Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bad Marriage and an Excellent Villa

Beatrice Builds a Villa
One day while we were in Nice, we decided to take a trip to Cap Ferrat, a peninsula replete with luxury homes jutting out into the Mediterranean. It was there that Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild built her beautiful villa in 1905.

 Richard at the entrance to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
Exotic tropical gardens at the Villa.
Beatrice, who was born in 1864, was the daughter of a filthy rich banker and major art collector, Baron Alphonse de Rothschild. At 19, she married a man 15 years her senior, (pourquoi, je ne sais pas) Maurice Ephrussi, a Parisian banker. This marriage turned into a disaster in more ways than one. She caught a disease from the fellow which rendered her childless, and, it turned out, this guy was a big gambler.
 The villa is positioned to overlook the sea with
views to Villefrance and Beaulieu.
Maurice ran up debts amounting to 12 million in gold francs (about 30 million euros today), enough to make old-man Baron de Rothschild blanch. He took Maurice to court to demand a separation.
In 1905, Beatrice's father died, leaving her a vast fortune, and she built Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild as a winter residence.

The Villa holds Beatrice's art collection of over 5,000 works of art.
It was early, and the charming cafe beckoned. I had the strawberry tart.
Richard chose a raspberry parfait. Here is the waiter building the parfait.

 Beatrice had all manner of pretty things.

Puppies with their little armchairs.

 Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild has magnificent gardens.
 Views to the sea.
I am reading The Richard Burton Diaries, edited by Chris Williams and published by Yale University Press. In October of 1968 Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were aboard their yacht, the Kalizma off the coast of St Jean Cap Ferrat. Their boat could have been one of these seen moored off Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. I quote from a diary entry of Saturday, October 12th:
"Aboard the Kalizma. We flew last night from Paris. We shall go ashore later and probably go to La Ferme Blanche for lunch. Simon and Sheran are with us. They are delightful and so is the boat. The Monet is in the living room or salon, the Picasso and the Van Gogh are in the dining room. The Epstein bust of Churchill is brooding over the salon and there is a Vlaminck on the wall in stairwell to the kids' cabins. We finished early, about 6:45, and I went to pick up E and the guests at the Boulogne Studios. I saw W. Beatty who gave me a drink and was extremely flattering about Elizabeth. He said how remarkably beautiful she was and great film actress. The flight was as smooth as smooth, and took about an hour and a quarter. No one seemed to be nervous but of course we were stiffened by a few drinks.
We didn't go to bed until 3:30 because we were so excited at the joy of the boat. I can't as 'twere stop touching it and staring at it, as if it were a beautiful baby or a puppy dog. Something you can't believe is your very own.
Kevin McCarthy just appeared swimming, if you please, from the Voile d'Or (a hotel on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat). He is coming for lunch tomorrow."

The interior courtyard.

 This little boy was surprised by the fountains starting to spout.

 Pine trees along the sea.
Lunch followed the tour of the villa.
I had read in a guide book about a beach restaurant called Plage de Passable on Cap Ferrat. It was described as an enchanting spot sheltered by pines and palms. A place where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton might have dallied while they were in the environs.
 Sun worshippers on the beach next to the restaurant.

We dined on pizza and a rose wine.

For this trip, we hired a car.
Our chauffeur awaited après le déjeuner.

À bientôt!


  1. I love your tales of adventure and your photos! And your Richard Burton quote.

  2. Just this morning, Michael & I checked our last Power Ball lottery ticket... nada... zip... nothing, not even the Power Ball number matched for a $4.00 win. Ahhh... to have money.

    There were Rothschilds on my grandmother's side, who came to this country from Russia. Unfortunately, none of our immediate family ever experienced monetary wealth. I wonder if we had any connection to Beatrice? Even with tons of money, my villa would be more minimal in style and I'd definitely nix the gold touches everywhere. The cafe would stay... that raspberry parfait looks scrumptious!

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