Built on a rocky promontory, high above the Bays of Villefranche and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the awe-inspiring Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its nine themed gardens offer one of the best views in the French Riviera. While Baroness Bèatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, owned several magnificent villas in the South of France, she is best known for the “pink palace” on the hill.
The Baroness was a passionate collector as reflected in her former home. She had a keen eye for design, and with a bottomless pocketbook, created a luxurious haven filled with priceless antiques. Here you’ll find a Savonnerie carpet made for Louis XV, an endless display of paintings by the great masters, porcelain from the Royal Manufactory of Sèvres, and so much more.
You’ll also find a Tea Salon-Restaurant in Béatrice’s former dining room which overlooks the Bay of Villefranche. It’s sumptuous, elegant, and fit for royalty. Of course, there’s a pea gravel terrace, and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s ideal weather begs you to enjoy a meal there, seated under the manicured orange trees.
Location: 1 Ave Ephrussi de Rothschild, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. Look up; you’ll spot the splendid pink villa easily.
Find Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat hotel reviews at rates at TripAdvisor here.
Menu: The Tea Salon-Restaurant serves a variety of elegant dishes. There’s an emphasis on beautifully created salads that are book worthy. For example, The Weigelia is a mixed salad with potatoes, smoked salmon marinated in dill, accompanied by a vegetable flan. While The Hortensia combines mixed greens with green beans, foie gras, caramelized onions, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. On the side, gingerbread toast with red onion chutney. One word. Imaginative.
Naturally, you’ll find a quiche with salad, and a plat du jour. If you’re in search of a sugar fix, look no further. There’s an extensive selection of pastries, ice cream, and sorbets to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The beverage list is impressive; you name it, they serve it.
Thoughts: I jumped for joy when the invitation was extended to visit the villa and gardens. Lunch was on my own, and I knew where I would eat; the villa’s own Tea Salon-Restaurant. I couldn’t pass on an opportunity to dine with history.
With temperatures in the 70s and brilliant sunshine, I chose a small shady table on the terrace. Although busy, it was intimate and would be a delightful spot for Valentine’s Day lunch.
My waitress quickly brought a carafe of water, and a basket of warm bread along with the menu. Glancing around, every plate in sight looked delicious; this was not going to be easy. I finally chose a dish from Les Plats; quiche of the day, mixed green salad, and of course, the requisite glass of wine.
The waitstaff was attentive; keeping a close eye on each table. If a water carafe needed refilling or an ashtray needed replacing, they were on top of it. Five-star service without the five-star price tag.
My personal size quiche was filled with crispy bacon, ham, and cheese, and cooked to perfection, Quite often the bottom is soggy; I was delighted to see this was not the case. The mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes was liberally covered with shaved Parmesan cheese and dressed with a light vinaigrette. I’d call this a delicious quintessential French lunch; perfect for a jam-packed afternoon.
My lunch was €23 or $26US.
Note: Allow plenty of time to view the musical fountains and gardens. The staff recommends touring the villa first, dine, then head out to visit the gardens.
Price Range: Salads €18-22, and Les Plats €16-20. Plat de jour with dessert is €23-27. Desserts are €10-4. Hot, and cold beverages are €3-6. Infusions, teas, and Tisanes are €5. Wine by the glass ranges from €7-13. Apéritifs are €7-20.
As hopeless Francophiles, she and her husband are planning to move to France; spring 2019.
Barb's articles have appeared in a variety of publications including The Good Life France Magazine, International Living, Fund Your Life Overseas, and more.
She's a member of The International Travel Writers Alliance (ITWA).
Visit her blog at; Chasingthenextchapter.com
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