Friday, November 3, 2017

Lifestyles of the rich and eccentric

Last Saturday we enjoyed visiting the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a mansion built in the early 1900s in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. 




Cap Ferrat is a peninsula not far from Monaco. The mansion we toured was far from the only one in town. According to trusty Wikipedia, Cap Ferrat is "a favorite holiday destination among the European aristocracy and international millionaires." In other words, it's a classy place.


The neighbors.
That goes back to the time period of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, the granddaughter of the founder of the French branch of the Rothschild family.

Béatrice had this villa built to be her winter home starting in 1906, after separating from her husband. He was not a winner of a man. After he racked up millions in gambling debt, her father decided they should divorce. One year later, Béatrice's father died and she was the heiress of his huge fortune.  



This beautiful house is filled with art and surrounded by lovely gardens. Every room has antique objects made by famous artists for famous people (mostly French royalty).

For example, in the living room, the carpet was the only one saved from the pre-Revolution Palace of Versailles, the wall paneling is from Paris' Hôtel de Crillon, and the ceiling painting is by the Italian painter Tiepolo. Not bad.





This mantel and several other pieces of furniture in the house belonged to Marie Antoinette herself.






David is always very serious when audioguides are involved. I tend to skim through and skip to the interesting parts but he listens to. every. word. He didn't even notice when he wandered into my picture of this impressive clock, so I couldn't resist.




A few of Béatrice's things on display- a silk dress and some Sèvres porcelain. You can't deny the woman had taste.






The most impressive room was the entrance hall.




We were entertained by a few of Béatrice's quirks. She LOVED animals, and had a little pack follow her around at all times. At one point, she threw a formal wedding for two of her dogs. Invitations were sent out to high society, and they all attended with their dogs (wearing tiny tuxes and dresses, of course). The dog bride even got a diamond bracelet from Cartier for her paw. I so would have been there.

These chairs were for her favorite mongoose and favorite dog. You can't make these things up.



The funniest room in the house was the "Monkey Salon." The whole room was decorated with a monkey motif. I couldn't stop laughing.



I loved both the house and the gardens- the jury is still out on which was more impressive. The sea was on both sides since it's on a peninsula.









It's no wonder my camera ran out of memory that day! We've been sticking close to home lately, but thankfully there is no shortage of beautiful places to see on the French Riviera.







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