The belle époque or beautiful era, which occurred in France between 1871 and 1914 marked a period of great political, socio-economic and cultural growth. While Paris was the epicenter, celebrating the building of such masterpieces as the Grand and Petit Palais, the beautiful Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower, Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild was overseeing the construction of a stunning villa and gardens on the French Riviera.
A member of the banking Rothschild family and wife of prominent banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi, the Baroness built her villa on a spit of land between Nice and Monaco with an expansive view of the Mediterranean Sea below. My daughter, granddaughter and I visited during a day trip from Nice.
Béatrice filled the villa with antique furniture and great masterpieces. It's easy to understand why the mansion has been designated a "monument historique" by the French Ministry of Culture and the gardens as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France.
The carpets in the Grand Salon were made during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV.
This alcove in the Small Salon was designed for intimate after-dinner conversations.
Some of the beautiful furnishings of the Villa.
The Tapestry Room was being redecorated when we visited, but this beautiful tapestry was still hanging.
This is the Directoire bedroom. The Directoire period emerged toward the end of the French Revolution, from 1795 - 1799. This short period was influenced by decorations found at Pompeii after its destruction.
The Blue Bedroom was used for guests.
One of the beautiful views of the Mediterranean from the villa.
The staircase and the views it afforded were stunning.
As beautiful as the interior of the villa was, the gardens stole the show. Walking through them, you forget about reality.
There are actually nine different gardens, each with a different theme. This well-used plan was helpful to us as we walked through them.
The entrance to the Spanish Garden.
My daughter and granddaughter in the bamboo leading to the Japanese Garden.
This carob tree still produces seeds.
These Angel's Trumpets were in full bloom.
The French Garden and the Temple of Love. Béatrice designed this garden in the shape of a ship's deck.
The Rose Garden. There are 100 varieties of roses in this garden!
The Exotic Garden.
A few more photos of these beautiful gardens.
➜ Top Tips
The Villa is located about six miles from Nice and eight miles from Monaco, so it's an easy day trip from either one.
Parking is at a premium. We arrived around Noon and the parking lot closest to the Villa was full. We had hired a driver, but if you drive yourself, be sure you either arrive early or you know of other parking spots nearby.
Leave yourself plenty of time to walk through the beautiful gardens!