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Ball of Baroness Beatrice: oriental culture on the French Riviera


In this article you will learn details of the glamourous ball held in the gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

First we start with a bit of history. In 1905 Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild discovered the picturesque cape of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This is where the representative of one of the most famous European dynasties acquired a rocky 7-hectar plot and built a house of her dreams. Seven years later, the legendary Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a winter residence for Beatrice, became part of the Cap Ferrat landscape. The Baroness hosted the elite of French society in its luxurious interiors. The mansion had a collection of XV-XVIII century art objects, which Beatrice, a passionate collector, bequeathed to the French Academy of Fine Arts.

100 years later, the sparkle and luxury of the Belle Epoque returned to the gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. On 22July, another ball was hosted here by one of the oldest Monaco families, by Calypso de Sigaldi. That evening the guests made an amazing journey back to the time when Eastern art captured Europe. An Oriental theme was taken up for the costume ball. Maharajas, pharaohs, Oriental princesses strolled in one of Cap-Ferrat parks, the venue of the opening Garden Party. Some of them live on the Riviera, others came to the ball specially from England, Italy and other countries.




All the magic, however, happened in the luxurious gardens of the RothschildVilla where guests were brought by vintage cars (Calypso de Sigaldihad thought of everything down to the smallest detail). As the gardens were slowly sinking into twilight, guests could enjoy two exhibitions that were held as part of the event. The artist and fashion designer Elizabeth Wessel, inspired by the legendary Belle Epoque, presented her works to the audience. Her paintings depicted Sarah Bernhardt, Vaclav Nijinsky, Paul Poiret, Count Etienne de Beaumont – these are just some of the personalities who brought Orientalism to the European culture. The bright colours of the party were highlighted by the papier-mâché sculptures of Sophie Melnick, inspired by the fairy tales of “One thousand and one nights” told by Scheherazade to the Persian king Shahryar.




Philippe Joannes, chef of the Fairmont Monte Carlo, skilfully combined Oriental/Asianand European traditions in his menu, delighting the guests with his mastery. Baked lobster in miso sauce, a popular Indian tandoori chicken, green tea sorbet with mango pieces… The talent of Joannes thus introduced the guests to the gastronomic traditions of the East. In the chef’s own words: “Delicious, fragrant, sunny and sociable in the way you share it, Oriental/Asian cuisine is a culinary escape through spices into new flavours”.

It must be said that this gastronomic journey was made to the sounds of “The Four Seasons” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and “The Dance of Death” by Camille Saint-Saens performed by French pianist Christie Julien. The Opera singer Delia Noble also joined the guests on her own birthday and performed the aria of Cio-Cio-San from “Madame Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini. The ball was crowned with a DJ set by Tom Lyon.



Today, the gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild are newly filled with tourists. They have no idea that just a few days ago the gardens were transported back in time to allow the guests enjoy the luxury of the Belle Epoque. We do hope that another such journey will happen here one year from now, bringing a ball back to the Villa Gardens.





Photo source: HelloMonaco/

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