Exploring the enchanting medieval Èze Village

Elijah Durojaiye 02/06/2024
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Èze Village

Image: Èze Village

Most references to Èze are about the village. However, Èze is a commune that houses two key parts: the village and Èze sur Mer. Èze Sur Mer is the coastal section of the commune, which has its own appeal (more on that later), while the village is the most popular attraction.

Street in Èze Village

Image: Street in Èze Village

The Charm of Èze Village

Stepping into the Èze is like jumping into a time machine. It is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets with medieval houses and villas built in close proximity to each other. You're likely to have a Dr. Who moment as you walk through the pathways and observe the different buildings. One thing you'll quickly notice when wandering around the village is that most buildings have been converted to gift shops and art galleries displaying a variety of goods and artifacts aimed at illustrating the storied past of the village and charming visitors.

But beyond the allure of walking through an endearing medieval village, Èze's claim to fame is the panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea it offers. It has the added advantage of being 427 meters above sea level. That makes it the ideal place to marvel at views of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and other nearby towns including Beaulieu sur Mur and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Its elevation has also earned it the befitting "eagle's nest" nickname.

Jardin Exotique d'Èze

Image: Statue and view from Jardin Exotique d'Èze

Things to do and See in Èze Village

Jardin Exotique d'Èze

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat from Jardin Exotique d'Èze

Image: View of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat from Jardin Exotique d'Èze

Commissioned by then mayor of Èze, Rene Gianton, the garden was architected by Jean Gastaud, who is also responsible for Jardin Exotique de Monaco. Beyond the views that make the garden the highlight of a visit to Èze Village, it has various plants and xerophytes from all continents. The variety of cacti and other xerophytes is so vast that you're not likely to think of cacti the same way ever again. Some of these plants grow out of walls in an apparent boast of how resilient they can be.

As you walk through the garden, you're met with information points offering insights into the village's heritage. Ensure you make it to Point de Vue observation deck, where you'll be exposed to the best views.

Nietzsche Path

The Nietzsche Path, also known as Le Chemin de Nietzsche, is a hiking trail named after German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche. It connects Èze sur Mer and Èze village and offers breathtaking panoramic views.

View from Nietzsche path

Image: Mediterranean View from Nietzsche path

There's no sugar-coating it. If you're going to visit Èze, you need to be at least moderately fit. Even if you get a ride all the way to the village, the narrow pathways don't offer a driving option, so you're going to be hiking around the village. With that out of the way, if you're feeling up for a challenge or you have a desire to make your personal trainer proud, consider hiking up the path.

Just so you know what you're in for, the Nietzsche path is a 4.2-kilometer trail up a 1000 ft elevation from bottom to top. The panoramic views make the hike worth every minute, but facetiousness aside, the views walking down are no different from walking up, so you're better off walking down. Save your strength for additional tours of the surrounding towns.

Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption

Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption

Image: Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Church Credit: ArtMediaFactory

If you've seen drone/helicopter shots of Èze Village, you may have noticed the mustard-yellow church with a tower on its side. This is Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, an 18th-century neo-classical church dedicated to "Our Lady of the Assumption." The church was built on the site of the ruins of a 12th-century church. It is a key landmark in Èze, so as you map out the places you intend to walk by, you should include the church.

Galimard factory and Fragonard Perfume Boutiques

If you appreciate fine fragrances, you'll want to stop by the Galimard Fragrance Factory for a tour. Founded by Jean de Galimard in 1747, it is one of the first French houses of Perfumes. Galimard, which is still a family-owned company, offers complimentary guided tours of the factory and museum seven days a week.

Fragonard Frangrance

Image: Fragonard Frangrance Display Credit: Andrei Antipov

The fragrance lover in you is in for an additional treat. Fragonard is another family-owned perfumer in the village with two boutiques. The first is on Avenue du Jardin Exotique, and the other is on Place de la Colette. You should probably have a fixed fragrance budget before your visit to avoid getting carried away.

Chateau Eza

Chateau Eza Door

Image: Chateau Eza. Credit: Berm_teerawat

For an exclusive dining experience, you can opt for one of the two small balconies with four seats each or the 16-seat private dining room with a private terrace. It's perfect for hosting friends or business partners.

If you're in no mood for a meal, you can stop by the lounge for cocktails, tea, and snacks. Once you're feeling refreshed, you can continue your hike.

Chateau de La Chevre d'OR

Chateau de La Chevre d'OR

Image: Chateau de La Chevre d'OR Gate. Credit: TMP - An Instant of Time

If you're not planning for more than a day trip to Èze, you can still enjoy a meal at the 2 Michelin Starred La Chèvre d'Or or Le Café du Jardin, where the main draw is the wood oven pizzas and other grilled food and salads. Le Café du Jardin's exterior seating area overlooks a cliff and offers the illusion of sitting in a garden suspended in the sky.

Other key attractions in Chateau de La Chevre d'Or include an infinity pool and gardens with strategically placed large decorative animal statues. Perhaps you should rethink that day trip.

Èze- sur Mer

As stated earlier, the main attraction in Èze is the medieval village, but you shouldn't ignore Èze Sur Mer (Èze by the Sea). This beachfront part of Èze offers a pebble beach where you can relax after your hike and simply gaze at the bay or have a picnic with friends. There are a few restaurants and bars along the beach where you can enjoy fresh fish, an assortment of seafood, and other local cuisine.

Èze Sur Mer

Image: Èze Sur Mer from Nietzsche path

Arriving in Style

The best way to get around the French Riviera is to drive in a convertible car to fully appreciate the essence of Mediterranean living. Nothing beats cruising along the coastline as the cool breeze reassures you that you chose one of the best places on earth for your vacation. Visiting Èze using this mode of transportation is particularly rewarding. One of the best drives in the region is on Av. De la Liberte along Basse Corniche.

Raquel Romans in Ferrari Portofino

Image: Raquel Romans drivng in Mont Boron, Nice. Credit FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

If you enjoy lengthy tunnel runs, drive on to Av Raymond Poincare, where the Cap-Estel tunnel awaits you. It's only a few minutes away.

The Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel offers a set of vintage convertibles you can rent for the day, so if you're planning to stay in Nice and you're still undecided about where to stay, maybe that nugget of information will help.

However, finding a place to park may be a bit of a challenge once you arrive in Èze. If you don't want to deal with that, you should take a chauffeured ride or the train from Nice instead. It won't be the same experience, but you'll still enjoy breathtaking views.

Where to Stay

Top Luxury Hotels

Book your stay in one of Eze's top luxury hotels

Hôtel Cap Estel

Hôtel Cap Estel

Chateau Eza

Chateau Eza

Chateau de La Chevre d'Or

Chateau de La Chevre d'Or