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Eze Travel Guide

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Of all the Cote d'Azur's perched villages, Eze has the most impressive position. Looming over the sea at an altitude of 427m, Eze is the highest seaside village in France and makes a dramatic exclamation point along the Moyenne Corniche.

Eze

The medieval walls that once encircled the village are long gone but the stony streets of the Old Town still wind precipitously uphill affording occasional glimpses of the sea far below.

Get details on how to do a day trip from Nice to Eze

 

The curious name, Eze, may derive from the Egyptian goddess, Isis. The ancient Phoenicians who once occupied this spot, allegedly dedicated a temple to her.

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Things to See & Do in Eze

Enjoy the Views

As you climb the path to the village there are lookout points that afford eye-popping views of the coast to Monaco and beyond.

View from Eze village

Medieval Streets

Wandering the streets is the greatest pleasure of visiting Eze. Yes, the streets are crammed with souvenir shops, small restaurants and cafes, galleries and boutiques but somehow the medieval ambience remains.

Medieval street in Eze

Enter the village through La Poterne

The Poterne, Eze

In the 14th century Eze's rulers, the Dukes of Savoy, became concerned about the security situation in their perched village. The entrance to the village was reinforced with towers, a casemate for a cannon to the left and gatehouses within. The fortified ensemble is called La Poterne.

Follow the marked path uphill on the rue Principale. Notice the trompe l'oeil windows on the left. They date from the 18th century when the street was populated by wealthy families who wished to advertise their status.

Trompe l'oeil window, Eze

Don't miss the Chateau Riquier.

Chateau Riquier, Eze

Chateau Riquier

The Riquier family was a wealthy, aristocratic family from Nice who built this outpost in Eze in the 13th century. In the 20th century the building was sold to American composer Samuel Barlow who restored it and also installed this fountain in a square across the street.

Fountain, Eze village

The fountain only dates from 1930. Until then water had to be carried uphill to the village from a source near the sea!

Chapelle de la Sainte Croix

A few steps up from the square on the right is this tiny chapel where members of the White Penitents order met and arranged assistance to victims of the Black Plague. Dating from 1306, it's the oldest building in the village. It's also where Eze residents voted to become part of France in 1860.

Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, Eze

Shopping

There are only 2100 residents of Eze and as you climb the streets you might think each one has a boutique! Many of the medieval buildings now house shops and boutiques selling a variety of artisanal items from clothes and bags to jewelry and textiles. The quality is good and the prices are reasonable. If you see something you like, buy it! Don't assume you can get it elsewhere in the region.

Shopping street in Eze

Chateau Eza

A few steps up from the fountain you'll see a sign for the Chateau Eza, formerly known as the "Prince of Sweden Castle". Prince William of Sweden chose this sprawling medieval building as the royal family's holiday residence in 1923 and it remained royally occupied until 1953. Now it houses one of the finest hotels on the Riviera, the Chateau Eza, which also boasts a fine Michelin-starred restaurant. It's worth stopping by at least for a coffee or cocktail on the terrace. Reserve ahead for lunch.

Terrasse of the Chateau Eza

Jardin Exotique

Follow signs to the Jardin Exotique at the top of the village. With drop-dead views and a beautifully curated landscape, it's one of the highlights of any trip to the Cote d'Azur.

Jardin Exotique, Eze

Dating from the end of WWII, it's a remarkable site that combines spectacular views with an artfully arranged garden landscape right under the remains of Eze's old fortress.

Ancient fortress of Eze

The gardens were planted in harmony with the local climate. The south side focuses on succulent plants from desert climes in the Americas and Mexico.

Cactus in Jardin Exotique, Eze

The northern side is shady and humid, perfect for myrtle, cistus, tree ferns from New Zealand and other typical Mediterranean plants. The west side shelters subtropical plants such as Cycas, Dicksonia, papyrus and ferns. Here, there's a "contemplative space" with teak lounge chairs next to a bubbling waterfall.

Contemplative space, Eze Exotic Garden

As you wander down the garden landscape, you'll be treated to jaw-dropping views over the coast and down to Eze-sur-Mer.

