For the quintessential French Riviera experience, complete with sweeping Med views, charming medieval villages and beautiful winding country roads, a visit to the village of Eze is a must! It was many years ago on a travel website that I first learnt about this place, and the photos I saw captured my heart and made me put Eze on my wishlist. Many years later and the chance presented itself, and the dream of many years ago was finally realised. Even luckier for me was that I got to share my dream with my family.
Eze is a small village located on a rocky outcrop some 429 metres above sea level. Founded in the 12th century this village has seen its fair share of offensives, from Saracens, to the French and even the Ottoman. It’s location high on a rocky mount was obviously very good for protection and security. Today the chance to get a glimpse of this old village and its history is a very special thing indeed. Take the time to explore the village. This is free, and well worth exploring and getting lost amongst the tight alleyways and paths.
As you continue to climb through the narrow streets you end up at the entrance to the exotic gardens. This has an entry fee of 6 Euro, which sounds a bit steep, but is a MUST to experience the grand finale of this charming village. Located high on top of the old ruins of the circular fortress that once dominated the village, the exotic garden was designed in 1949 and houses many succulents and cactus. (The french seemed to have an obsession with exotic succulent gardens since we also visited them in Monaco and Cap Ferrat!) Anyway the views over the Mediterranean are amazing, made even more resplendent by the beautiful sculptures in the gardens, known as ‘goddesses’ or ‘graces’ and created by sculptor Jean-Phillip Richard. These really give the gardens a magical feel.
After exploring the gardens, you wind back down through the village lanes once again. This is a good chance to walk past the east side of the mount, to see the 1772 Church of St Notre Dame de l’Assomption and the small old cemetary behind it. All in all this charming village exceeded my expectations and then some. It really is as picturesque and magical as the photos show. Yes, it is very touristic, and I can only imagine how bad it is in peak season (we went in september) but with some careful planning you can avoid the cruise day trippers and have a relatively peaceful time. Add this to your itinerary if you are ever in the area!
Some tips:-From Monaco or Nice you can catch the train to Eze sur Mer and take a 45 minute hike up the Nietzsche trail to the village. This is ok if you are super fit or advenurous, but remember you’ll still have the walk around the village to do and it could be tiring!
-We took bus 100 from Monaco (our base) and got off at the stop called Gianton, then took bus 83 up the beautiful winding road to the village of Eze. This was quite easy as buses have an electronic sign on board which tells you the next stop ahead. It’s also super cheap at 1.5 Euro each. We did the same back a few hours later.
-As always, if you want less crowds, get there early!!! We got there at 9am and it was quiet. We were some of the first to get into the exotic gardens and have easy access to the views. By the time we were done 2 hours later the stampeding hordes of day trippers were huffing their way up the hill.
– It’s very exposed up the top, and it can get quite warm walking up to the top. Be sure to pack suncream and a hat, and plenty of water. Once inside the exotic garden there was nowhere to buy water.