Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild’s Villa and Gardens on the Cap Ferrat peninsula on the Côte d’Azur is an absolute gem. Béatrice was a member of the Rothschild banking family; when she was only 19, she married an older friend of the family, Maurice Ephrussi, who did his best to destroy her life. He gave her an illness that rendered her unable to have children and ran through the equivalent of 30 million Euros. Divorcing Ephrussi was a no-brainer – but they only split up after 21 years of marital “bliss.” One year later, she inherited her father’s estate and she used the money to buy 17 acres on the French Mediterranean and build her own palace where she passed her winters. She filled it with priceless art, bibelots, antique furniture, and surrounded it gardens full of exotic plants and animals. Upon her death, she left the house to l’Académie de Beaux-Arts. A visit is well worth a detour to Cap Ferrat if you’re in the south of France.
Today’s expression, c’est gros comme une maison (seh grow come oon mayzohn), literally means “it’s big like a house” and figuratively means “it’s obvious.” The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is rather larger than the typical house and its appeal is certainly obvious.