Coastal view from Eze

Along the way, enjoy another feature of the Jardin Exotique: sculpture.

Sculpture of woman in Jardin Exotique, Eze

Sculptures of women in Jardin Exotique, Eze

Artist Jean-Philipe Richard created terracotta and bronze sculptures of women to adorn the Jardin Exotique in 2003. Their graceful figures blend in perfectly with the landscape.

Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption

After leaving the gardens follow signs to the Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption.

Church of the Assumption, Eze

This baroque jewel was built at the end of the 18th century by the Italian architect Antoine Spinelli on the ruins of a much older church.

Interior of Church of the Assuption, Eze

There are 18 sun motifs in the flashy interior which may be an allusion to the worship of Isis, the Egyptian sun goddess. It's said that the ancient Phoenicians occupied this site even before the Romans and erected a temple to the goddess nearby.

Buy Perfume

Visitors are also drawn to the two famous perfume factories, Galimard and Fragonard. With a long presence in the region, these two establishments vie for visitors, each offering free tours of their perfume factories, explanations of perfume-making and only a tiny bit of sales pressure to buy their products. If you run out of time, don't sweat it. Fragonard has a store in Nice.

Eze-sur-Mer Beach

There is a small but beautiful beach below the village (way below) in Eze-sur-Mer

Eze-sur-Mer beach

and you can walk down to it using the Sentier Friedrich-Nietzche.

Eze village as seen from the Nietzsche path

Eze from the Sentier Nietzsche

The famous German philosopher wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra while hiking up to the village from the sea. As he was living in Nice, it was quite a walk!

The path down can be steep and slippery in parts. Wear good shoes or take the 83 bus from outside the village. Eze-sur-Mer is on the coastal train line from Nice. From the train station just follow the signs to the beach.

Sign pointing to Eze beach

 

Where to Stay

Five-star Hotels
Le Chateau de la Chevre d'Or

Four-star Hotels
Chateau Eza

Eza Vista
Les Terrasses d'Eze

Three-star Hotels
Eze Hermitage

Where to Eat

La Chevre d'Or is one of the most celebrated restaurants in the region and offers highly refined dining. Chateau Eza is also well-known for its cuisine and the splendid views from its terrace. There are many more casual restaurants within and just outside the medieval village.

History of Eze

The settlement of Eze dates back to the Celto-Ligurians who found safety from their high perch over the sea. Remnants of their stay are found in nearby Mont Bastide.

The Romans occupied the site, followed by the Lombards in 578. Until the 9th century the village was known as "Avizio", then became known a "Esa".

In the middle of the 12th century the village was settled by aristocratic families from Nice and the first fortified wall and entrance was constructed. In 1388 Eze became part of the Duchy of Savoy around the same time as Nice.

Eze's subsequent history was tied to that of Nice. In 1543 a Franco-Turkish alliance seized the village despite the strongly fortified walls. Later on in 1706, Louis XIV destroyed the fortified citadel, remnants of which top the Jardin Exotique.

Along with Nice, Eze voted to become part of France in 1860.

Getting to Eze

By Car
The best way to get to Eze is to take the Moyenne Corniche. There's a parking area below the medieval Chateau that fills up fast.

By Bus
Zou runs line 602 from Nice's Gare Routiere at Vauban.The frequency is every 45 to 60 minutes Monday to Saturday and fewer on Sunday. Get the schedule here. Lignes d'Azur runs bus 82 from the Gare Routiere to Eze Village at least hourly from Monday to Saturday with a few buses on Sunday. It takes about 30 minutes.

By Train
Eze is on the main coastal line that runs from Nice to Monaco but the Eze train station is on the coast. It's a long, steep hike uphill to Eze village via the Nietzsche path. Experienced hikers can make the 427m climb in a few hours. All others should grab bus 83 which takes you from the train station up to the village. Check the bus 83 schedules carefully though as the line is infrequent.

Tourist Information

The Eze village tourist office is at the entrance to the medieval town.

Last Updated September 29, 2023

 

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