Renowned for its breathtaking setting, this is EZE. If you have visited this popular tourist destination in the south of France, you undoubtedly have a photo just like this in your album. Who can resist such a spectacular panorama?
The medieval hilltop village perches on a rocky outcropping overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean and the coastline of the Côte d’Azur. On a clear day, the view reaches over St Tropez to the west and Italy to the east.
This area has been inhabited since 2000 BC and vestiges of the Greeks, Romans, and Moors are still being discovered.
That jumble of buildings at the top of the photo is the village of Eze. At the bottom is Eze-sur-Mer. I took the shot from a boat cruising along the coast on a very sultry afternoon. Sorry it’s a bit hazy … but that’s the French Riviera on a hot summer day!
To get to Eze, take the picturesque Moyenne Corniche route up to the village. Visitors often combine the trip with a drive down to Monaco a half hour away.
For those more adventuresome, the Nietzsche Trail (formerly a goat and donkey path) winds its way up this cliff. My suggestion, on a cool day, is to take the bus up to Eze and walk down the trail (about 1-1/2 hours). Reward yourself with a cool beverage and fresh-from-the-sea petite friture at a beachside bar in Eze-sur-Mer. Wear walking shoes and take water. It’s not overly challenging and there is some shade. For more information about it, click here.
To get there from Nice for just 1.5 euros, simply take bus #112 from Gare Routiere, the central bus station. This is the famous drive from a car-chase scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. That movie is a lot of fun to watch for great views of the Côte d’Azur throughout the film!
There’s a bit of an uphill walk from the parking lot and bus stop to arrive in the village proper. The walk starts from just below the cliff you see under the church, so it’s not that bad!
Enter Eze through the ancient archway for a delightful day meandering the labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and galleries. Slender passageways lead to hidden squares. The oldest building, La Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, dates to 1306.
Remember it’s a hilltop, so there’s a lot of up and down. Comfortable shoes make it a more enjoyable experience. Eze can be crowded so pick your times carefully and avoid midday in the summer if possible.
This is the tiny gate the Moors snuck through in the 8thC to overtake the sleeping inhabitants and rule for 80 years. That’s just a little vignette of the turbulent history of the area. There’s so much more! Visit the tourist office near the parking lot to pick up brochures.
Famous for its beauty and charm, the village is a popular honeymoon destination with two luxurious 5-star hotels that also feature fine dining in former grand houses that once belonged to royalty. The Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or and Chateau Eza offer truly unique experiences, whether it is for an exquisite meal or simply a cool beverage, as you drink in the view. There are also a few opportunities in the village for a light snack or a drink. One you will find as soon as you enter Eze and the other is conveniently located at the entrance to the exotic garden.
When you plan your day, make sure you do not miss the exotic Jardin d’Eze. Built by hand, an amazing feat in itself, after WW2 and with the help of donkeys that were traditionally used in the village, the array of cacti, agave, and aloe create a magical display of botanical wonders. The path leads to the ruins of the 12th C hilltop castle that was destroyed in 1709.
The gardens also serve as a sculpture park showing a permanent installation of ‘Earth Goddesses’ by the artist Jean-Philippe Richard. A world famous sculptor, his work can also be seen in New York and Palm Desert as well as throughout France.
Visiting the garden at sunset is an unforgettable experience … but any time is pretty exceptional. Don’t miss Eze!
All photography in this photo essay is under copyright to Patricia Sands.
More tourist information about Eze can be found by clicking on this link.
Bonne vacance … whether it’s from your armchair or the real thing!
P.S. Wherever I go in France, I’m always fascinated to see they still use these old-style brooms. I can’t resist taking shots of them. This one was in Eze. What strange things attract your camera lens?
For more information on spectactular EZE, click here.
A confessed travel-addict, best-selling author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else, and calls the south of France her second home. Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page or her website. There are links to her books, social media, and a monthly newsletter that has special giveaways and sneak peeks at her next book.