When I begin this article telling you about The French Riviera, what immediately comes to your mind? Do you think about the 2nd biggest gathering of stars at the Cannes Film Festival, the glitz and glamor of Monaco, or the tourism hotspot of Nice? Well, you probably won’t think about a sparsely populated hilltop village called Eze.
One of the best jewels of the south of France, I must say, Eze is an ancient medieval village that remains inhabited by a select few of locals and artists who’ve called the tiny location home.
Perched 1,400 feet above sea level, Eze offers the most breathtaking and picturesque views you can ever imagine of the Mediterranean Sea. On a sunny day, the view from the peak of the hill can give you a sight of the Mediterranean, of Italy, Nice, and even St. Tropez.
The focal point of the village is the ruins of the 12th-century castle perched on top of the hill. All the stone buildings and shops revolve around the ruins, where winding narrow streets all lead to this medieval castle.
Eze is only 17km from Nice, and can only be explored by foot. You’d have to ride a bus from the capital of The French Riviera, get off on the main road, and find the entry to the village. If you have a car, you’d need to park your vehicle at the foot of the hill since all the streets of the village are for pedestrians only.
Once you enter the village, you will immediately be greeted with beautiful cafes and shops based in well-preserved stone buildings that seem to step out of a magazine – everything is just utterly charming and beautiful. There are also several hotels in the village, so if you wish to stay for a night or two, you can happily do so and wake up to the most beautiful and peaceful view of the Mediterranean.
Eze’s claim to fame is being the place where Freidrich Nietzsche conceptualized the philosophies of his book, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” in the 1880’s. In fact, a Nietzsche walking tour is offered to tourists and can be availed from the tourism office. It is said that Nietzsche walked up and down the hill of Eze to formulate his philosophical concepts.
The most notable tourist spot of the village is undoubtedly the Exotic Garden, otherwise known as Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze. It is perched 400 meters above sea level and offers extraordinary views of the Mediterranean Sea. Exploring the garden is not for free and requires a fee in Euros. But most people, including myself, think it’s well worth the price for the art, the views, and the peacefulness the garden has to offer.
Sculptures by Jean-Philippe Richard called Earth Goddesses are found all around the garden, offering a special touch to an otherwise exotic garden of cacti sourced from all over the world. There are twisting paths, benches, and a few teakwood beds that offer the perfect place for meditation and contemplation. The garden is located on the grounds of the 12th-century castle ruins, and offer the best views, by far, in the village.
On your way down, you can visit the Notre Dame de l’Assomption, a church built in 1764, now classified as a historical monument. A perfume laboratory and gift shop is another interesting place to visit at Eze, which is located near the foot of the hill, making it an excellent way to end your Eze visit.
When the constraints of Monaco and the hustle and bustle of Nice is not your cup of tea, then Eze will surely satisfy in terms of your best French Riviera vacation.
Darrel Bella is a travel enthusiast with a love for culture, history, and nature. He is the Managing Partner at The Luxury Signature, a luxury villa rental company featuring Southeast Asia’s most exclusive villa collection.