In Never say never again Bond is taken to Largo’s home in North Africa, Palmyra. The exterior shots pictures Palmyra like some kind of fort, but the interior scenes were filmed at one of the most beautiful buildings on the Côte d’Azur, namely Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild at Saint-Cap-Ferrat. It was constructed between 1905 and 1912 by the Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild who was a part of the Rothschild banking family of France. The villa is situated on the narrowest part of the Saint-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, overlooking the Mediterranean on both sides.
Largo enters with Bond and Domino only to have Bond captured and imprisoned. After a quick dialogue with Domino she is taken away and put up for sale in the courtyard, a very stupid scene. This courtyard and exterior of Palmyra was filmed at the citadelle in the center of Villefranche-sur-mer, which is only a few kilometers away.
The Baroness definitively chose one of the best sites on the Riviera for her house and among her other accomplishments is the commission of the Rothschild Fabergé egg in 1902. The villa is surrounded by nine gardens, all with a different theme, for instance a Japanese, a French, a Spanish and a rose garden. The entire estate was registered as a historical monument in 1996. Also the rooms in the house have a different theme and the villa holds along with art and exceptional furniture the Baroness’ own extensive collection of French porcelain.
Unfortunately they were preparing an opera at the time of my visit so the main hall was filled with chairs and spotlights. Even though this is probably the least interesting Bond location on the entire Riviera, the villa is beautiful and the theme gardens are magnificent by themselves and well worth a visit, even if you are not normally into flowers.
The house can also be seen in the last part of the mini-series “If tomorrow comes” by Sidney Sheldon, starring Tom Berenger, Madolyn Smith and Liam Neeson from 1986. It is then called ‘Villa di Nantegna’ and is the subject of a break in and the theft of a Da Vinci.
“It holds Béatrice’s collection of French porcelain, considered to be the richest in France, if not the World.”
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