An Englishman, a Croat, an Australian, a Norwegian and a French person walk into a Greek Villa in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the guide says “Is this some kind of joke?” No, this is a professional outing of 5 Villa Saint Exupery employees to discover the tourism potential of two villas along the French Riviera, and both lived up to the hyped expectations. The two villas in question were the Greek style Villa Kerylos (in Beaulieu-sur-Mer) and Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens (in nearby St Jean Cap Ferrat).
Possibly the best thing about travel along the Cote d’Azur (apart from the stunning views) is the price. Only 1€ for a journey on the bus each way! This even applies to a journey from Nice to as far as Menton on the #100 bus. If you wish to visit the Villa Kerylos first (which I recommend), then take the #100 bus, and ask the driver to tell you where to get off. Hint: if you’re sat on the right (which you should do just for the view), then you will see the road signs for Villa Kerylos and can hit the bell then.
Entry to the Villa Kerylos is 11€ (reductions available at 8.5€), which includes a handy audioguide (English available). I saw this as an opportunity to improve my French, and I was surprised by how much I understood. However, my mind is like a sieve when it comes to remembering stuff that has been said to me in French, so I’m having to refer to the website a bit here to jog my memory. The building is centred around the Peristyle, an impressive setting held up by twelve white pillars.
From here, discover the Andron (men only!) or the Library. WARNING: a very, very cute (presumably resident) cat was found here. SIDE EFFECTS: lots of “ahhhhing”, repetition of the phrase “I want to take this cat home with me” and repetitive stroking likely. If you can bear to tear yourself away from this delightful feline, then head upstairs to have a look at some of the bathing rooms where Theodore Reinach (the German born creator, but not the architect) would presumably wind down after a long hard day admiring the stunning views along the coast.
All in all, the Villa Kerylos is worth a visit and most definitely so if you are interested in Greek architecture. The majestic coastal views speak for themselves, and are arguably even more impressive from our next destination: the Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens. To get there from the Villa Kerylos, turn left onto Avenue des Hellènes and walk along here for about 10 minutes, and then turn left onto Avenue Denis Semeria. The entrance is 10-15 minutes down here on the left.
Although the villa itself is impressive, it’s the gardens that are the standout feature here. Be sure to pick up a leaflet from the front desk describing which sections of the Gardens are blooming according to the season. The pamphlet separates the gardens into two categories: “unmissable” and “must be seen”, they sound the same to me…and if you like dead roses then be sure to visit la Roseraie in February!
There are some very well preserved gardens; all of them have clearly been immaculately looked after. The exotic garden was a personal favourite of mine, and actually one that is “unmissable” all year round. The highlight of the gardens for many is the musical fountains which occur once every 20 minutes and provide quite a show. After this, we explore the villa interior (audio guides available) further and admire the amazing views of the musical fountains from the top floor. A few hours strolling around this place will probably make you intrigued to find out more about the original proprietor, Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild. She obtained the funds for the villa following the death of her father, and this became her winter residence to which she regularly invited friends and family to.
You’re invited too now so when you’re next with us in Nice, then be sure to pop along the coast to explore these charming buildings. The separate entries are 11€ for the Villa Kerylos and 12.5€ for the Ephrussi villa. However, you can buy a combined ticket for 19€ to enter both properties, providing that they are used on the same day. Enjoy!