As a part of our UMD-required culture class, we will take a few day trips around the south of France to learn more about regional history and culture. On our first excursion, we took the train to Beaulieu-sur-mer (direct translation: beautiful place on the sea), a small town six miles east of Nice. Here, we explored two villas-turned-museums of wealthy, French families.
Villa Kérylos was the holiday home of French politician Théodore Reinach, who designed the structure with architect Emmanuel Pontremoli in the early 1900s. The home, named “Kérylos” after a bird of Greek mythology signaling a good omen, was a tribute to the grandeur, style, and beauty of Greek civilization. Each room told stories of the ancient Greeks through tiled floor images, painted walls, statues and replica furniture of the time. Following an audio guide, I learned about the Reinach family, Greek mythology and the ancient civilization’s presence on France’s Mediterranean coast today.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
A short walk brought us to our second destination, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. This estate was the home of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, née Rothschild, a French baroness. Constructing the home after her divorce in 1904, she filled the home with great antiques, including furniture, porcelain, and Asian art.
The gardens of the estate were also a part of the baroness’s vision, though of the nine sections present today, four were added after her death. The grounds were beautiful, even for a winter day. We enjoyed exploring each themed section of the garden and were thoroughly entertained by the fountains that synchronize to music every 20 minutes for a stately show.
Lastly, my classmates and I dined at the villa’s tea room. With outdoor seating for warmer days, the tea room and patio overlook the sea. An afternoon pastry and warm drink is the French way to end the day.
- Villa Kérylos
- Rue Gustave Eiffel, 06310 Beaulieu-sur-Mer
- Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
- 1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Paix, Amour, Nice