‘I have achieved my purpose by defying the laws of Nature and common-sense.’ Thus Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi, neé de Rothschild, (1864-1934) described her completed villa ‘Ile de France’ and its gardens situated on the narrowest isthmus of the Cap Ferrat.
Béatrice had purchased 17 acres of land in 1905 and it was to take 7 years, 14 architects and hundreds of engineers and workmen before her dream was realised. The design of Villa Ile de France is officially attributed to Aaron Messiah, although many hold that it was the Baroness herself who was the real designer of the pink villa inspired by Italian palazzi and medieval colonnades.
There exist several gardens within gardens, including Spanish, French, Rock, Exotic Plant and Italian gardens. These were created by the landscape architect, Achille Duchêne. From her loggia the Baroness would oversee her 30 gardeners at work bedecked in berets with red pom poms.
When Béatrice died in 1934, she left the house complete with contents and gardens to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. It is now a museum and may be visited by the public.