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Iconic villas to visit on the french riviera

Travel journal

The iconic villas to visit on the french riviera

The French Riviera has always been a source of inspiration, luxury, and glamour. This stunning stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean has captured the hearts of artists, writers, and jet-setters for many generations. The history of the Riviera is a tapestry of affluence and cultural effervescence. It has been a playground for the rich and famous, and it has given birth to magnificent villas, each reflecting the tastes and aspirations of its illustrious owners.

April 10, 2024

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild


The breathtaking Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, also referred to as Villa Île-de-France, was conceptualized by renowned French architect, Aaron Messiah, and brought to life between 1907 and 1912 by one of France’s most prominent socialites of the early 20th century, Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild (1864–1934). The property is situated between Nice and Monaco, overlooking the dazzling Mediterranean Sea. Its rose-colored walls, antique furniture, old master paintings, and rare porcelain collection will transport you to a bygone era.

The villa is surrounded by nine enchanting gardens, each with a distinct theme, including French, Spanish, Japanese, Florentine, and Provençal. It features an exotic garden enclosed in stone walls and a rose garden that blooms in summer. These gardens were designed to be viewed from the villa’s loggia, which resembles the bridge of a ship, with the sea visible on all sides. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is considered an official historic monument and its gardens are classified a “Remarkable Gardens of France.” This estate is open to the public, offering an invitation to travel and discover the beauty of this magnificent estate.

If you can’t make it to Villa Ephrussi, but would like an up-close look at stunning images of the property, be sure to get a copy of the MFCH March/April 2023 Magazine! Photographer Anthony Lanneretonne will make you feel transported to this storied estate as we reveal secrets behind the villa’s elite commissioner in our editorial report.

Villa Santo Sospir

Villa Santo Sospir is a true gem of the French Riviera, a place that embodies the glamor, beauty, and artistry that this region is known for. With over 200 Jean Cocteau artworks adorning its walls and having hosted luminaries like Picasso and Marlene Dietrich, this villa is an iconic symbol of the Belle Epoque era.

Unfortunately, when its original owner Francine Weisweiller passed away, the villa fell into disrepair. But thanks to the Melia family, who are deeply connected to French culture, Villa Santo Sospir is being restored to its former glory. For the Melia family, this restoration project is much more than just a renovation. It’s a labor of love, a way to bridge their heritage to the Belle Epoque and to honor the rich cultural history that this villa represents.

Our journey through the French Riviera’s most iconic villas promises to unveil the essence of this extraordinary region. Travel through time and creativity, exploring the heritage of these celebrated villas and the luminaries who brought them to life. These architectural masterpieces became not just homes but also showcases of artistic expression, hosting salons, soirées, and gatherings that shaped the course of art and culture.

villa Eilenroc

©Fred Romero

The magnificent villa Eilenroc is located at the edge of Cap d’Antibes. It was designed by Charles Garnier and offers a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the Belle Epoque era. The villa is surrounded by a stunning park featuring the typical Mediterranean flora, and a public rose garden that boasts thousands of rose varieties, including those created in the rose capital of Antibes Juan-les-Pins. There, you can take a stroll along the coastal path and enjoy the panoramic view of the Cap d’Antibes, or stop by the charming beach of l’Anse de l’Argent Faux. You can visit the 1st floor of the Villa Eilenroc on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.

Villa Kerylos

©Villa Kerylos
©Fred Romero

Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, is a testament to the beauty and grandeur of ancient Greek architecture and design. Built in the early 1900s by French archaeologist Theodore Reinach, this house has withstood the test of time and continues to inspire visitors from all over the world. Its name, Kerylos, meaning halcyon or kingfisher, is a symbol of good fortune in Greek mythology, adding to the villa’s mystique and allure. The meticulous attention to detail and the recreation of the luxurious interior of a Greek noble house is a marvel to behold. Today, the villa stands proud as a monument historique, open to the public to be enjoyed and admired for generations to come.

Villa E-1027

©capmoderne monuments-nationaux

Built between 1926-1929, E-1027, a modernist villa designed by Irish architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, stands as a testament to innovative design and thoughtful architecture. With its L-shaped layout, flat roof, and floor-to-ceiling windows, the villa was tailored to the needs and lifestyle of its occupants. Gray’s passion for design extended to practical furniture, including a unique tubular steel table.

Despite facing challenges during its restoration, E-1027 remains a cultural monument, recognized for its historical significance. The ongoing preservation efforts, with support from organizations like the Getty Foundation, aim to honor Eileen Gray’s legacy and maintain the villa’s importance for future generations. E-1027 is a reminder that great design and architecture can stand the test of time and continue to inspire us even decades later.

Villa Domergue and gardens

©Ville de Cannes

The Villa Domergue is a true masterpiece of Italian-inspired architecture built in 1934 by the renowned artist Jean-Gabriel Domergue. The villa’s breathtaking interiors, designed with meticulous attention to detail by the artist himself, and the stunning terraced gardens with their tranquil ponds and waterfalls, created by his sculptor wife, offer a magical setting for visitors to enjoy. Open to the public only during summer exhibitions, this iconic residence has played host to some of the world’s biggest names, attracting visitors from far and wide.

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