When researching for my French Riviera itinerary, the enchanting village of Eze was the place that excited me the most. Perched on top of a rocky outcrop this 12th-century medieval village is situated between Nice and Monaco and has far-stretching views out to the ocean. It sounds almost ethereal, like a fairytale village just waiting to be discovered.
The Romans and Moors had built it in this strategic location for detecting pirates who raided the country and for me, the mere mention of swashbuckling vagabonds turned it into something out of a fantasy and romance novel.
Of course, the pirates are no more, and over the centuries, it has become a quaint and attractive place to live and work. But could it live up to such grand expectations? I would just have to find out.
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The Enchanting Village of Eze
My plan to arrive early in the morning had worked perfectly as I had the place to myself rather than having to share it with other visitors. Arriving at 10.30 am, I wandered up the steep ramparts and entered the labyrinth of cobbled alleyways, only accessible by foot.
Wrought-iron street lamps, pastel shutters and flowering trees made everywhere feel magical, and I could imagine what living here must have been like all those centuries ago.
The church of Eze, built in the 18th century, stands proudly amongst the narrow pathways and although a relatively new structure, compared to others in the village, it is a focal point for the community.
Artisan Crafts and Cute Cafes
It has a calm feeling to it and has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Turn a corner, and you will find one of the many small galleries displaying original artworks. Enter through an archway and find an artisan shop selling unique creations.
Head up steep stone steps and arrive at a cafe covered with rambling bougainvillaea. There is no end to its beauty and charm, and tiny wooden doors leave you wondering just who lives inside. Courtyards offer the serenity just to sit, gather your thoughts and to absorb your surroundings. It is just incredible.
Le Jardin Exotique
Le Jardin Exotique is perched at the top of the village with views over the coastline and across to Cap de Ferrat, home to the rich and famous. A nominal entrance to the gardens rewards you with Mediterranean cacti, fruit trees and other tropical plants, as well as a variety of local species.
Sculptures located around the pathways take your eye away from the glorious views for just long enough to appreciate them before returning your gaze to the mesmerising panorama.
Chateau Eza Hotel
Before I left Eze I stopped for a drink at the five-star hotel Chateau Eza; I had been told that the view of the French Riviera from the balcony was spectacular and how right that information had been. I relaxed with a glass of chilled wine while and absorbed all the history around us, and if the walls could talk, they would have a story to tell.
Of course, to enjoy a setting like that does not come cheaply but guess what, I didn’t care because it was an experience worth the expense. I would love to stay at the Chateau Eza Hotel one day, with its unbeatable view of the French Riviera from its balconies and magnificent restaurant and have it on my bucket list. One can dream!
When it was time for me to leave Eze I was genuinely sad and I could have happily wandered around the village again as I am sure I would have seen something that I had missed the first time. Everything I had read about the uniqueness of Eze was true, and on a sunny day in March, I couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else.
Useful information on How to get to Eze.
I was using the hotel in Nice as my base and so caught a train from the station to Eze-sur-Mer station, which is a 15-minute journey. When I came out of the station, the bus stop was steps away, and I hopped on the no. 82 bus that whisked me up to the village.
Another option is to take bus number 82 or number 112 from Nice to Eze. Remember that while the views will be breathtaking, it will take longer than the train. At public holidays and weekends, the number 82 runs on a reduced schedule.
At the base of the village, there are restaurants and a tourist information centre. Still, for me, the visit to the Fragonard Perfume Shop was delightful, and I returned home with a bottle of “Pivoine” peony scent as a memory of my visit to Eze.
The sloped walk from the car park is quite uneven and slippery, as is much of Eze, so be sure to wear flat shoes with a grip to prevent accidents.
To visit the nearby Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, then the easiest option is to call an Uber from Eze as otherwise, the route will include two buses and a long walk.
Combined tickets are available for the Jardin Exotique and Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild from either property.