Tour of Provence June 11-21, 2017
Day 10 – Final full day – June 20 – Visit to Old Nice and the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, on Cap Ferrat, between Monaco and Nice
In the morning we visited the old part of Nice (pronounced Nees not nice!) – getting there was a real mission. Because of the terrorist attack on the waterfront in Nice, the traffic flow has been altered in both Cannes and Nice to help prevent it happening again. The effect of this is to make it very difficult to get to some of the seafront areas. However, we got there in the end, with some good driving by Corinne.
I wonder how much these seafront properties are worth!
Nice (the town!) seafront – there is a lovely walk right by the beach.
We walked along the seafront and then walked through the old market. On the way we found a post office and with Corinne’s help, I posted the toy to my grandson. It is always such a mission posting things in a country that doesn’t speak English!
Then we went to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, on Cap Ferrat – it was a very hot day and it was good to be inside the Villa. It had some amazing furniture and wall hangings.
Some history rom the official website:
Béatrice was the daughter of the baron, Alphonse de Rothschild, a banker and renowned art collector. At the age of 19, she married Maurice Ephrussi, a Parisian banker of Russian origin, 15 years her senior, and a friend of her parents. The marriage quickly turned sour for Béatrice. She contracted a serious illness from Maurice, which prevented her from having children. Maurice was a gambler and in 1904, his debts totalled over 12 million gold francs, the equivalent of 30 million euros today.
Worried about the future, the Rothschild family decided to bring Maurice to court in order to file for a divorce. They won the case and in June 1904, after 21 years of marriage, the divorce of Béatrice de Rothschild and Maurice Ephrussi was officially pronounced. Béatrice then turned her attention to one of her great passions: collecting art. Béatrice had inherited her keen eye and her taste for beautiful objects from her family, renowned for the remarkable collections built up by several of her relatives over the years. Her motto was ‘Ars Patriae Decus’: ‘Art is the honour of the fatherland’. She acquired many items—a Tiepolo ceiling, eighteenth-century furniture, a games table that had once belonged to Marie Antoinette, and a rug commissioned by Louis XIV—to furnish the future villa.
Béatrice’s father died in 1905 and the Baroness inherited his immense fortune. That same year, she decided to construct her dream home in Cap Ferrat. When she first discovered this plot of land, she was immediately seduced by the beauty of the surroundings. However at the time, the site was rather inaccessible—it was little more than a barren rocky area traversed by a mule track. When she learned of the sale of the terrain and that the Belgian King, Léopold II, was also interested in it, she purchased it without hesitation.
The bedspread in Beatrice’s bedroom and one of her dresses and a pair of shoes.
Work on the gardens began immediately and took seven years to complete. The Baroness called upon the talents of several renowned personalities such as Harold Peto and Achille Duchêne—highly prized landscape architects in Europe and the United States at the time. The site chosen for the Villa was not particularly conducive to the creation of a garden. Indeed, creating a park on a rocky promontory covered with trees and exposed to strong winds was quite a tour de force. The Baroness had the ground dynamited and large quantities of earth were brought in to relevel the surface. Hundreds of Italian workers were hired for these large-scale relevelling works.
The Baroness furnished her Villa directly at the Gare de Beaulieu. A train arrive from Paris loaded with furniture and works of art. The Baroness would select the artworks for her Villa on the platform of the train station! Those works not selected for the Villa Ephrussi would furnish her villa in Monaco.
A year before her death, Beatrice bequeathed her Villa and the entirety of its collections to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The Académie also received the 7 hectares of land and some 5,000 works of art.
For dinner we went to Lou Fassum, Michelin-ranked restaurant in Grasse with the most fantastic view. The food was ok but not memorable, and as we were sitting on the terrace the lighting was not really good enough to take good photos.
They had these lovely plates on the table when we arrived – each one different but they were taken away! The other picture is a made of tiles and it is on an outside wall when you arrive at the restaurant.
This the final post for the Tour of Provence – On June 21 I took the train from Nice to Paris and I will write some posts about my time there.
After Paris I am on a tour (from July 7-12) to Normandy and the Loire Valley with Corinne from Lifestyle Vacations.
Then I go to London – and after that to stay with friends and family.
The other posts aren’t done, but come back and keep checking…..
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Provence through my eyes.