with free cancelation. Click here to get the best car rental deal.
What are the Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild opening times?
From February to June, Villa Rothschild is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. In July and August, it’s open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. From November to January, Villa Rothschild is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm on weekends and from 2 pm to 6 pm on weekdays.
When you plan your visit in July or August, then you could plan an evening visit to experience Les Nocturnes de la Villa Ephrussi and find yourself in a magical candle-lit decor.
What’s the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild ticket price?
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild ticket price is €16 per adult for a standard ticket. Discounted tickets and family tickets are available. Check the website for more information.
Where to stay in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat?
While a visit to Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild makes for an excellent day trip from Nice, you could just as well choose to spend more time in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It offers a fabulous setting for a chic getaway.
Hotel inventory is limited and the available hotels are among the most exclusive on the French Riviera. Then again, this is the kind of place that’s well worth a splurge. Here’s an overview of the best places to stay near Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild.
Et voilà, that concludes our guide to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. If you’re planning a trip to the Côte d’Azur, then make sure to include this fabulous French Villa in your itinerary. The views and gardens alone are well worth the detour.