I was thinking today of the lovely embroidered silk waistcoasts in Ephrussi Villa on Cap Ferrat in the South of France. But just as wonderful as seeing them, is the journey you take and what you learn along the way. It is easy enought to buy a ticket for 1 whole Euro and board the coach in Nice, Menton or Monaco to Beaulieu. Go down the main street, stopping to look in the pretty furniture stores, at the bottom of town cross in front of what used to be the bridge club (which looks like a giant meringue) to the sea front and then head off to your right to find the Sentier Touristique that will take you all around the wonderful headland with probably the most expensive real estate on the planet that is Cap Ferrat. You will walk past David Niven's Pink Villa before reaching the yachting harbour of St Jean where you can stop for a leisurely café allongé. Then carry on round the edge of the headland itself by the side of the waves and dazzling blue sea. There are plenty of sun drenched perches if you have had the foresight to pack a picnic. After you have rounded the headland look our for the Plage Passable. You will turn off here up the Chemin Passable coming out in front of Paul Allen's house. Across the road you will see the sign to the Ephrussi Villa. When you manage to drag yourself away from the museum or are turned at at closing time, retrace your footsteps to the top of the Chemin Passable and continue into Villefranche where another harbour side cafe will deliver up wonderful food for you. From there simply spend another Euro to get a coach back to wherever it was you started.
Ok, I skipped the villa visit itself. What St Marks is to Venice, the Villa Ephrussi is to the South of France - it is a great and eclectic collection of architectural elements, textiles including wonderful silk waistcoasts of which no images exist so far, paintings, porcelain gathered up from around the world, but mainly the accent is Florentine Renaissance. What couldn't be accommodated in the house, found sanctuary in the fabulous gardens with their musical fountains. Béatrice born Rothschild had items brought to her from which she would select the items she wanted to keep on the train platform at Beaulieu. It is said she bought an entire chapel just for one fresco.... When she died in 1934 she bequeathed her villa and more than 5,300 works of art to the Académie des Beaux Arts of the Institut of France. So, go see. Or click here for a virtual visit.